If you’re interested in a career that will empower you to make a real and lasting difference in the lives of others, then joining the field of applied behavior analysis by becoming a Board Certified Behavior Analyst® (BCBA®) might be the right career for you.

But what exactly is applied behavior analysis? How does it work? And what career paths are available to individuals interested in working in the field?

Below, we answer these and other common questions about ABA.

What is Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)?

The Behavior Analyst Certification Board® (BACB®) defines behavior analysis as:

The science of behavior, with a history extending back to the early twentieth century. Its guiding philosophy is behaviorism, which is based on the premise that attempts to improve the human condition through behavior change (e.g., education, behavioral health treatment) will be most effective if behavior itself is the primary focus.

As a field, applied behavior analysis seeks to answer questions around how behavior works, how learning occurs, and how both learning and behavior can be affected by factors such as the environment. This understanding can then be leveraged to devise strategies that can increase positive or helpful behaviors in individuals, while reducing negative or harmful behaviors.

How Does Applied Behavior Analysis Therapy Work?

Thousands of studies have been conducted in an effort to understand the basic laws of behavior in order to answer questions of how behavior is learned and how it changes. According to the BACB, these studies have come to a general consensus that “behavior is a product of its circumstances, particularly the events that immediately follow the behavior.”

Those who work in the field of applied behavior analysis leverage this fact to devise different techniques and methods of treatment to improve or change behavior in their patients, with an end goal of improving the individual’s overall wellbeing and quality of life.

These behavioral adjustments are accomplished in a number of ways, most commonly by demonstrating to the individual the consequences of their behavior and by teaching the individual more effective ways of behaving.

Although applied behavior analysis is commonly thought of as a means of treating individuals with autism or those with learning or intellectual disorders, the tenets of ABA can be applied to a diverse range of settings to achieve a number of outcomes.

Some of the more common strategies used in ABA treatment include:

  • Positive reinforcement: Rewarding appropriate behaviors in order to encourage the individual to continue the behavior.
  • Antecedent, Behavior, Consequence: Antecedent refers to everything that happens before a behavior, while consequences refer to everything that happens after the behavior. Understanding the antecedent, behavior, and consequence (commonly referred to as the A-B-Cs”) allows the BCBA to better devise treatment packages for their clients.

Learn everything You Need To Know About Becoming A Board Certified Behavior Analyst. Download our guide.

Download Your Guide

ABA Careers

According to research conducted by the BACB and compiled in the US Employment Demand for Behavior Analysts (2010-2020) report, demand for behavior analysts increased by 4,209 percent from 2010 to 2020. States with the highest level of demand included California, Massachusetts, Texas, Florida, and Georgia.

The most common job title held by those in the field is Board Certified Behavior Analyst. These individuals hold either the BCBA or BCBA-D® certification offered by the BACB. Assistant behavior analysts (who hold the BCaBA® certification) also play an integral role in the field.

According to ZipRecruiter, BCBAs earn an average salary of $87,535 nationwide, while in Boston, the average BCBA earns a salary of $94,562. Meanwhile, the average BCaBA earns $71,738 nationally and $77,497 in Boston. Salary can vary significantly depending on a number of factors, including where you work, how much experience you have, and more.

There are many subspecialties in the field, which you should be aware of if you are considering a career in ABA. These include:

  • Autism and Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities
  • Sports
  • Clinical Behavior Analysis
  • Organizational Behavior Management
  • Behavioral Gerontology
  • Brain Injury Rehabilitation
  • Education
  • Sustainability
  • Behavioral Pediatrics
  • Prevention/Intervention in Child Maltreatment
  • Health and Fitness
  • Treatment of Substance Abuse Disorders

Breaking Into The Field of ABA

If the work described above sounds interesting to you, and you’re interested in a career in applied behavior analysis, the good news is that there are multiple different paths that you might take to break into the field, and a variety of different job titles you might pursue.

Regis College’s School of Health Sciences is proud to offer programs in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), including the Master of Science in ABA  and  Certificate in ABA, our comprehensive, high-quality educational ABA programs housed within the Department of Applied Behavior Analysis. 

Through a combination of coursework and supervised fieldwork experience, the ABA programs equip students with the knowledge and experience needed to become competent, professional clinicians who are proficient in the research and practice of ABA.

The rigorous curriculum prepares students for certification as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) through the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB), and combines students’ personal and professional goals, personalized mentorship, and advanced professional training.

Download the ABA Career Guide.

Published Date