Behavioral science is an interdisciplinary field that combines knowledge and methods from psychology, sociology, anthropology, and economics to understand human behavior. Behavioral science jobs are focused on understanding how people think, feel, and act and how these behaviors are influenced by social, cultural, and economic factors.
Behavioral scientists use research methods such as experiments, surveys, and observations to collect data and analyze it to understand how people behave in different situations. They use this knowledge to improve decision-making, design products, and services, and develop policies that promote well-being and social change.
In this article, we will explore the different types of behavioral science jobs, the skills and qualifications required for these jobs, and the various career opportunities available in the field.
Behavioral Scientist Jobs Duties and Responsibilities
The duties and responsibilities of behavioral science jobs can vary depending on the specific role but may include the following:
- Conducting research to understand human behavior: This may involve designing experiments, surveys, or observational studies to collect data on behavior, attitudes, and emotions.
- Analyzing data: Behavioral scientists use statistical methods and software to analyze data and identify patterns and relationships that can help explain behavior.
- Developing theories of behavior: Behavioral scientists use research findings to develop theories that explain how and why people behave the way they do.
- Applying research findings to solve problems: Behavioral scientists use research findings to improve decision-making, design products, and services, and develop policies that promote well-being and social change.
- Communicating research findings: Behavioral scientists present their research findings to a variety of audiences, including other scientists, practitioners, policymakers, and the public.
- Collaborating with other researchers: Behavioral scientists often work in teams and collaborate with other researchers from different disciplines to conduct research.
- Advising organizations and governments: Behavioral scientists may provide advice to organizations and governments on how to design policies and programs that take into account the behavior of the people they serve.
- Participating in grant proposals: Behavioral scientists may be involved in preparing and submitting grant proposals to secure funding for their research projects.
- Supervising and mentoring students: Behavioral scientists may supervise and mentor undergraduate and graduate students who are conducting research in the field.
- Staying current: Staying current with the latest developments in behavioral science through ongoing education and professional development.
Behavioral Scientist Jobs Job Requirements
The job requirements for a Behavioral Scientist may vary depending on the specific location, but some common requirements include the following:
- Education: A career in behavioral science typically requires a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in psychology, sociology, anthropology, or a related field. However, many positions, especially those in academia or research, require a graduate degree such as a Master’s degree or a Ph.D.
- Training: Some behavioral science jobs may require additional training in specialized areas such as statistics, research methods, or a specific subfield of behavioral science.
- Experience: Experience conducting research or working in a relevant field, such as social work, marketing, or human resources, can be helpful in obtaining a job in behavioral science. Additionally, experience using statistical software and programming languages is also a plus.
- Certifications and licenses: Certification or licensure is not typically required for behavioral science jobs but may be required for some positions that involve direct patient care, such as a licensed clinical psychologist.
Additionally, some professional organizations, such as the American Psychological Association, offer certifications for certain areas of specialty within the field of behavioral science. This can demonstrate expertise to employers and can open up more opportunities.
Behavioral Scientist Jobs Skills
Behavioral science jobs require a variety of skills, including:
- Analytical skills: Behavioral scientists must be able to analyze and interpret large and complex sets of data, and use statistical methods to identify patterns and relationships.
- Research skills: Behavioral scientists must have knowledge of research methods and be able to design experiments, surveys, and observational studies to collect data.
- Strong communication skills: Behavioral scientists must be able to effectively communicate their findings and results to other scientists, practitioners, policymakers, and the public, both verbally and in writing.
- Problem-solving skills: Behavioral scientists use research findings to solve problems and improve decision-making, design products and services, and develop policies that promote well-being and social change.
- Teamwork skills: Behavioral scientists often work in teams and must be able to collaborate effectively with other researchers from different disciplines.
- Learning ability: Behavioral science is an interdisciplinary field that is constantly evolving, so it’s important for behavioral scientists to continuously learn and adapt as new theories, technologies, and methodologies are developed.
- Observational skills: Behavioral scientists use observational research methods to study human behavior, so it’s important to have good observational skills.
- Ethical standards: Behavioral scientists must adhere to ethical standards when conducting research and working with human participants.
