If you’ve decided to dive into the world of applied behavior analysis (ABA), you might be wondering, how much do behavior analysts make? 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. You’ll need to have an idea of applied behavior analyst salaries when making important decisions like:
- where to live,
- if you buy or rent,
- how you’ll support yourself and/or your family.
This article discusses a range of applied behavior analysis salaries because there are various capacities that board certified analysts can work with their clients. Experience and location affect the salary as well. Some behavior analyst roles only require a high school diploma, while other roles require an analyst with more experience and education.
Some applied behavior analysts aim high and go for a Master’s degree or Doctoral degree. An advanced degree might be a great choice if you’re career goals include supervisory or leadership roles. Many large companies and clinical practices require that a behavior analyst at least have a Master’s degree to better serve their clients. They may require a Doctoral degree for top positions.
You’ll want to continue reading to understand:
- the different types of ABA certifications offered by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB)
- the low and high ends of applied behavior analysis salary amounts, and
- where to go if you’re looking to make more money than average and increase your earning potential.
Types of credentials = different applied behavior analysis certification salary amounts
Typically, anyone with an advanced degree (think Master’s degree or Doctorate) in a specific field will make more money than their non-advanced counterparts (Bachelor’s degree or Associate’s).
In the field of applied behavioral analysis, there are four primary certification types offered by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board. 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: A Board Certified Behavior Analyst 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. The BCBA average salary is usually higher than the salary of a BCaBA or RBT. According to payscale.com, someone with a masters in ABA salary can be about $68,000/year.
- BCBA-D: This is simply considered a Board Certified Behavior Analyst 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. Registered behavior technicians have a high school diploma. They are trained and certified in applied behavior analysis. RBTs 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. So how much does a behavior analyst make?
The low end of the scale: Applied Behavior Analyst Salary
The average applied behavior analysis job salary will tend to remain on the lower end if they are working for government agencies, which in this case includes a school-based position.
Examples of government-related and/or government-funded behavior analysis 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: Applied Behavior Analyst Salary
The scale for pay in the behavior analysis industry is quite large when board certified behavior analysts enter the private sector. They will find many different jobs in behavior analysis that will serve them well. Savvy behavior analysts may double or triple their pay for the same work. They may have more flexibility than they did in the past, especially in the current job market.
Private practice is popular, and many corporations need board certified behavior analysts 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 practice mental health clinic (starting from $65k to $80k in Georgia).
With the increase in emphasis on early intervention, the job market is favorable for board certified behavior analysts who want to work with autistic children as ABA therapists. Adults and children with autism spectrum disorder can benefit from the advanced training provided by applied behavior analysts.
A board certified behavior analyst salary can potentially exceed $100k a year!
Corporate jobs are where the money is at!
Many people think ABA specialists must work in a clinic or school setting. That’s simply not the case. Major businesses and corporations oftentimes hire board certified 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. They will use the reports offered about their staff to ensure they know where each person will succeed.
These behavior analysis 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
- 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.
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.
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!). A certified behavior analyst salary for consulting can be quite high. The best applied behavior analysis consultant can triple their average yearly salary. It is all about commitment, time, and drive.
Keeping Two Or More Jobs
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 applied behavior analysis 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.
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 private practice and consult with multiple clients at once. Everyone has their own choice to make, and each choice changes their salary. Behavior analyst salaries will change depending on where they choose to work, what job duties they are responsible for, and who they report to.
Master of Education (M.Ed.) | Northeastern State University
Behavior and Learning Disorders | Georgia State University