How Do I Become a Behavioral Scientist?

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

Behavioral scientists have abilities and experience that can lead to a wide range of careers across many different industries. In order to become a behavioral scientist, getting an education, gaining practical experience, and choosing a career path are all important steps. A person who wants to become a behavioral scientist may also want to look at the different types of careers available in this broad field, in order to tailor educational and training paths for a specific job.

Man with hands on his hips
Man with hands on his hips

Education is the first major step needed to become a behavioral scientist. Whereas some universities and online degree programs offer specific degrees in behavioral science, many students choose to get an undergraduate degree in a more general, but related subject. Psychology, sociology, and anthropology degrees can all lead to an eventual career in behavioral science. Since this type of career deals primarily with human psychology, it may be important to choose classes in a general major that focus on human development and behavior.

Although some careers in behavioral science require only an undergraduate degree, many scientists choose to further hone their skills by pursuing postgraduate education. A master's degree program may require a further two to four years of study, but can lead to better career opportunities and more advanced training. Another way to become a behavioral scientist is to obtain a doctorate in psychology, called a PhD or PsyD, as well as passing licensing examinations in order to become a practicing psychologist with an emphasis on behavioral science. Becoming a full-fledged doctor of psychology can take an additional five to seven years after college, but may open the way to lucrative and rewarding careers.

During school and after graduation, it is important for a student who wants to become a behavioral scientist to take opportunities that provide practical experience. This may include interning with practicing scientists, volunteering to assist with human behavior research and analysis, and finding entry-level jobs that provide additional training in the field. Students who are able to balance internships or volunteer work with studies may be better prepared to find a good job quickly after graduation.

The final step to becoming a behavioral scientist is choosing a career path. Qualified behavioral scientists may be desirable in many different areas, from consumer research in the business world, to assisting with crime solving and social work. Those who obtain doctorates and become licensed may choose to open a private practice, working one-on-one with clients in need of assistance. Scientists with an undergraduate education can also find jobs as health aides or research associates.

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica is passionate about drama and film. She has many other interests, and enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics in her role as a wiseGEEK writer.

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