- Computer skills: Behavioral scientists use computers and software to analyze data, so it’s important to have strong computer skills and experience with relevant software.
- Project management skills: Behavioral scientists often work on multiple projects at the same time, so it’s important to be able to manage time effectively and prioritize tasks.
Behavioral Scientist Jobs Salary
The salary for behavioral science jobs can vary depending on the specific job, level of education, and years of experience. Some factors that can affect salary include the industry and location of the job.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for psychologists is $81,040. However, the salary can vary depending on the specific field of psychology, with clinical, counseling, and school psychologists earning a median salary of $78,200. In contrast, industrial-organizational psychologists earn a median salary of $92,320.
The median annual salary for sociologists is $82,050 as of May 2020. However, the salary can vary depending on the specific field of sociology, with sociologists working in research and development services earning a median salary of $92,840. In contrast, sociologists working in state government earn a median salary of $70,040.
Anthropologists’ and archeologists’ median annual salary is $63,670.
Economists’ median annual salary is $105,020.
Behavioral science jobs in the private sector, such as in marketing research, advertising, or consulting, can have higher salaries than those in the public sector or academia. Additionally, behavioral scientists working in more expensive cities or regions may have higher salaries to account for the cost of living.
Overall, salary can vary widely depending on the specific job and industry, and it’s important to research the salary range for a specific job before applying.
Behavioral Scientist Jobs Work Environment
Behavioral science jobs can be found in a variety of work environments, including:
- Universities and colleges: Behavioral scientists in academia typically teach courses and conduct research in their areas of expertise.
- Research institutions: Behavioral scientists conduct research to understand human behavior and may also be involved in developing new technologies and products.
- Government agencies: Behavioral scientists in government agencies conduct research to inform policy decisions and may also be involved in designing and implementing government programs.
- Non-profit organizations: Behavioral scientists in non-profit organizations conduct research to understand and address social issues, and may also be involved in designing and implementing programs to promote well-being and social change.
- Private sector: Behavioral scientists in the private sector may work in marketing research, advertising, consulting, or other fields to help companies understand and influence consumer behavior.
- Hospitals and healthcare centers: Behavioral scientists may work in hospitals and healthcare centers to provide care for patients with mental health issues and to conduct research on mental health.
- Clinics and private practice: Behavioral scientists may also work as clinical psychologists, counseling psychologists, or other mental health professionals in clinics and private practice.
The work environment for behavioral science jobs can vary depending on the specific job and industry and can range from a traditional office setting to a laboratory or research setting. Behavioral scientists may also spend time in the field, conducting research or observing behavior in natural settings.
Behavioral Scientist Jobs Trends
Behavioral science is a rapidly evolving field, and several current trends are shaping the field:
- Big data and machine learning: Behavioral scientists increasingly use large sets of data and machine learning techniques to analyze and understand human behavior. This allows for new insights and discoveries that were previously not possible.
- Behavioral economics: The field of behavioral economics combines insights from economics and psychology and is becoming increasingly popular and influential in policy-making and decision-making.
- Behavioral design: Behavioral scientists are increasingly used in designing products, services, and environments to positively influence behavior.
- Evidence-based policymaking: Behavioral scientists are increasingly being used to inform policymaking by providing evidence-based research on how people behave and how policies affect behavior.
- Positive psychology: The field of positive psychology focuses on understanding and promoting well-being and is becoming increasingly popular and relevant in today’s world.
- Mental health and neurodiversity: Behavioral science is increasingly being used to understand, support and provide care for individuals with mental health issues and neurodiversity.
- Virtual and online behavior: With the increasing use of technology, behavioral scientists are studying the behavior of people in virtual and online environments to understand how technology affects behavior.
- Interdisciplinary collaboration: Behavioral science is increasingly being used in collaboration with other fields, such as neuroscience, computer science, and engineering, to provide a more comprehensive understanding of behavior.
- Cultural and diversity perspectives: Behavioral science is also increasingly taking into account cultural and diversity perspectives to understand behavior across different groups and cultures.
How to Become a Behavioral Scientist
To become a behavioral scientist, you typically need to follow these steps:
- Earn a bachelor’s degree in psychology, sociology, anthropology, or a related field. A bachelor’s degree is the minimum requirement for most entry-level positions in the field.
