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Career Outlook

Does the idea of working with individuals with behavior issues and playing a role in correcting them sound appealing and rewarding? If so, you want enjoy a career as an Applied Behavior Analyst (ABA) or, better yet, a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. Learn how you can join this field as well as what you can expect for a career outlook.

What is an ABA or BCBA?

An ABA therapist uses principles and techniques to treat individuals with behavior issues and disorders. It’s also a method of treatment used to treat individuals with autism. The principle behind applied behavior is that by analyzing a patient’s needs, the ABA therapist can help the patient to apply appropriate behavior in place of inappropriate behavior. The duties of a BCBA is to oversee the duties of an ABA therapist. Once an individual becomes an ABA therapist, the next goal is to become board certified.

Career Outlook for ABAs and BCBAs

PayScale reports that ABA therapists in the United States earn annual wages ranging range from $24,000 to $50,000 with the average annual wage at $34,467. Board certified behavior analysts earn much higher wages, While PayScale reports their average annual wag at $58,549, the Association of Professional Behavior Analysts reports that the majority of BCBA earn from $75,000 to $145,000 or more in 2014.

Factors that tend to affect earning potential include experience, geographic location. For instance, they state that BCBA that work with autism patients tend to earn higher salaries. Cities like Los Angeles, Chicago, Seattle, San Diego and Dallas are cities where BCBA earn highest wages. ABAs and BCBAs have excellent employment opportunities and job growth. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that occupational therapists, of which these are categorized, can expect employment growth of 27 percent from 2014-2024.

How to Become an ABA?

To work as an ABA, you must complete at least a bachelor degree in psychology, special education or a similar field with applied behavior analysis-based courses. While you may find entry-level positions in ABA with an associate degree, most ABA therapists have at least a bachelor’s degree or even a master’s degree.

How to Become a BCBA?

BCBA typically have BCBA degrees at the master or doctoral degree levels. The BCBA degrees generally focus on behavior analysis, psychology, human services or a field approved by the Behavior Analysts Certification Board. These type of BCBA programs can be found at many colleges and universities. Some of the schools also offer BCBA programs online. However, the student must complete 225 hours of classroom work, 1,500 hours of supervised fieldwork in behavior analysis and 1,750 hours of practicum work, so only a portion of the program can be done online.

Certification for ABAs

To become a BCBA, the ABA must obtain certification through the Behavior Analysts Certification Board, which involves passing the certification exam. While students may not find 100 percent BCBA programs online, they will find online BCBA certification programs. In fact, to obtain BCBA certification online, students can visit the website for the Behavior Analysts Certification Board website for instructions.