Those wanting to dive into the world of behavior will be interested in knowing the annual salary range that an applied behavior analyst would expect to get. Of course, it’s not all about the money—but it kind of is! People want to know what their general income will be when researching career ideas, which can drive other areas of their life such as where they live, if they buy or rent, and how they will be able to support themselves and/or their family.
This article discusses a range because there are various capacities that analysts can work with their clients and experience and location affect the salary as well. Depending on where an analyst wants to work and how independent they’d like to be in their career, will determine whether or not they should continue their education beyond a Bachelor’s degree.
Oftentimes applied behavior analysts aim high and go for a Master’s or Doctoral degree, which can open more doors for them when seeking employment. Depending on who an ABA specialist wants to work for, will determine the level of degree they seek. Many large companies and clinical practices require that an analyst at least have a Master’s degree and sometimes even prefer for them to have a Doctoral degree.
The typical salary of an applied behavior analyst professional is just above $55,000 a year, but again—there are a variety of factors that come into play to determine a starting salary.
Continue reading to understand the different types of ABA certifications, the low and high ends of an ABA annual salary, and where to go if you’re looking to make more money than average.
Types of degrees and certifications = different salary amounts
Typically, anyone with an advanced degree (think Master’s or Doctorate) in a specific field will make more money than their non-advanced counterparts (Bachelor’s or Associate’s).
In the field of behavior, there are four primary certification types. These include:
- BCaBA: Becoming a board-certified assistant behavior analyst only requires a Bachelor’s degree. BCaBAs must complete specific coursework and experience supervision hours under the supervision of a BCBA or BCBA-D.
- BCBA: This certification requires a Master’s degree in behavior analysis, psychology, or education in addition to specific coursework and supervision hours. BCBAs can practice independently, although they often supervise a team of RBTs who implement their therapy plans for clients.
- BCBA-D: This is simply considered a BCBA who holds a Doctorate degree in addition to a Master’s degree. BCBA-Ds offer the same level of services as BCBAs. They simply have a more advanced degree and potentially earn much more money than their ABA counterparts.
- RBT: Registered behavior technicians are an additional part of an ABA treatment team. RBTs are trained and certified in ABA and work directly with clients to achieve the goals outlined by the BCBA.
ABA students must determine what their career goals are, their required salary, and how long they are willing to continue their education. Identifying these things will help students decide which degree and certification they would like to aim for.
Depending on their choice, they can earn from a range of salaries.
The low end of the scale
The average salary of someone who works as an applied behavior analyst will tend to remain on the lower end if they are working for the government, which in this case includes a school-based position. Examples of government-related and/or government-funded behavioral jobs include becoming a crime analyst (nationwide average is $4k), working for a school district (nationwide average is $52k), and a position as a juvenile court liaison (ranging between $32k and $55k).
Those who are looking to make more money can look in the private sector—and there are many places to look.
The high end of the scale
The scale for pay in the industry is quite large when someone enters the private sector, and they will find many different jobs that will serve them well. Someone who has done their research may double or triple their pay for the same work, and they may have more flexibility than they did in the past. Private practice is popular, and there are many corporations that need an analyst working with their staff.
Examples of private-sector jobs and salaries are a BCBA for a company (starting at $70k in Georgia), a BCBA clinical director (starting at $90k in Georgia), and a BCBA at a private mental health clinic (starting from $65k to $80k in Georgia).
Applied behavior analysts can potentially make over $100k a year!
The options are limitless. Go online today and search for applied behavior analyst positions in your area to get a better idea of what is open and what the salary range is like.
Corporate jobs are where the money is at!
ABA specialists are not only required to work in a clinic or school setting like many think. Major businesses and corporations oftentimes hire behavior analysts to come in and help resolve situations and make the work environment more productive and positive.
A large company may hire an applied behavior analyst (or an industrial-organizational (IO) psychologist) to work with their staff, and they will use the reports offered about their staff to ensure they know where each person will succeed.
The private companies hiring analysts tend to keep them on staff as they are helpful when working with new hires.
An educated and experienced IO psychologist can sometimes start out by making $100k with a company. They are much needed, especially in the current job market.
These professionals perform the following job duties (and they definitely can utilize their BCBA in an office environment!):
- Apply psychological research to the workplace
- Work within human resources offices
- Help businesses hire more qualified employees
- Help train and motivate the workforce
- Assess job performance
- Increase business efficiency
- Improve organizational structure
- Improve the quality of life for employers and employees
- Ease transitions such as corporate mergers
- Study consumer behavior
- Work as a consultant
Those who are uninterested in working for the government, in a school system, with children, or with individuals with autism or developmental delays can work in the corporate world with average adults trying to make a living and achieve their career goals.
ABA professionals have a wide variety of career options to think over.
Consulting work is a practical option as well
There are a lot of consultants in the private sector who are searching for work with many different businesses at once. They may work for government agencies, they may do contract work with large companies, or they may push into the homes of clients to assess them in their natural environments.
There are other options as well. Consultants may work with television or movie producers when they need a behavioral expert. Analysts may also be asked to come in to help a private practice with their most difficult clients.
Consultants generally come and go as they please while creating their own schedule and they may do quite a lot of their work from home. It is a simpler life for the analyst and their schedule gives them more flexibility and freedom. Another positive is that they can make as much money as they want (within limits of course!). The best ABA consultant can triple their annual salary. It is all about commitment, time, and drive.
Keeping Two Or More Job
Applied behavior analysts may have more than one job.
This might look like working part-time for a school system then having a private consulting practice outside of those work hours. Or it might be that an analyst is contracted out to several companies and organizations at once. And don’t forget about teaching! Teaching other ABA students at the collegiate level is a viable option for experienced analysts—a great side gig to think about.
Contractors may take multiple positions in the industry when they know they may carry all the hours needed to do the work. Someone who is working with three or four companies at a time will have time for 15-20 hours for each company when they are spread out across the week.
Analysts increase their pay by doing more work, and they will reach more people when working with multiple companies or organizations in various capacities.
Conclusion to What is the Average Salary of an Applied Behavior Analyst?
Applied behavior analysts may work in a government position, which includes a school system (which is quite common), work in the private sector, or start their own practice and consult with multiple clients at once. Everyone has their own choice to make, and each choice changes their salary. The average yearly salary of applied behavior analysts will change depending on where they choose to work, what job duties they are responsible for, and who they report to.
ABA and BCBA job opportunities are endless! There is such an overwhelming need for behavior analysts in a variety of settings. Students who are beginning their education in ABA should take all of the factors into consideration and identify which area of ABA will fit best with their needs and career goals.
Master of Education (M.Ed.) | Northeastern State University
Behavior and Learning Disorders | Georgia State University
Updated August 2021