What Does a Behaviour Analyst Do? With Skills and Salary

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 27 April 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Behavioural analysts are healthcare professionals who improve a patient's quality of life by helping them establish healthy behavioural coping mechanisms and meet key development milestones. Candidates with intensive critical thinking skills and an interest in psychology and development may find a career as a behavioural analyst fulfilling. Understanding what a behaviour analyst does can help you decide whether this career is suitable for you. In this article, we answer the question 'What does a behaviour analyst do?' and discuss where they work, their average salary and a list of useful skills.

What does a behaviour analyst do?

Understanding the answer to 'What does a behaviour analyst do?' requires an analysis of their contribution to the support and healthcare of patients. Behaviour analysts are professionals who analyse the behavioural patterns of patients of all ages to help manage developmental or behavioural disorders. These professionals use their extensive educational experience, such as bachelor's and master's degrees and doctoral training to analyse their patients' symptoms and routines. This allows them to establish the likeliest cause of challenging behaviour, like outbursts or a lack of concentration. Here are typical behaviour analyst responsibilities:

Considering patient history

Taking a patient's history is an important feature of a behavioural analyst's role. This helps to inform them of any previous hospital admittance because of their patient's behaviour. The patient's history can also help inform them of whether any trauma or experience has had a significant impact on their behaviour, which can help them come to a stronger conclusion regarding their diagnosis.

Developing behavioural plans

Developing behavioural plans refers to constructing a comprehensive plan to help the patient manage any destructive behaviours that have a significant impact on their daily routines. These plans can comprise clinically proven mitigation tactics tailored to specific disorders. Analysts use their experience and scientific research to understand how their patients may respond to these plans. During treatment, behavioural analysts may conduct regular reviews into the success of the plan and alter any elements that are ineffective in mitigating behaviour.

Writing reports

Professionals may spend a lot of time constructing reports on their patient's progress and general behaviour, as this can help inform other medical professionals on how to treat them. This also helps behavioural analysts keep track of their treatment plan effectiveness. This is also an important task if the patient experiences any new symptoms that may indicate a separate condition.

Conducting research

Analysts may conduct research into specific diagnoses to help them identify symptoms in their current patients. This can also help them understand which treatments are most effective for specific behavioural disorders. Research is also important for behavioural analysts who publish research articles on behavioural disorders and their causes.

Organising activities

Behaviour analysts may construct specific activities designed to help them identify the patient response that shows a specific disorder. For example, they may prepare an activity that requires a patient to exercise intense concentration, which then helps the analyst see if they can concentrate for long periods. Doing this helps them understand how disorders affect the patient's life and how they can mitigate this.

Related: The 16 Most Popular Bachelor of Psychology Careers

Where do behaviour analysts work?

A behaviour analyst's workplace depends on the type of services they offer. For example, if they specialise in children's behavioural analysis, they may work within schools or children's hospitals. Here are some examples of behaviour analyst workplaces:

Mental health facilities

These professionals may also work in mental health facilities, such as psychiatric hospitals or in-patient centres, to help patients cope with their behavioural patterns. Analysts identify the patient's dominant behavioural pattern and discuss their history and symptoms to determine the trigger for their behaviour. Like general hospitals, analysts may work with specialist mental health teams to ensure the patient is safe during treatment. In these settings, analysts may confront challenging behaviours, but they use their skills to diffuse tension and build a rapport with patients.

Schools

Analysts may work within schools, supporting students with developmental and behavioural disorders to help them gain an education while coping with their symptoms. They also help teachers establish methods for managing behavioural patterns during lessons, like how to diffuse tension and support a child during an outburst. In schools, analysts may observe key behaviours, like how the student behaves in class, their concentration and how they interact with other pupils, as this can help them determine the right diagnosis and triggers.

