How to Become a Behavioral Scientist
Behavioral Scientists are individuals who are trained to research people and the way they act. They use this information in order to explain human behavior and to help other professionals in a variety of ways. Researching human behavior can be done by observing certain situations or by having subjects fill out a survey.
An example of a behavioral study was done in Peru regarding people's hand washing habits. This community's children were more prone to getting sick than in other parts of the world. A study needed to be launched in order to determine why people were less likely to wash their hands in this community. That way scientists and governments could work together in order to help improve hygiene and the public's health by educating the community about the importance of hand washing.
Behavioral Scientists collected information in order to understand the community's perceptions regarding the values, socialization and the meanings people had about using soap to wash their hands. The information gathered was vital in learning why the community wasn't using soap to wash their hands and to create a campaign in order to educate people about the importance of hand washing with soap. Behavioral Scientists played a vital role in this study in order to help protect a community's health and facilitate positive change.
People who want to become a Behavioral Scientist must have a skill set that includes having strong interpersonal skills, ability to do analytical work, understand ethics codes and understand and adapt to changes.
Education Requirements to Become a Behavioral Scientist
To become a Behavioral Scientist, a candidate must have a minimum of a Bachelor's Degree in Behavioral Psychology, Behavioral Science or a related focus. Acquiring a Master's in Human Psychology, Psychiatry or Sociology in order to become a Behavioral Scientist will strengthen a candidate's background and provide more job opportunities.
In order to be prepared to work as a Behavioral Scientist, a candidate needs to focus on a degree that teaches the theories of human or group behavior. Students also need to learn about topics that focus on individual or group decision making processes, individual or group communication, organizational behavior and social communication to name a few.
Some common courses that a potential Behavioral Scientist takes includes:
- Drugs and behavior
- Social Psychology
Taking a variety of courses regarding people and theories surrounding behaviors can strengthen a candidate's educational background and knowledge of human behavior.
Behavioral Scientist Job Description
Behavioral Scientists can work with private businesses, governments, in psychology and private research firms. They are good at not only observing people, but determining why people act the way they do. They do it in a scientific way without judgment and objectively.
Behavioral Scientists need to be objective and refrain from using their preconceived notions about people in order to provide scientific work about them. Candidates must be prepared to research and analyze human behavior under different situations.
The main job functions for Behavioral Scientists include the following:
- Research: Researching is the first step a Behavioral Scientist takes in order to explain human behavior. This can be done in a variety of ways including creating written surveys for people to take or by physically observing them in their personal environment or one purposely created by a researcher. Other research can be performed by watching video recordings of people.
- Analyze: Behavioral Scientists use the data they research to begin to understand their subjects' behavior. In this step, they interpret the information they gathered and look for particular patterns. This step is important because it can help scientists predict future outcomes or explain certain behavior, such as why the community in Peru wasn't washing their hands.
Some additional responsibilities a Behavioral Scientist may have depend on the industry they work in. For example, a scientist working for the FBI may focus on criminals and create psychological profiles for these individuals. Other Scientists can opt to work in the private sector and provide information for market research.
Behavioral Scientist Salary and Career Path
Behavioral Scientists have several opportunities available for them in different sectors and specialties. Professionals can work in Psychology, the Health Worker, Social Worker or Anthropologist. Sectors they can work in include corporate, Medical or government. Salary depends on the specialty Behavioral Scientists work in, however the national median wage for Behavior Scientists is approximately $86,500 per year. The salary range can be from $33,000 to $115,000 depending on the sector, specialty and level of education a candidate has.
*Salary Information provided by the Bureau Of Labor Statistics