Behavioral Health Specialist

Counseling and behavioral health therapy are two of the fastest growing medical fields in the 21st Century. This is a challenging job because many people require help to change their behavior patterns. Particularly schools are dealing with students’ psychosocial needs. Effective change is possible if someone’s behavior puts them in danger or others.

These are the challenges that behavioral health specialists face every day. They assess, evaluate, and offer treatments to improve individuals’ health and well-being.

It can be very rewarding to help people overcome life’s obstacles. This guide will help you decide if you would like to make this a career. Here are the details on what a behavioral health specialist does, how much they earn and the education requirements. You can browse the article or click the links to jump directly to the section that interests you.

A quick overview: Behavioral health specialists

Technician in behavioral health Behavioral therapist Counselors for mental health
Education Associate degree; Bachelor’s preferred; sometimes licensing required Bachelor’s Master’s
Median salary $31,140 (BLS)
$30,895 (
$24,610 (
$32,363 (
$39,980 (BLS)
$36,336 (
$32,000 (
$70,266 (SalaryExpert)
$32,000 (SimplyHired)
$43,190 (BLS)
$39,505 (
$45,000 (
$53,550 (SalaryGenius)
$40,850 (U.S. News and World Report).
Outlook for Job Growth +5% (BLS) +22% (BLS) +19% (BLS)

Job description for a Behavioral health specialist

Specialists in behavioral healthcare provide guidance and support to those who are struggling with addiction, mental illness, or physical limitations. This profession includes psychiatrists, psychologists, mental health counselors and behavioral therapists.

Many people who are trained as behavioral health specialists work closely with other specialists to make recommendations for behavioral and emotional care. To determine the best options, they may consult with other healthcare providers.

Behavior specialists in schools ensure that programs are consistent with student goals and guidelines, especially for students with special needs. They might be asked to provide classroom management training in order to deal with students who are emotionally or behaviorally disturbed.

People used to self-diagnose and then call the best practitioner for their needs. An individual suffering from depression may see a family physician, a psychiatrist or a counselor. All of these providers have different training to treat various conditions.

What makes a good behavioral specialist?

Someone who is:

  • Caring and compassionate
  • Kind and patient
  • Excellent at organizing and planning
  • Flexible and creative
  • Excited about healthcare
  • Passionate but pragmatic
  • With the right credentials and degrees, you are qualified

There are many types of behavioral health specialists

Specialized components of treating people with behavioral problems are handled by behavioral health technicians, mental therapists, and behavioral counselors. Let’s look at each one in detail.

Behavioral health technicians

The Behavioral Health Technicians work closely with nurses and doctors to develop treatment plans for patients suffering from behavioral problems.
Continue reading for more information about behavioral health professionals

Behavioral therapists

Behavioral therapists offer treatment for patients suffering from behavioral disorders.

Continue reading for more information about behavior therapists

Counselors for mental health

A mental counselor offers psychological care for patients with depression, generalized anxious disorder, and other life challenges.

Continue reading for more information about mental health counselors

Professional development for behavioral health specialists

You have many options for professional development as a behavioral healthcare specialist. You can join an association such as the National Council for Behavioral Health, or a professional association such as the American Mental Health Counselors Association.

There are also certifications that will enhance your career and help you earn more in the field of behavioral health. There are many options for certification offered by the National Board for Certified Counselors.

  • National Certified Counselor (NCC), credential
  • The Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselor (CCMHC), designation
  • The Master Addictions Counselor (MAC), designation

These certifications can only be earned by passing an exam and demonstrating a certain amount of clinical experience.

Behavioral health professionals continue to pursue courses in order to stay current with the latest developments in their field. Workshops or classes on individual conditions can be very valuable. Supplemental training is available in many areas, including chronic and acute depression, substance abuse and anger management, as well as coping with disabilities. Continuing education is required by some states for behavioral health professionals to keep their licenses current. You can also go back to school and earn an additional degree to expand your career opportunities in the field of behavioral health.

Benefits of continuing education

Advanced training is required for the best jobs as a behavioral health specialist. Although each job requires a different degree and training, those with a master’s or MD or PhD will be able to qualify for the highest-paying positions.

It is important to receive advanced training and education that are rooted in behavioral sciences. It is essential to have a deep understanding about how people behave and what emotional problems they face each day.