Home

These professionals may also support families within the home to help them establish healthy routines that support the patient. Behavioural analysts may do this in partnership with authorities like support workers and social services. They can observe the relationships between family members and the patient to determine whether the family dynamic contributes to instances of poor behaviour. They can then help families work through any frustration they have due to the patient's behaviour and establish healthier coping mechanisms to support both the patient and their friends and family.

Related: How to Become a Behavioural Therapist (Step-by-Step Guide)

Behaviour analyst average salary

The national average salary of a board-certified behaviour analyst is $89,020 per year. This figure can depend on the facility in which a behaviour analyst works. For example, a behaviour analyst working in a children's hospital might earn a different amount to a behaviour analyst working in a school or social services facility. These professionals can also specialise in specific fields, such as forensic behavioural analysis or developmental applied behavioural analysis. Employers may offer higher pay or more senior roles due to their increased expertise.

Skills of a behaviour analyst

Behaviour analysts use a comprehensive set of skills to identify behavioural traits that show behavioural conditions. With these skills, they can learn how to cooperate with patients who exhibit challenging behaviour patterns. Candidates usually learn these skills through education and observing senior behaviour analysts who may mentor or supervise them in junior roles. Here's a guide to the hard and soft skills of a behaviour analyst:

Hard skills

Hard skills are industry-specific skills that are typically listed as a minimum expectation on job advertisements. This means hiring managers expect candidates to have an in-depth understanding of these skills, with evidence of previous use. Here are some examples of hard skills:

  • Ethics: Behaviour analysts use their knowledge of ethics to ensure they only work with their patient's best interests in mind. This means ensuring that any treatment they suggest aims to improve the patient's quality of life.

  • Reporting skills: These professionals compile reports listing the patient's symptoms, causes and recommended treatments. These reports help other professionals, like psychologists and medical staff, administer the appropriate treatments and maintain records.

  • Level-headedness: Behaviour analysts may confront instances of challenging behaviour during their sessions. Level-headedness allows analysts to stay focused and establish good relationships with their patients.

  • Referral procedures: Analysts require comprehensive knowledge of the referral procedures to ensure they know when to refer a patient. They do this based on the patient's current behavioural patterns and understanding whether they require a specialist.

  • Patience: It may take a long time for patients to feel comfortable during sessions. This means analysts practise patience when waiting for them to display or talk about their behaviours.

  • Behavioural science: These professionals require comprehensive knowledge of behavioural science, including triggers of certain behaviours and understanding the neuroscience behind behavioural patterns.

  • Safeguarding: If a behavioural analyst treats a vulnerable patient, such as a child, they may use knowledge of safeguarding practises to ensure that the child has a safe home life and they can contact the relevant authorities if they believe they require specialist support.

Related: How to Become a Psychologist

Soft skills

Soft skills refer to general employability skills that candidates develop through experience. While hiring managers may list some of these skills as mandatory, candidates can develop these with further practice and become more confident when interacting with patients and their families or friends. Here are some examples of soft skills:

  • Written and verbal communication: As analysts write reports on their patients, they require comprehensive written communication skills to write clearly and accurately. Verbal communication skills help analysts communicate clearly with their patients and make them comfortable during sessions with honesty and active listening.

  • Collaboration: These professionals work collaboratively with other professionals, such as psychologists, medical staff, teachers and social services. Strong collaboration skills help analysts convey important information about their patients and formulate effective treatment plans with these professionals.

  • Interpersonal skills: Strong interpersonal skills allow analysts to establish trust with their patients. This is because interpersonal skills make analysts friendly and approachable, making patients more likely to talk about their behaviour and symptoms.

  • Problem-solving: Behaviour analysts use problem-solving skills to generate healthy routines and treatment plans for their patients. They do this by taking their symptoms into account and finding the cause of the problem.

  • Critical thinking: Analysts engage their critical thinking skills when they help uncover the trigger or cause of a patient's behavioural problems. This enables them to look for deeper meanings in their behavioural patterns and make accurate diagnoses.


Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.


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