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Become A Behavioral Specialist

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Working As A Behavioral Specialist

  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
  • Documenting/Recording Information
  • Getting Information
  • Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work
  • Deal with People

  • Unpleasant/Angry People

  • Mostly Sitting

  • Make Decisions

  • Stressful

  • $47,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Behavioral Specialist Do

Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors advise people who suffer from alcoholism, drug addiction, eating disorders, or other behavioral problems. They provide treatment and support to help the client recover from addiction or modify problem behaviors.

Duties

Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors typically do the following:

  • Evaluate clients’ mental and physical health, addiction, or problem behavior and assess their readiness for treatment
  • Help clients develop treatment goals and plans
  • Review and recommend treatment options with clients and their families
  • Help clients develop skills and behaviors necessary to recover from their addiction or modify their behavior
  • Work with clients to identify behaviors or situations that interfere with their recovery
  • Teach families about addiction or behavior disorders and help them develop strategies to cope with those problems
  • Refer clients to other resources and services, such as job placement services and support groups
  • Conduct outreach programs to help people identify the signs of addiction and other destructive behavior, as well as steps to take to avoid such behavior

Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors, also called addiction counselors, work with clients individually and in group sessions. Many incorporate the principles of 12-step programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) to guide their practice. They teach clients how to cope with stress and life’s problems in ways that help them recover. Furthermore, they help clients rebuild professional relationships and, if necessary, reestablish their career. They also help clients improve their personal relationships and find ways to discuss their addiction or other problems with family and friends.

Some addiction counselors work in facilities that employ many types of healthcare and mental health professionals. Addiction counselors may work with psychiatrists, social workers, physicians, and registered nurses to develop treatment plans and coordinate care for patients.

Some counselors work with clients who have been ordered by a judge to receive treatment for addiction. Others work with specific populations, such as teenagers, veterans, or people with disabilities. Some specialize in crisis intervention; these counselors step in when someone is endangering his or her own life or the lives of others. Other counselors specialize in noncrisis interventions, which encourage a person with addictions or other issues to get help. Noncrisis interventions often are performed at the request of friends and family.

Some substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors work in private practice, where they work alone or with a group of counselors or other professionals. These counselors manage their practice as a business. This includes working with clients and insurance companies to receive payment for their services. In addition, they market their practice to bring in new clients.

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How To Become A Behavioral Specialist

Most positions require a bachelor’s degree. However, depending on the employer, educational requirements can vary from a high school diploma and certification to a master’s degree.

Education

Most positions require a bachelor’s degree. However, depending on the employer, educational requirements can vary from a high school diploma and certification to a master’s degree. Workers with more education are able to provide more services to their clients, such as private one-on-one counseling sessions, and they require less supervision than those with less education. Those interested should research their state’s educational requirements.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors in private practice must be licensed. Licensing requirements vary by state, but all states require a master’s degree and 2,000 to 4,000 hours of supervised clinical experience. In addition, counselors must pass a state-issued exam and complete continuing education every year. Contact information for your state's regulating board can be found through the National Board for Certified Counselors.

The licensure or certification criteria for substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors outside of private practice vary from state to state. For example, not all states require a specific degree, but many require applicants to pass an exam. Contact information for your state’s licensing board can be found through the Addiction Technology Transfer Center Network.

Important Qualities

Compassion. Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors often work with people who are dealing with stressful and difficult situations, so they must be compassionate and empathize with their clients.

Interpersonal skills. Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors must be able to work with different types of people. They spend most of their time working directly with clients or other professionals and must be able to develop and nurture good relationships.

Listening skills. Good listening skills are essential for substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors. They need to give their full attention to a client to be able to understand that client’s problems and values.

Patience. Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors must be able to remain calm when working with all types of clients, including those who may be distressed or angry.

Speaking skills. Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors need to be able to effectively communicate with clients. They must express ideas and information in a way that their clients easily understand.

