How to Become a Behavior Therapist?

Are you thinking of becoming a Behavior Therapist or already started your career and planning the next step? Learn how to become a Behavior Therapist, what skills you need to succeed, how to advance your career and get promoted, and what levels of pay to expect at each step on your career path. Explore new Behavior Therapist job openings and options for career transitions into related roles.

Steps to Become a Behavior Therapist

A behavior therapist can work as a psychologist, clinician, consultant, or analyst to help patients cope with a wide variety of emotional and mental issues. They can work in hospitals, community health centers, nursing homes, schools, or in private practice. If this career sounds interesting to you, follow these five steps to become a behavior therapist:

Earn an undergraduate degree in a field like psychology or sociology.

To have a career as a behavior therapist, plan to earn a minimum of a bachelor's degree. These types of degrees usually take four years of full-time study to complete. Consider disciplines like psychology, social work, or sociology. Most colleges and universities offer degree programs for this field online and in-person on campus. Courses may include philosophy, psychology, math, chemistry, physics, and life science.

What type of degree should you pursue to become a Behavior Therapist?

49% of people working as a Behavior Therapist earned a Bachelor's Degree

What skills do you need to be a Behavior Therapist?

  • Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation
  • Spanish Portuguese
  • BCBA
  • Filing
  • Degree IN Psychology
  • Rendering
  • Enthusiasm
  • VERBAL Communication
Based on resume data from Glassdoor users who reported working as a Behavior Therapist in the United States.

Gain work experience as a research assistant or human services caseworker.

Consider entry-level positions to gain work experience in the psychology or social work fields. Roles such as human services caseworkers, psychiatric technicians, research assistants, and counselors may help you earn skills you can apply to higher-level degree programs and secure long-term full-time jobs as a behavior therapist. Some bachelor's degree programs may expect you to complete an internship as part of your graduation requirements. Both paid and unpaid internships also count as work experience in these fields.


Earn a master's degree or Ph.D. in your chosen discipline.

Many employers may prefer that behavior therapists have a master's degree or Ph.D. in a related discipline to pursue more advanced roles in the field. Those who choose to specialize in social work may consider the Master of Social Work (MSW) degree. Those who choose to stay in psychology may pursue the MA in mental health counseling or a master's degree in marriage and family therapy.


Earn your state or clinical licensure.

In the United States, those who choose to work in private practice must be licensed as a clinical social worker or in a specialty area of psychology. The specific requirements for these licenses vary by state, but many require a designated amount of education or clinical time and a passing score on an examination. Consider researching the requirements for your state before beginning your schooling and training to make sure the program prepares you for the correct steps to licensure.


Pursue professional certifications from organizations like the Evergreen Certification Institute.

Therapists who specialize in working with patients with specific disorders may benefit from earning separate professional certifications in those areas. Employers may not require these types of certifications to earn a job, but they can show your dedication to learning and advancing your career.

Some organizations that provide these types of certifications include:

Behavior Therapist Career Path

Behavior Therapist

8+Years of Experience
$40K - $59K /yrMost Likely Range
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Senior Behavior Therapist

2 - 4Years of Experience
$52K - $77K /yrMost Likely Range
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Lead Behavior Therapist

No Years of Experience Reports
$45K - $65K /yrMost Likely Range
Learn More

Total Pay Trajectory

Behavior Therapist Career Path

Behavior Therapist I
Behavior Therapist
Senior Behavior Therapist
Behavior Therapist Manager
Lead Behavior Therapist
Behavior Therapist V
Assistant Director of Behavior Therapy
Associate Director of Behavior Therapy
Director of Behavior Therapy
Senior Director of Behavior Therapy
Vice President of Behavioral Science Research
Chief Behavior Therapist

Related Careers in the Healthcare Industry

Interested in other Healthcare careers? Below are occupations that have high affinity with Behavior Therapist skills. Discover some of the most common Behavior Therapist career transitions, along with skills overlap.

13% skills overlap
16% transitioned to Therapist