5 Careers for Professionals With a Graduate Certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis

Applied Behavior Analysis Graduate Certificate: Possible Careers

Applied Behavior Analysis Graduate Certificate: Possible CareersObtaining a graduate certificate in applied behavior analysis (ABA) does not limit people to one single career choice. There are various options available that utilize the expertise, knowledge, and strengths of someone who is certified. 

Students who have earned a graduate certificate in applied behavior analysis qualify for many exciting careers. The field of applied behavior analysis is perfect for students who would like to help people with various behavior and learning issues, which means the location of the job does not only have to be a school setting. Businesses and organizations can also employ applied behavior analysts to help them predict consumer behavior and create effective marketing campaigns. 

Here is a sample of the career possibilities for ABA grads who have earned graduate certificates:

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  1. Consumer Behavior Analysts
  2. Board Certified Behavior Analysts
  3. School Counselors
  4. Substance Abuse Counselors
  5. Special Education Teachers

Continue reading to learn about job descriptions, job outlooks, and how to use expertise and skills related to ABA within these five career possibilities. 

1. Consumer Behavior Analysts

Consumer Behavior AnalystOne great career for professionals with a graduate certificate in applied behavior analysis is known as a consumer behavior analyst. Also known as market research analysts, consumer behavior analysts work for consulting firms or large businesses to determine the needs of consumers, their purchasing habits, and current trends in purchasing. They typically accomplish this through research that often involves conducting surveys of the general public or smaller target audiences. They then examine data gathered and discuss results with top management.

There is a huge need for consumer behavior analysts. 

Have you ever wondered how social media knows you in and out? How things are recommended to you that have you written all over it? Aside from algorithms, consumer behavior analysts play a role in making sure you have the opportunity to view products online that you are more likely to buy based on various factors. There is a lot of research that goes into being a successful consumer behavior analyst—and these individuals also need to know quite a bit about human behavior. 

Many employers expect the analyst to prepare reports about past customer habits and forecast future habits and develop this information into an improved sales campaign. Usually, analysts use this information to target customers by various demographics, including age, gender, and location. Other demographics may be the consumer’s buying habits, social status, or income bracket, (WiseGeek). 

Becoming a consumer behavior analyst is a relevant occupation that will more than likely never go out of business.

2. Board Certified Behavior Analysts

Board Certified Behavior AnalystsOne of the most popular careers for professionals with a graduate certificate in applied behavior analysis is that of a board-certified behavior analyst (BCBA). These professionals can be found working in such places as research facilities, government agencies, hospitals, or mental health centers. They may work with individuals by creating treatment plans to help them with their behavioral issues, or they may work to improve the issues of an entire targeted population. 

On average, a BCBA can earn around $60,000 annually, although this number will vary from city and state, as well as vary depending on the location of service. A large residential hospital might pay more for services than a small school system. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the field of behavior therapy is predicted to grow significantly faster than average. From 2018 to 2028, the BLS predicts 22% job growth for this occupation. The need for a BCBA is in high demand, especially as mental health and behavioral strategies become more widely known and accepted. 

The main goal of a BCBA is to provide support to individuals and their families by coordinating and providing services in Applied Behavior Analysis, function analyses and assessment, behavior acquisition and reduction procedures, and adaptive life skills.

There are different levels of board-certified behavior analysis depending upon the level of education a person reaches.

  • RBT: High School degree
  • BCaBA: Bachelor’s degree
  • BCBA: Master’s degree
  • BCBA-D: Doctoral degree

A huge benefit of becoming a BCBA is that they can work in almost any environment: a client’s home, school, out in the community, in a hospital setting, or a clinical setting. A BCBA can work for a company or can be self-employed or contracted out. 

The pay, flexibility, and option for more job independence are characteristics of the career that bring people in. 

3. School Counselors

Another career choice that is ideal for students with applied behavior analysis graduate certificates is to obtain a position as a school counselor. School counselors are needed by private and public schools of all levels. Their main responsibilities are to ensure that children succeed in school and to improve their educational advancement. Other tasks they may be responsible for include counseling children experiencing emotional problems, helping older children choose the best classes to meet their educational goals, and helping high school students locate college scholarships.

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The general job description of a school counselor will change a bit depending on if the counselor works at an elementary, middle, or high school level. Each age group of children has its own unique set of needs. Elementary school students need more help with learning about social skills, stranger danger, online safety, or making friends. Middle and high school students need to learn about the effects of bullying, study skills, college prep, and how to navigate intimate relationships safely. 

A basic job description for a school counselor:

  • Listen to students’ concerns about academic, emotional, or social problems
  • Help students process their problems and plan goals and action
  • Mediate conflict between students and teachers
  • Improve parent/teacher relationships
  • Assist with college applications, jobs, and scholarships
  • Facilitate drug and alcohol prevention programs
  • Organize peer counseling programs
  • Refer students to psychologists and other mental health resources
  • Work on academic boards to improve learning conditions

School counselors benefit from having a certification in applied behavior analysis. They must deal with students’ behaviors most of the day, and having that specific skill-set can make the day go by much more smoothly. School counselors can work with students on setting goals, targeting behaviors to work on, and implementing behavioral strategies. 

Every school needs a school counselor and they don’t seem to be going out of style anytime soon. 

4. Substance Abuse Counselors

Substance Abuse CounselorsSubstance abuse counselors are also among some of the best career options for people with graduate certificates in applied behavior analysis. Common places of employment for substance abuse counselors include mental health centers, substance abuse centers, hospitals, and social service agencies. These professionals work with individuals and groups to help them overcome an alcohol or drug addiction. Their typical daily duties often include conducting individual and group therapy sessions, evaluating new clients, creating treatment plans, teaching coping methods to clients, and designing aftercare plans.

Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is used in drug and alcohol substance abuse programs to treat destructive addictions by applying the tenets of operant conditioning to reduce behaviors associated with drug-seeking and use. Frequently combined with cognitive therapies, ABA in addiction treatment has been shown to be an effective method of reducing dependency problems among addicts.

ABA specialists can work closely with addicts by taking ABC data to determine the best interventions for their maladaptive behaviors. By identifying the antecedent, looking closely at the behaviors, and then determining the consequences of those behaviors, applied behavior analysts can get a clear picture of how to best treat their clients with substance abuse disorders. 

There are various community agencies and addiction treatment centers that need substance abuse counselors with a background in ABA. 

5. Special Education Teachers

Becoming a special education teacher is yet another career option for professionals with a graduate certificate in applied behavior analysis. Special education teachers work with children of all ages who have various physical and emotional disabilities. After evaluating children individually, SE teachers then create what is known as an Individualized Educational Plan for each child. IEPs help special education teachers determine what type of help each child needs and what level of learning the child is capable of. Special education teachers also work closely with teachers and parents to ensure success in both the classroom and at home.

ABA techniques are extremely successful with individuals with autism. Children with autism typically receive special education services while at school. If a child has a teacher who has a background in ABA, this can be beneficial and will increase the likelihood of the child being successful while at school.

Special education teachers deal with a variety of behaviors while in the classroom. Having a certificate in ABA will ensure they have the strategies toolbox necessary to manage the students’ behaviors. 

Conclusion to Careers for Professionals With a Graduate Certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis

Applied behavior analysis is an intriguing field that qualifies graduates for a broad range of careers. There will always be behaviors that need to be modified and managed, therefore there will always be a need for applied behavior analysts. 

Brittany Cerny

Master of Education (M.Ed.) | Northeastern State University

Behavior and Learning Disorders | Georgia State University

Updated June 2021