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Behavioral Specialist Career Paths

Behavioral Specialist
Therapist Case Manager Program Manager
Service Program Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Therapist Case Manager Nursing Director
Director Of Health Services
10 Yearsyrs
Therapist Case Manager Program Director
Director Of Program Services
8 Yearsyrs
Clinician Clinical Supervisor Program Director
Director Of Residential Services
7 Yearsyrs
Clinician Clinical Supervisor Nursing Director
Health Director
9 Yearsyrs
Social Worker Administrator Registered Nurse Case Manager
Clinical Care Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Social Worker Clinician
Clinical Program Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Consultant Program Manager Clinical Director
Outpatient Services Director
9 Yearsyrs
Consultant Office Manager House Manager
Home Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Social Worker Support Coordinator Residential Supervisor
Residential Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Foster Care Worker Case Planner Integrator
Health Unit Supervisor
5 Yearsyrs
Mental Health Counselor Registered Nurse Occupational Health Nurse
Health Services Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Outpatient Physical Therapist Clinical Social Worker Program Supervisor
Residential Program Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Outpatient Physical Therapist Clinical Supervisor Nurse Manager
Administrative Director, Behavioral Health Services
11 Yearsyrs
Team Leader Unit Manager Registered Nurse Case Manager
Health Care Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Consultant Adjunct Professor Education Consultant
Student Dean
7 Yearsyrs
Team Leader Assistant Director Center Director
Community Service Director
5 Yearsyrs
Mental Health Counselor Mental Health Clinician
Mental Health Program Manager
8 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as a Behavioral Specialist?

Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Group Counselor 2.1 years
Behavioral Analyst 1.8 years
Top Careers Before Behavioral Specialist
Internship 13.5%
Teacher 6.9%
Counselor 6.3%
Therapist 6.1%
Cashier 4.6%
Volunteer 3.9%
Supervisor 2.9%
Top Careers After Behavioral Specialist
Therapist 10.4%
Internship 6.8%
Counselor 6.4%
Clinician 6.3%
Teacher 5.5%
Supervisor 3.6%
Consultant 3.6%

Do you work as a Behavioral Specialist?

Behavioral Specialist Demographics

Gender

Female

58.9%

Male

28.7%

Unknown

12.4%
Ethnicity

White

63.6%

Hispanic or Latino

15.1%

Black or African American

11.5%

Asian

6.4%

Unknown

3.5%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

73.5%

French

6.1%

Italian

2.6%

Portuguese

2.3%

German

2.3%

Korean

1.6%

Hindi

1.4%

Russian

1.2%

Chinese

1.2%

Vietnamese

0.9%

Japanese

0.9%

Urdu

0.9%

Mandarin

0.7%

Armenian

0.7%

Greek

0.7%

Tagalog

0.7%

Arabic

0.7%

Samoan

0.5%

Gujarati

0.5%

Polish

0.5%
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Behavioral Specialist Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

14.1%

Capella University

11.8%

Walden University

7.6%

Liberty University

7.4%

University of Pittsburgh -

6.0%

Temple University

4.6%

University of Rhode Island

4.6%

Rhode Island College

4.4%

Grand Canyon University

4.4%

Marywood University

3.9%

Indiana University of Pennsylvania

3.4%

Pennsylvania State University

3.3%

Duquesne University

3.2%

National University

3.2%

California University of Pennsylvania

3.2%

Kaplan University

3.1%

University of New Mexico

3.0%

Nova Southeastern University

3.0%

University of Minnesota - Duluth

2.8%

Ashford University

2.8%
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Majors

Psychology

19.5%

Social Work

12.0%

Counseling Psychology

9.7%

Criminal Justice

6.7%

School Counseling

6.6%

Special Education

5.0%

Business

4.9%

Mental Health Counseling

4.8%

Education

4.6%

Human Services

4.2%

Clinical Psychology

3.8%

Sociology

3.8%

Elementary Education

2.3%

Educational Leadership

2.1%

Nursing

2.0%

Human Development

1.9%

Family Therapy

1.7%

Rehabilitation Science

1.6%

Behavioral Sciences

1.3%

Liberal Arts

1.3%
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Degrees

Masters

42.6%

Bachelors

31.6%

Other

12.6%

Associate

4.9%

Doctorate

3.8%

Certificate

3.6%

Diploma

0.6%

License

0.3%
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Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary
Average Yearly Salary
$47,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$29,000
Min 10%
$47,000
Median 50%
$47,000
Median 50%
$47,000
Median 50%
$47,000
Median 50%
$47,000
Median 50%
$47,000
Median 50%
$47,000
Median 50%
$75,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Rogers Memorial Hospital
Highest Paying City
San Jose, CA
Highest Paying State
Nevada
Avg Experience Level
2.5 years
How much does a Behavioral Specialist make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Behavioral Specialist in the United States is $47,719 per year or $23 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $29,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $76,000.

