Behavioral Therapist Jobs & Career Guide

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What Is a Behavioral Therapist?

A behavioral therapist is a licensed mental health professional. Behavioral therapy is a form of psychotherapy that seeks to eliminate symptoms and modify ineffective or undesirable behavior patterns. Behavioral therapists help others overcome mental and life challenges.

As a behavioral therapist you are likely to be helping people facing the following:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Autism
  • PTSD
  • Eating disorders
  • Substance abuse disorders

The Work of a Behavioral Therapist

There are many tasks a behavioral therapist will complete each day. Regardless of where you’ll work, you’ll have clinical studies. First, you’ll perform intake evaluations, determining a patient’s diagnosis. Sessions include talking about feelings, behaviors, and their lives.

The behavioral therapist’s job is to analyze thought patterns. They also track progress and determine when the course of therapy will end.

Other tasks include maintaining patient records throughout the day. After assessments, creating treatment plans is another common responsibility. From there, behavioral therapists may recommend specific exercises and homework for the patient.

Lastly, educating parents can be another duty, especially for younger kids. Training at home helps improve a child’s behavior. There are many daily tasks behavioral therapist jobs entail. However, an incredible behavioral therapist should possess specific skills.

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Key skills of a behavioral therapist

  • Excellent listening skills
  • Empathy, understanding feelings
  • Maintaining proper boundaries
  • Critical thinking skills
  • Great problem-solving
  • Interpersonal skills

Having analytical skills is essential to access patients properly. While planning interventions, a behavioral therapist must know if plans are working.

Behavioral therapists’ jobs are critical team members and ensure if treatment needs adjusting. Paying attention to others determines the patient’s outcome.

Overall, the therapist must have excellent attention to detail. Patience is vital, as the patient needs attention while feeling understood. No matter where therapists work, having patience throughout the day is mandatory.

Where Do Behavioral Therapists Work?

Behavioral therapists work in many settings and can hold different titles. For example, professionals in the field can be counselors or clinical managers. They can also become teachers or special education coordinators. Overall, the majority of behavioral therapists work in private practices and offices.

Work environments may also include the following:

  • Hospitals
  • Schools
  • Social service organizations
  • Correctional facilities
  • Drug rehabilitation centers
  • Long-term care facilities

Behavioral therapists may work in school settings with students who have difficulties behaving. Therapists design and create intervention programs for kids. The goal is for kids to become successful at the end of treatment. Other behavioral psychologists may work in research. Research duties include conducting experiments and studies.

While offices and hospitals are typical workplaces, some behavioral therapists’ jobs travel. Technology offers new and convenient ways to work. Now, behavioral therapists can utilize video chatting.

As a result, not only do therapists gain new patients, but they can work from anywhere. Technology is also helpful when tracking progress and accessing treatment.

Overall, most behavioral therapists work full-time hours. However, some work settings include evenings and weekends.

Behavioral Therapists Degree and Training

The first step to becoming a behavioral therapist is earning a bachelor’s degree. All related degrees such as social work, counseling, or psychology will help you succeed.

Then, you’ll go on to pursue further education. Most behavioral therapist jobs require a master’s degree. Some therapists also go on to get their doctorate.

Throughout your education, you’ll gain valuable on-the-job training. Therapists need supervised experience and post-graduate hours.

You’ll then take one of the following examinations:

After completing the standard amount of hours, you can apply for licensure. Requirements differ by state – see our guide to Licensing by State for more details.

Last, you can receive various certifications. Depending on your state, certificates may come before or after licensure. Certifications include specific branches in the field.

For instance, you can become certified in cognitive behavioral therapy. You can also become applied behavior analysis certified. All stepping stones can determine your earning potential.

Behavioral Therapists Earning Potential

The earning potential for behavioral therapist jobs varies on education and experience. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary is $48,520. Many behavioral therapist jobs make between $30,870 and $77,980 annually. Typically, government agencies pay higher. However, they make less if you work at a private practice.

You can expect $27,000 to over $45,700 yearly if you’re a new therapist. However, if you have five to nine years of experience working in the field, you can expect up to 49,000 dollars. If you work for a smaller company with less than ten people, you’ll earn about $31,000 to $35,159.

Also, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, salaries will increase as the demand for behavioral therapist jobs grows. As a result, the career outlook is excellent as mental health jobs increase by 23 percent through 2030. While income ranges, there are also advantages when it comes to receiving bonuses.

Other benefits include 401(k) plans, paid vacations, holiday earnings, and sick leave. Many companies also offer payment for training and certification. Reimbursement for education and tuition is also a possibility. Other perks include life and disability insurance and having a flexible schedule.

Overall, earning potential depends on your state, company size, and experience. Aside from annual income, there are other essential benefits. Plans, vacations, additional earnings, and reimbursements contribute to saving money.

Behavioral Therapist Career Path

The behavioral therapist career path takes several years. Overall, it takes between six to eight years to become a therapist. A bachelor’s degree takes approximately four years.

However, getting a graduate degree takes longer. While some master’s degrees take a year, many take at least two years to complete. Plus, you’ll have internships throughout the process.

Additionally, you can opt for online classes to further your education. Online courses are available whether you’re an undergraduate or pursuing your master’s. In addition, courses online provide flexibility depending on your current lifestyle and schedule.

Many choose to advance to doctoral programs. Earning your doctorate may take an additional four years. Although, completing your doctorate can take longer, especially if you’re a part-time student. You’ll take advanced courses, including psychopathology, research methods, supervision, and practicum. People who undergo doctoral degrees may work as supervisors in clinical settings.

Overall, there are many options regarding your career path. Perhaps your goal is to become a substance abuse counselor. For others, getting your degree means becoming a mental health therapist. You’ll explore different paths tailored to your goals with specific certifications and education.


Becoming a behavioral therapist is an excellent decision if you want to help others. However, you’ll also need patience and compassion while accessing, supporting, and diagnosing patients. In addition, keeping up with clinical tasks will keep you busy throughout your day.

The good news is that behavioral therapists can work in multiple settings. So, you’ll have plenty of work environment options.

You’ll determine what treatment is best for your patient. Accessing and diagnosing mental health disorders is a critical job. While getting your degree is the first step, you can also further your education. So, your behavioral therapist jobs and career guide are complete. Now, you’re on your way to a rewarding career.

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Position Company Location Posted
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapist Social Anxiety Help (National Social Anxiety Center, DC) Wasington, Dist. Columbia 01/25/2023
Part-time psychotherapist position available at small, well-established cognitive-behavioral therapy clinic in NW DC specializing in the treatment of social anxiety disorder and related problems (eg. other anxiety disorders, mood disorders, relationship and career problems, sexual orientation and gender identity concerns). Must be licensed in DC to practice psychotherapy or professional counseling. Potential for growth to full time, if desired. Will work in person at our northwest DC office, ... More
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