ABA Therapist: Job Description & Career Requirements

Learn about the education needed to become an ABA (applied behavioral analysis) therapist. Get a quick overview of details about job duties to determine if this is the career for you. View article »

View 10 Popular Schools »

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

94% college-bound high school students
…said it was important to communicate with colleges during the search process. (Source: Noel-Levitz 2012 trend study)

Select a school or program

View More Schools
Show Me Schools
 Replay
  • 0:02 Essential Information
  • 0:51 Job Description
  • 1:18 Education Requirements
  • 1:47 Voluntary Certification

Find the perfect school

Video Transcript

Essential Information

Degree Level Associate's or bachelor's degree
Degree Field(s) Psychology, behavior analysis, or a related field
Licensure/Certification Voluntary certification available
Experience Practicums may be required
Key Skills Patience and empathy; communication and teaching skills
Median Annual Salary (2016)** $35,090

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.com

Applied behavioral analysis (ABA) therapists work with autistic children and other patients with developmental issues, either in a clinical setting or a patient's home. These therapists often reinforce positive, learned behaviors using specialized techniques that may include reward systems, incidental teaching, pivotal response training, and milieu therapy. An ABA therapist works under the supervision of a behaviorial analyst, a position that requires a graduate degree and, oftentimes, licensure or certification. According to PayScale.com, ABA therapists earned between $24,719 and $52,106 per year, as of January 2016, with a median salary of $35,090.

Job Description

ABA therapists usually work one-on-one with children who have autism, a brain disorder that can lead to issues with social interaction and repetitive behaviors as well as verbal and nonverbal communication. Based on consultations with behavior analysts, ABA therapists employ various speech and language therapies as well as behavior management techniques to help their clients develop social and life skills.

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Behavioral Sciences, General
  • Biopsychology
  • Clinical Psychology, General
  • Cognitive Psychology and Psycholinguistics
  • Cognitive Science
  • Community Psychology
  • Comparitive Psychology
  • Counseling Psychology, General
  • Environmental Psychology
  • Experimental Psychology
  • Family Psychology
  • Forensic Psychology, General
  • Industrial and Organizational Psychology
  • Medical Psychology
  • Personality Psychology
  • Physiological Psychology
  • Psychology, General
  • Psychometrics and Quantitative Psychology
  • Social Psychology

Education Requirements

Becoming an ABA therapist usually requires formal education in psychology, behavior analysis, or a related field of study. Required education varies according to employer, but an associate's or bachelor's degree is common. Courses in these degrees might cover:

  • Screening and assessment
  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Human development and behavior
  • Abnormal and clinical psychology

Additionally, students might be required to complete a practicum.

Voluntary Certification

Some ABA therapists choose to demonstrate expertise in the field by earning voluntary professional certification. The Behavior Analyst Certification Board offers the Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) designation to applicants who have at least a high school diploma and 40 hours of training, in addition to passing a competency assessment and exam. The Board also confers the Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA) title to candidates with at least a bachelor's degree and supervised practical experience who pass an exam.


In summary, applied behavioral analysis therapists work with autistic children and other patients with developmental issues. ABA therapists typically need an associate's or bachelor's degree in behavior analysis or psychology, and they might opt to test for voluntary certification.

Next: View Schools

What is your highest level of education?

Some College
Complete your degree or find the graduate program that's right for you.
High School Diploma
Explore schools that offer bachelor and associate degrees.
Still in High School
Earn your diploma or GED. Plan your undergraduate education.

Schools you may like:

Popular Schools

The listings below may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users.

    • MS in Psychology - Applied Behavioral Analysis
    • MS in Psychology
    • MS in Psychology - Forensic Psychology
    • MS in Psychology - Addictions
    • MS in Educational Psychology
    • BS in Psychology in Applied Behavior Analysis
    • BS in Psychology in Industrial/Organizational Psychology
    • BS in Psychology in Addictions
    • BS in Criminal Justice - Forensic Psychology
    • Applied Behavior Analysis Postbaccalaureate Certificate
    • Graduate Certificate in Addictions
    • Graduate Certificate in Industrial/Organizational Psychology

    What is your highest level of education completed?

  • What is your highest level of education?

    • Ph.D. in General Psychology - Cognition and Instruction
    • Ph.D. in General Psychology - Industrial and Organizational Psychology
    • Ph.D. in General Psychology - Performance Psychology
    • Doctor of Philosophy in Counselor Education and Supervision
    • M.S. Psychology with an Emphasis in Gerontology
    • M.S. in Psychology with an Emphasis in Health Psychology
    • M.S. in Psychology with an Emphasis in Human Factors
    • MS in Psychology: General Psychology
    • MS in Psychology: Industrial & Organizational Psychology
    • MS in Christian Counseling
    • Bachelor of Science in Behavioral Health Science with an Emphasis in Trauma
    • BS in Psychology
    • B.S. in Psychology with an Emphasis in Performance and Sports Psychology

    What is your highest level of education?

    • BA: Psychology
    • BA: Psychology - Clinical/Counseling
    • BA: Psychology - General
    • BA: Psychology - Experimental
    • BA: Psychology - Developmental

    What is your highest level of education completed?

    • Counseling, M.A.
    • Counseling, M.A. Online
    • Psychology, B.S.
    • Psychology, B.S. - Emphasis in Biblical Studies
    • Psychology, B.S. - Emphasis in Clinical Counseling
    • Psychology, A.S.

    What is your highest level of education completed?

    • Ph.D. in Counseling & Psychological Studies
    • Ph.D. in Counseling & Psychological Studies - Biblical Counseling
    • Ph.D. in Counseling & Psychological Studies - Grief Counseling
    • Ph.D. in Counseling & Psychological Studies - Human Services Counseling
    • Ph.D. in Counseling & Psychological Studies - Human Services/Student Affairs
    • Ph.D. in Counseling & Psychological Studies - International
    • M.S. in General Psychology - Industrial-Organizational Psychology
    • Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership - Coaching and Mentoring
    • M.S. in General Psychology
    • Master of Arts in Human Services Counseling
    • M.S. in General Psychology - Leadership Coaching
    • Bachelor of Science in Professional Studies - Leadership Studies
    • Bachelor of Science in Professional Studies - Psychology
    • Bachelor of Science in Psychology
    • Bachelor of Science in Psychology - Clinical and Counseling Psychology

    What is your highest level of education completed?

  • What is your highest level of education completed?

  • What is your highest level of education?

    • M.S. Nursing - Psychiatric Mental Health

    What is your highest level of education?

  • What is your highest level of education?

Find your perfect school

What is your highest level of education?