About Careers in Behavioral Science

Career choices include mental health and substance abuse counselors.
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Students who major in behavioral science have the educational background to successfully pursue a career in the field of human services. Coursework includes theories and principles of sociology, psychology and counseling. In addition, some programs also include such classes as multicultural perspectives in human services or social deviance and psychopathological perspectives. The broadness of this degree results in a variety of careers, salaries and job outlooks.

Career Options

Behavioral science career options include employment as a social worker, who can work for mental health clinics, hospitals, schools and private agencies. Some psychologists are self-employed, while others work in hospitals, clinics and treatment centers. In addition, psychologists find employment in school settings ranging from public and private schools to universities, and also in government agencies and private research firms. Sociologists tend to work for research organizations, colleges and universities or state and local governments. Mental health counselors, substance abuse counselors and behavioral disorder counselors are employed in individual and family services, mental health and substance abuse centers, hospitals and state and local governments. Market research analysts work in finance and insurance, information, wholesale trade, and professional, scientific and technical industries.

Educational Requirements

After completing a bachelor’s degree in behavioral science, graduates can work as a market research analyst. They can also find employment as a substance abuse or behavioral disorder counselor; however, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recommends researching requirements for individual states since some may require a master’s degree. The educational requirement to be a social worker is also a bachelor’s degree, but a master’s degree is frequently required to work in schools and in health care. Mental health counselors need a master’s degree in counseling. The educational requirement to be a psychologist is a master’s degree or a doctoral degree in counseling, while sociologists need a master’s or a Ph.D. in sociology.


At the higher end of behavioral science careers, sociologists earned an annual mean wage of $80,820, according to BLS salary data from May 2012. Psychologists earned $73,740, while market research analysts made $67,380. At the other end of the salary scale, social workers made $47,370 and mental health counselors earned $43,290. The annual mean wage for substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors was $40,920 in May 2012.

Job Outlook

Demand for most jobs in the U.S. will increase by 14.3 percent through 2020, according to the BLS. However, some behavioral science jobs will increase at a faster rate. Market research analyst positions will increase by 41 percent, while mental health counselor jobs will grow by 36 percent. Demand for substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors will increase by 27 percent. The BLS projects a 25 percent growth rate in social worker jobs. In addition, demand for psychologists and sociologists will increase by 22 percent and 18 percent, respectively.

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