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What are the Most Common Job Settings for a Behavior Analyst?

What are the Most Common Job Settings for a Behavior Analyst?

The best type of job is the one with flexibility and choice. 

A career in applied behavior analysis allows individuals to:

Many people primarily associate applied behavior analysis with a school or clinical setting, although there are many different job settings to discover for graduates with an applied behavior analysis master’s degree.  You might be asking questions like, “What is a behavior analyst and where do behavior analysts work?”


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According to the Behavior Analyst Certification board (BACB), behavior analysis professionals often work in:

But that isn’t all. Applied behavior analysis specialists can also work in:

Anywhere a behavior specialist is needed, applied behavior analysts can use their expertise to help out. Applied behavior analysts can work their magic wherever human behavior need to be modified including:

Although the answer to the question, “Where do BCBAs work?” can be broad, this article will focus primarily on the most common job settings that applied behavior analysis specialists can work in.

What is Applied Behavior Analysis?

Applied behavior analysis is a systematic and scientific method of:

Commonly, this practice is used with individuals with autism spectrum disorder, traumatic brain injuries, and/or developmental delays.  Although applied behavior analysis strategies can be taught and used with a variety of populations. 

What does a behavior analyst do?  Behavior analysts help their clients develop healthy behaviors to:

Applied behavior analysis has been proven an effective way of dealing with a lack of:

Applied behavior analysis strategies also help clients with reducing aggression, self-harming habits, and other inappropriate socially significant behavior.

When a behavior health analyst is called upon to work with a client, they first must evaluate, assess, and observe the client in their natural environments.  These environments may include:

From there, data is collected, and a Behavior Intervention Plan is made. Teachers, parents, and others involved are taught interventions to help the client be successful and increase more appropriate behaviors and learn necessary skills. The behavior analyst can teach their clients new skills through the use of specific ABA interventions.  They also use consequences and reinforcement to assist the process. And it is a process—behavior analysts are highly trained on how to assess, monitor, and modify behaviors of all types. 

Overall, applied behavior analysis is a much-needed field to go into!  You’ll need an applied behavior analysis degree and certification through the BACB.  So where can BCBAs work?

Mental Health Clinics

Behavior analysts who have the Behavior Analyst (BCBA) certification can choose to work in a clinical mental health setting. In a clinic, behavior analysts work with clients of all ages to help them overcome a variety of problems including:

Clinical behavior analysts identify undesirable conditions that sustain and contribute to undesired behavior so they can formulate helpful management techniques and interventions.

What does a behavioral analyst do to help youth?  Behavior analysts working with children and adolescents conduct intake assessments with parents so they can develop appropriate behavioral plans that are based on standard practices. A behavior analyst can work collaboratively with families, teachers, and other service providers to assist families in implementing behavioral plans and strategies at home and in the school.  

What do behavior analysts do with adults?  Behavior analysts working with adults focus more on behavioral challenges that impede career and personal goals. Adults with developmental disabilities or behavior disorders work with a behavior analyst to improve:

Improving these skills can help an adult function more successfully at home and in society. 

Applied behavior analysts often belong to teams of licensed mental health care providers; however, they can also choose to open their own practice or business. 

Working in a mental health clinic can be a great choice for applied behavior analysts. It gives them the flexibility to work with different types of clients with a variety of needs. By going the mental health route, a Board Certified Behavior Analyst BCBA can start their own consulting business, which is what many behavior analysts strive for. 

Mental Health Centers

In contrast to a mental health clinic, where clients of all types can be seen in an outpatient setting, mental health centers typically focus on one type of disease or disorder. Examples of this are;

Many behavior analysts work for centers or programs that target specific conditions. What can you do as a behavior analyst working in a mental health center?  While behavior analysts are based out of a center, they are trained to implement one-on-one intervention programs with children in their:

A Board Certified Behavior Analyst can target maladaptive behaviors so they can increase the proper development of social and academic skills. This may take the form of training their patients about:

A behavior analyst is also in charge of collecting and analyzing patient data during their day to increase their understanding of certain conditions and behaviors.

At times, a behavior analyst must push into clients’ schools and act as background support through providing coaching and management strategies for teachers and parents.

This job setting is similar to one at a mental health clinic, except that a mental health center focuses on more specific types of disorders and does not broadly work with just anyone. Many mental health centers offer residential or full-day programs for their clients. Working in a center can be advantageous to behavior analysts who have expertise in a particular type of disorder or disease and want to focus on those. 

Public Schools

Many applied behavior analysts work in public schools as ABA specialists. They work with students who struggle with behavior and emotional/social challenges. The work is done in a self-contained setting like an autism classroom or a resource classroom. Children who struggle in these areas typically are not in a general education class setting and thrive more in a small class size. 

An applied behavior analyst might implement educational services designed for target client groups, such as those with behavioral disorders and learning or developmental disabilities. They meet with a few student clients every day for one to two hours. During this time, behavior analysts coach and teach children proper skills including:

At times, an applied behavior analyst is needed in one classroom throughout an entire day, or multiple days, to observe a particular student and to help take data and develop an FBA/BIP. 

Behavior analysts in public schools are in charge of recording student data and documenting how each student is progressing and responding to their specific program. They share their conclusions, recommendations, and narrative reports with:


An applied behavior analyst also can choose to work in client’s homes and follow them out in the community to work on targeted skills. 

An example of this is a parent who has requested behavior analysis services for their three-year-old child with autism due to behavioral and communication concerns. The behavior analyst meets the parent and child at home to do an observation in the child’s natural environment where most of the inappropriate behaviors are happening. The analyst will also sit down to:

This type of analyst/client interaction can happen out in the community as well. The applied behavior analyst may follow the parent and child around to take care of tasks and daily errands while making observations and taking data in the background. 

Once the FBA is complete, a Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP) can be created. The parent and child will be explicitly taught interventions and new skills to replace the inappropriate behaviors. More observations will be held and more data will be taken to determine if the interventions are working over time. 

This type of work is called Natural Environment Teaching (NET). 

There are definite benefits to working with a client at home and out in the community, which are their natural environments: 

Natural Environment Teaching helps learners acquire skills quickly and also helps them to easily generalize what they have learned to other settings. 

Applied behavior analysts, depending on where they work, have a choice in whether or not to travel to clients’ homes. This is a personal preference and should be considered before taking a job. 

Conclusion to What are the Most Common Job Settings for a Behavior Analyst?

Applied behavior analysts with a master’s degree have amazing job opportunities. They are lucky in the sense that they have more choice in the types of clients they see and the settings in which they deliver their expertise. Applied behavior analysis specialists who have their own business and are contracted out have even more flexibility and choice.  They can see however many clients at a time and decide which settings are most conducive to their schedule and career goals. Applied Behavior Analysts work in a variety of settings including:

If these don’t fit into your career goals, there are many more opportunities out there including areas like behavioral gerontology and organizational behavior management.  

Brittany Cerny

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

Behavior and Learning Disorders | Georgia State University

Updated August 2021


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