- Consider earning a graduate degree in a specific area of behavioral science, such as cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, or social psychology. Many jobs in research or academia require a graduate degree.
- Gain experience through internships or volunteer work. Many universities and research institutions offer internships or volunteer opportunities for students to gain experience in the field.
- Develop your research skills by conducting research projects or participating in research studies. Research skills are essential for many jobs in behavioral science.
- Build your professional network by attending conferences, joining professional organizations, and staying up-to-date with the latest research and trends in the field.
- Consider obtaining a certification or license if your role requires it. For example, if you want to become a licensed clinical psychologist, you will need to complete a doctoral degree and pass a licensure exam.
- Look for job opportunities in universities, research institutions, government agencies, non-profit organizations, the private sector, hospitals, and healthcare centers, clinics and private practice, or other relevant organizations.
- Be prepared to continuously learn and adapt as new theories, technologies, and methodologies are developed in the field.
It’s also worth noting that some positions may require certain qualifications such as background checks, drug testing, or certifications in addition to the standard education and experience requirements.
Behavioral Scientist Jobs Advancement Prospects
Advancement prospects for behavioral science jobs can vary depending on the specific job and industry. Some possible career advancement opportunities include:
- Progressing to a higher level of education: Some behavioral scientists may choose to continue their education and earn a graduate or doctoral degree in order to qualify for more advanced positions.
- Moving into management or leadership roles: Behavioral scientists with experience and expertise may be promoted to management or leadership roles in research institutions, government agencies, or private sector companies.
- Transitioning to a different field: Behavioral scientists may use their skills and knowledge to transition to related fields such as marketing research, human resources, or consulting.
- Moving into a private practice: Behavioral scientists may use their skills and knowledge to open their own private practice.
- Starting their own company: Behavioral scientists may use their skills and knowledge to start their own company, such as a market research firm, a consulting firm, or a software development firm.
- Advancing in research positions: Behavioral scientists in research positions may advance to more senior research positions or to leadership roles within their organizations.
- Advancing in teaching positions: Behavioral scientists in teaching positions may advance to more senior teaching positions or to leadership roles within their institutions.
- Becoming an expert in a specific field or area: Behavioral scientists may become recognized experts in a specific field or area of research through their research, publications, and professional activities.
Overall, career advancement in behavioral science jobs often requires a combination of education, experience, and networking, as well as a strong track record of research and publications.
Behavioral Scientist Job Description Example
Here is an example of a job description for a behavioral scientist:
Job Title: Behavioral Scientist
The Behavioral Scientist will join the research team at XYZ Research Institute, where they will conduct research to understand human behavior and develop theories to explain that behavior. The Behavioral Scientist will be responsible for the design, execution, and analysis of experiments, surveys, and observational studies to collect data on behavior, attitudes, and emotions.
- Design and conduct experiments, surveys, and observational studies to collect data on behavior, attitudes, and emotions.
- Use statistical methods and software to analyze data and identify patterns and relationships that can help explain behavior.
- Develop theories of behavior that explain how and why people behave the way they do.
- Apply research findings to improve decision-making, design products, and services, and develop policies that promote well-being and social change.
- Communicate research findings to other scientists, practitioners, policymakers, and the public through presentations, publications and reports.
- Collaborate with other researchers from different disciplines to conduct research.
- Participate in grant proposals to secure funding for research projects.
- Supervise and mentor undergraduate and graduate students who are conducting research in the field.
- Stay current with the latest developments in the field by reading relevant literature and attending conferences.
- A bachelor’s degree in psychology, sociology, anthropology, or a related field is required. A graduate degree is preferred.
- Strong analytical skills and experience with statistical methods and software.
- Strong research skills, including experience designing experiments, surveys, and observational studies.
- Strong communication skills, both verbal and written
- Experience in data analysis, interpretation, and report writing
- Strong problem-solving and critical-thinking abilities
- Strong interpersonal and teamwork skills
- Strong computer skills, including proficiency with relevant software and tools.
- Strong ethical standards
- Familiarity with research ethics and compliance is an asset.