What Is a Behavior Interventionist? Job Description, Salary, Training and Skills

Updated July 27, 2023

A woman and a child facing each other.

Behavior interventionists help troubled individuals make positive differences in their lives. This a rewarding career choice for people with a range of backgrounds and experience. If you want to make a difference in people's lives while working in a field with a growing number of opportunities, then this career path could be for you. In this article, we explore what a behavior interventionist does, how to become one, what skills are needed, the salary and job outlook and the rewards of choosing a career as a behavior interventionist.

What is a behavior interventionist?

A behavior interventionist works with targeted individuals to eliminate disruptive and negative behaviors and replace them with positive behaviors and actions. While they are often employed in educational settings and work with children and young people, behavior interventionists can also be found working in a variety of other settings, with a wide range of populations. Other populations may include adults with learning disabilities, prisoners or adults with substance abuse problems.

Depending on the setting where they work, their seniority and the preferred terminology of the organization, a behavior interventionist may also be known as a behavioral interventionist, a behavior therapist, a behavior analyst, a behavior interventions specialist or a behavioral disorder counselor.

What does a behavior interventionist do?

A behavior interventionist typically works with specific individuals who have been identified as exhibiting problematic behaviors. These behaviors could be disruptive to the other individuals in the setting, or they could be harmful to the individual's own progress. Behavior interventionists develop targeted strategies to reduce problematic behaviors and encourage productive behaviors through means such as positive reinforcement.

Common job duties include:

  • Working closely with the individual and with other professionals, such as teachers, to assess the client's behaviors and create a specially designed plan

  • Implementing the plan

  • Providing ongoing assessments of progress

  • Creating general strategies for behavior assessment

  • Conflict resolution

  • Crisis intervention

  • Assisting other professionals who work with the client in their daily environment

Salary and job outlook for a behavior interventionist

The average base salary for interventionists in the United States is $19.68 per hour. The salary for a behavior interventionist varies with the setting, personal level of experience and educational attainment.

Behavior interventionists are increasingly in demand. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that employment for behavioral disorder counselors is projected to grow by as much as 25% over the next decade. While growth will almost certainly vary across different geographical and specialization areas, this type of employment is predicted to grow much faster than the average across occupations, as large numbers of people are expected to seek counseling for mental health and addiction issues.

A child behavior interventionist often works with children who have autism spectrum disorders. According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the prevalence of these developmental disorders in the U.S. has been rising steadily over the last few decades across all racial, ethnic and socioeconomic groups. Employment for child behavior interventionists specializing in working with children with autism spectrum disorders can be expected to rise in line with the increase in diagnoses.

Related: How Much Does a Behavior Specialist Make?

How to become a behavior interventionist

Follow the steps below to pursue a career as a behavior interventionist:

1. Complete your education

It's possible to become a behavior interventionist with a high school diploma, but many employers ask for qualifications such as a bachelor's degree in psychology, child development or a related field.

2. Consider your preferred specialization

For example, consider whether you want to work with children or adults. Be sure to check the exact qualification requirements for your state and chosen specialization, as these can vary.

3. Obtain your license, if required

You may need to become officially licensed or certified before you can start practicing as a behavior interventionist with certain populations. For example, to work as a child behavior interventionist with children with autism spectrum disorders, you may need a qualification in Applied Behavior Analysis. This certification is administered by the Behavior Analysis Certification Board (BCBA).

Related: What Is a BCBA?

4. Gain experience

Experience in fields such as social work, education or counseling can help you in your career as a behavior interventionist. In many cases, with the right background knowledge and experience, you may be able to move into an entry-level job and complete training as a behavior interventionist while you work.

What skills does a behavior interventionist need?

Skills in high demand for behavior interventionist positions include the following:

Hard skills

  • Behavior analysis

  • Data collection

  • Creation and implementation of treatment plans

  • CPR

  • Crisis intervention

Soft skills

  • Adaptability

  • Enthusiasm

  • Communication skills

  • People skills

  • Self-motivation

  • Resilience

Related: Soft Skills in the Workplace

In an educational setting

  • Student learning

  • Special educational needs

  • Child counseling

In an adult mental health setting

  • Group therapy

  • Working with adults with intellectual disabilities

  • Mental health treatment

  • Substance abuse treatment

Related: What Is a Mental Health Professional? Career Definition and Types

The work environment for behavior interventionists

Behavior interventionists often work for government or non-profit organizations. They can work in any setting where there may be individuals with behavior issues that are having a negative impact on themselves and others, and where the organization has an interest in the welfare of the individuals concerned. Some of the settings where behavior interventionists work include educational establishments, healthcare providers, prisons and rehabilitation centers. Many behavior interventionists work for independent agencies and work directly in their clients' homes, traveling between clients several times each day. Work schedules are often variable according to the client's needs.

Related: Everything You Need To Know About Working for a Nonprofit

What are the benefits of a career as a behavior interventionist?

  • Helping troubled individuals: Behavior interventionists can make meaningful differences in the lives of their clients and those around them, whether those clients are children with autism spectrum disorders, adults with addiction problems or any of the many other possibilities for a career in behavior intervention. It can be immensely fulfilling to help clients' behaviors improve and see them making real progress in life.

  • Good job security: This field is expected to remain a growth area, as more people seek help for addiction or mental health issues, and diagnoses of autism spectrum disorders continue to rise. There are increasing opportunities for careers as a behavior interventionist, and long-term employment and salary prospects look good.

  • Getting started quickly: As this is an in-demand field, it's possible to become a behavior interventionist quickly and learn on the job, making this an excellent option for someone who wants to enter the workforce without delay. It's also a good option for someone looking for a mid-career change without a lengthy period of re-training.

  • Career progress: After starting a career as a behavior interventionist, further qualifications (such as certification in Applied Behavior Analysis) are available, so it's possible to make significant career progress while continuing to learn on the job.


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