An applied behavior analyst, also known as an ABA specialist, is someone who works with children diagnosed with autism and similar conditions. They use behavior therapy as a way to teach children what to do in different situations. A specialist might work with non-verbal children and teach them how to communicate with parents and others in various ways. They can also teach children how to identify situation cues, have short conversations and take care of daily tasks like washing their faces or getting dressed. ABA specialists can use some different methods to advance their careers.

Take College Classes

Though it’s possible to work in ABA therapy as a college student or without a college degree, you need at least a bachelor’s degree before you can do many of the top therapies. Taking college classes will help you work on your degree, but you should look at some of the other courses that you can take. Psychology classes will teach you more about human behavior, communications courses can help you communicate with the parents of autistic children and social work classes can show you how to identify cases of abuse or neglect.

Become Certified

ABA therapists must have certification before they can work as a full-time therapist. The Behavior Analyst Certification Board requires that applicants take an exam and pass the exam before receiving certification. You’ll also need to meet some basic requirements too. It offers the exam for those who have a bachelor’s degree and practical therapy experience, those who have a graduate degree and teach therapy and those who have a doctoral degree and 10 years of experience.

Join Professional Organizations

To advance your career as an applied behavior analyst, you should join professional organizations like the Association for Behavior Analysis International or the Association for Science in Autism Treatment. These organizations welcome both professionals working in the field as well as the parents of autistic children. They work together to hold fundraisers to raise awareness of autism and to increase funding into its research. You’ll also have the chance to meet with other therapists to learn which methods they find most useful and meet with parents who may need a new therapist.

Attend Support Group Meetings

Though you can advertise your services and find clients through the agency you work for or the organizations you join, you should also consider attending support group meetings. Support groups are open to the parents of autistic children. They talk about topics like new research and advances in the study of autism, some of the therapies that work best for both verbal and non-verbal children and which schools offer the best support for kids with autism. Attending even one meeting will open your eyes to the problems that those parents face and help you identify the best ways to help them.

Sign Up for Advanced Courses

Even if you get your certification with just a bachelor’s degree, you should consider earning your master’s degree or at least taking some advanced classes in graduate school. ABA graduate programs include courses on assessment strategies, interventions that you can use in the field, teaching language to children with autism and ethics for ABA therapists. If you sign up for a full program, you’ll spend several semesters working with children in different settings.

Related Resource: Top 10 Best Applied Behavior Analyst Online Programs

ABA therapists often work with autistic children in their own homes. They offer strategies and learning methods that teach kids how to interact with their peers and how to better control their emotional outbursts. To advance your career as an applied behavior therapist, you can attend support groups for parents and join professional organizations.