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5 Careers for Graduates with a Master’s in Applied Behavior Analysis

What Can I Do With an ABA Degree?

  • Counseling
  • Psychological Assistant
  • Special Education Assistant
  • Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA)
  • Social Work

Demand is growing for behavior analysts as this new field takes root nationwide. The number of available positions doubled in just two years between 2012 and 2014! Although 18 states held behavior analyst opportunities in 2014, most of the jobs were offered in New Jersey, Massachusetts or California. The field of behavior analysis is growing as are the employment opportunities. Read below for possible careers with a Master’s in Applied Behavior Analysis.

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Resource: Top 10 Best Applied Behavior Analysis Online Programs

1. Counselors

By far, counseling is the most common career field for behavior analysis program graduates. This career has experienced steady growth over the last four years and has a projected job outlook that is significantly higher than other fields. Burning Glass Technologies estimates that approximately one in five counselor job listings are seeking behavior analyst graduates.

The ‘counseling’ career field encompasses many different specialties. Counselors can work in public schools, colleges, hospitals, clinics or residential programs. They can work with children, adults, disabled individuals, low-income families, addicts or other specific demographics. Of course, a graduate’s potential pay, job outlook and more vary depending on the specific counseling career they pursue.

2. Psychological Assistant

Nearly half of all 2014 job listings for behavior analysts specifically requested that the graduate possess a strong working knowledge of psychology. This coincides with the Bureau of Labor Statistics prediction that psychology-related careers will grow much faster than average.

Graduates who possess a Master’s in Behavior Analysis typically cannot practice as psychologists themselves, but they do often assist licensed psychologists with research, counseling or clinical tasks. Graduates who pursue a career in this field will usually be expected to obtain one of 15 available certifications from the American Board of Professional Psychology to demonstrate their expertise.

3. Special Education Assistant

Behavior analysts are tremendously helpful in special education settings. According to Burning Glass, experience with autism is the most desired skill set a behavior analyst can possess. Experience with other developmental disabilities is also a very highly desired trait.

As a special education assistant, graduates may work in public schools, private schools, or even residential facilities for the disabled. Some assistants may also work in hospitals or conduct home visits. Instead of teaching the children, certain assistants are employed to help teach the parents how to most effectively help their children. Behavior analysts who obtain a teaching licensure may also become special education teachers.

4. Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA)

Graduates can obtain a BCBA certification to become an independent practitioner of behavior analytic services. To qualify for the certification, applicants must complete their graduate program and have some supervised practical experience working in behavior analysis. After obtaining their initial certification, BCBAs must re-certify every two years.

BCBA-certified analysts are qualified to supervise other behavior analysts, including Registered Behavior Technicians and Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analysts. All these certified individuals work with clients who exhibit behavior difficulties by identifying behaviors, creating behavior plans, managing assaultive and crisis behaviors and providing assessments of students with complex or severe behavioral disorders. Although these are not Autism-specific certifications, many people in this field work exclusively with autistic clients.

5. Social Work

Clinical behavior analysts (CBAs) work closely with clinical social workers (CSWs) to provide superior services to clients. With a solid psychological and behavioral science background, CBAs are able to provide cognitive-focused CSWs with behavioral management services, interventions and management based on empirical evidence. These services are especially needed when social workers are assisting clients with autism and other developmental disorders.

Opportunities abound for patient, hardworking behavior analysts who want to work in the education, health care or social work sectors. The BLS expects that this field will continue to thrive with above-average job growth, making this an excellent time to begin pursuing a graduate degree in this high-demand field.