Five Tips for Applied Behavior Analysis Students

What Are Some Tips For Applied Behavioral Analysis Students?

  • Not Just for Autism
  • Exam Preparation
  • Work Environment
  • Graduate School
  • Practical Experience

Applied behavioral analysis is a therapy that focuses on behavior modification, specifically on social skills and life skills. Some behaviors that ABA might help with are communication, grooming, how to interact with peers and how to practice self-regulation and self-care. Training in ABA can be useful in a wide variety of contexts.

Related resource: 10 Best Online ABA Degree Programs (Bachelor’s)

1. Not Just For Autism

ABA is widely used to assist children with autism. It can help them better integrate into the classroom with their peers and teaches them other life skills. Many or even most ABA students will go on to work with people who have autism. However, ABA students should not assume this is the only path for them. They may end up working with children or adults who have other developmental disabilities. ABA can have applications with other populations as well. For example, older people dealing with age-related mental or physical challenges may benefit from ABA. ABA students may want to start thinking about what populations they would like to work with after graduation.

2. Exam Preparation

People who want to become a certified applied behavioral analyst will need to take an exam. There are a number of ways to prep for this exam, and that prep begins while still in the classroom. Taking good notes and holding onto them will make reviewing for the exam less difficult. The Behavior Analyst Certification Board provides information on the structure of the exam. Students may also want to form study groups to help them prepare.

3. Work Environment

In addition to thinking about the populations they want to work with, students may also want to consider what kind of work environment they would prefer. This can also help guide them toward a specialty in applied behavioral analysis. Behavioral analysts may work in schools, clinics or in clients’ homes. Although it is an unusual career choice, requires years of law enforcement and FBI experience, and involves further on-the-job training in behavioral analysis, behavioral analysts even work for the FBI as profilers. For those who decide to work outside the field of psychology, an article in the journal Behavioral Analysis identifies an enormous range of fields where the degree would be useful ranging from human resources to working with animals and more.

4. Graduate Study

Students working on an undergraduate degree might want to think about whether they wish to continue in the field academically and pursue a master’s degree or even a doctorate. It is not necessary to make a final decision about this while still in school, and students can go back to school and pursue a graduate degree after several years of working. In some cases, some work experience in the field may enhance the student’s graduate school experience. However, even if the student plans to wait a year or two, cultivating relationships with faculty members who can provide advice and recommendations may be helpful.

5. Practical Experience

Working with autistic children and others who have developmental issues can be challenging. Students who are pursuing a degree in applied behavioral analysis may want to look into internships or even regular jobs that will put them in contact with this population if they do not already have a background involving this.

All of these considerations will help students focus on a particular area while working on their degree. With the number of opportunities available in applied behavioral analysis, this focus may leave them better poised to seek the type of job they want than less prepared students.