An applied behavior analyst is a therapist who studies topics like autism spectrum disorder, behavioral analysis, and ethics, and there are many jobs a graduate can get with an Applied Behavior Analyst (ABA) degree. Some positions may require certification with the Behavior Analyst Certification Board and other jobs may require a graduate degree. Environments, where an Applied Behavior Analyst may work, include outpatient care centers, family services departments, the offices of various health practitioners, schools, and hospitals. Applied Behavior Analysts may need to earn licensure for some types of employment, as well as take specific classes in applied behavior analysis.
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Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA)
Students who earn a graduate degree may qualify to gain certification from the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) and become employed as Board Certified Behavior Analysts. Applicants for certification must possess a master’s degree or a doctoral degree from an accredited institution in one of three areas that include psychology, behavior analysis, or education. Students must complete an approved course sequence in college and pass the BCBA Examination. Once certified, BCBAs can work at schools, healthcare organizations, and other therapeutic environments.
A caseworker in applied behavior analysis may work under the supervision of a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and may oversee and design the treatment programs used to treat clients with diagnoses like autism. Caseworkers may work alongside school psychologists, resource specialists, and various health care and medical professionals. Also known as a case manager, these professionals may consult with parents during treatment, as well as confer with other mental health experts to design treatment plans for patients using the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA).
Counselor or Therapist
A therapist or counselor who has earned a degree in Applied Behavior Analysis may engage in therapeutic programs that work to decrease problem behaviors, increase communication skills, and improve proficiency in the areas of memory, social environments, and attention. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors may reach median pay of $43,300 per year when they earn a bachelor’s degree. Some states and employers may have some additional educational and continuing professional education requirements. A prospective counselor or therapist may want to research the professional requirements in their state before choosing an educational path.
Certified Autism Specialist (CAS)
Individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder may receive treatment from a Certified Autism Specialist (CAS), who is a professional who has gained certification through a professional organization verified by the Association for Behavior Analysis International. The process for gaining certification requires submission of an official application, completion of training, and a passing grade on the certification exam. CASs may work in public schools, private therapy organizations, and clinical research organizations. Working as an applied behavior analyst with a specialization can result in higher wages.
Individuals who work as Applied Behavior Analysts (ABA) must possess compassion, excellent interpersonal skills, patience, and listening skills. A behavior analyst may possess these qualities innately, as well as build upon them in an undergraduate or graduate program in psychology or a related area. The highest wages in this area of study come from students who complete a graduate program and earn board certification, but there are also many jobs available in the area of applied behavior analysis for students who earn a bachelor’s degree or complete a certificate program.
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