Real Behavioral Specialist Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Behavior Specialist Anderson Center for Autism Staatsburg, NY Sep 10, 2014 $70,000
Behavioral Specialist Hope Community Resources, Inc. Anchorage, AK Sep 28, 2012 $58,916
Behavioral Specialist Hope Community Resources, Inc. Anchorage, AK Oct 26, 2016 $55,182
Behavioral Specialist Consultant Western Pennsylvania Psych Care Beaver, PA Nov 22, 2009 $51,048
Behavior Specialist Sunnyvale School District Sunnyvale, CA Aug 17, 2009 $47,410
Behavioral Specialist Consultant Western Pennsylvania Psych Care Beaver, PA Oct 01, 2012 $46,963
Mobile Therapist and Behavioral Specialist Consultant Western Pennsylvania Psych Care Beaver, PA Jan 23, 2008 $45,500
Applied Behavioral Science Specialist YAI-National Institute for People With Disabilitie New York, NY Aug 15, 2009 $45,000
Applied Behavioral Science Specialist YAI-National Institute for People With Disabilit New York, NY Aug 15, 2009 $45,000
Behavior Specialist Kahlon Family Service, LLC San Francisco, CA Feb 14, 2014 $41,740
Behavior Specialist Consultant Teamcare Behavioral Health, LLC Lancaster, PA Oct 01, 2009 $41,740 -
$58,436
Behavior Specialist Tello & Assoicates Alhambra, CA Oct 01, 2010 $41,552
Behavior Specialist Tello & Associates Alhambra, CA Oct 01, 2010 $41,552
Therapeutic Behavioral Specialist Sunny Hills Services San Anselmo, CA Sep 05, 2011 $39,100 -
$43,000
Behavior Specialist Consultant Suzanne & Associates LLC Pittsburgh, PA Oct 01, 2015 $38,547 -
$93,915
Behavior Specialist Consultant Suzanne & Associates LLC Pittsburgh, PA Jul 18, 2014 $37,566 -
$64,697
Behavior Analysis Specialist University of Nebraska Medical Center Omaha, NE Apr 01, 2008 $35,818
Behavior Analysis Specialist University of Nebraska Medical Center Omaha, NE May 12, 2010 $35,818
Social Behavioral Specialist Amerejuve Inc. Houston, TX Oct 01, 2010 $35,464
Behavior Specialist Consultant Suzanne & Associates LLC Pittsburgh, PA Jul 18, 2011 $35,082 -
$64,697
Behavioral Parenting Specialist Kennedy Krieger Institute Baltimore, MD Jan 01, 2010 $31,500
Behavior Specialist Andy MIK Corporation Rowland Heights, CA Oct 01, 2010 $28,200
Behavior Specialist/Registered Behavior Technician Behavior Services of Brevard, Inc. Cocoa, FL Aug 03, 2016 $27,152 -
$29,218
Behavior Specialist Kahlon Family Service, LLC San Francisco, CA Feb 13, 2012 $25,169
Behavior Specialist Kahlon Family Service, LLC San Francisco, CA Feb 17, 2012 $25,169

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Top Skills for A Behavioral Specialist

  1. Crisis Intervention
  2. Behavioral Issues
  3. Treatment Plans
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Conducted outreach, advocacy, and rehabilitative services for regular cases and crisis intervention.
  • Monitored client behavioral issues and prepared regular progress reports for supervisory agencies detailing client compliance and progress.
  • Designed suitable behavioral interventions to team and implemented modified treatment plans that resolved students' behavioral difficulty.
  • Provide individual family therapy to children/adolescents/families with ASD, on caseload at a frequency specified in the Comprehensive Treatment Plan.
  • Interfaced with existing county mental health/developmental service systems, assessing and evaluating behavioral, social, and emotional support plan processes.

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Top 10 Best States for Behavioral Specialists

  1. Alaska
  2. Pennsylvania
  3. District of Columbia
  4. Wisconsin
  5. Oregon
  6. Nevada
  7. North Dakota
  8. Minnesota
  9. Washington
  10. California
  • (38 jobs)
  • (622 jobs)
  • (128 jobs)
  • (300 jobs)
  • (180 jobs)
  • (87 jobs)
  • (34 jobs)
  • (310 jobs)
  • (279 jobs)
  • (1,377 jobs)

Top Behavioral Specialist Employers

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