ABA Therapist Job Description
ABA stands for 'applied behavior analysis,' and an ABA therapist career generally involves working with children of various ages on the autism spectrum or with other types of conditions. These therapists typically work one-on-one with patients to improve verbal and communication skills and decrease problematic behaviors. ABA therapy jobs may also require therapists to:
- Educate families in methods to help their children learn
- Perform evaluations and assessments
- Carry out interventions and treatment plans
- Track a patient's progress
- Communicate progress with managers and parents
ABA therapist jobs may require working in patients' homes or in other clinical settings. Most of these therapists work full-time and are generally supervised by a board certified behavior analyst (BCBA) manager.
How to Become an ABA Therapist
Students wishing to become an ABA therapist need to obtain the proper education and undergo the necessary training for the field. There are also a variety of characteristics and other skills that may prove beneficial to the career. Below is a step-by-step process for becoming an ABA therapist.
Step 1: ABA Therapist Education
While a BCBA typically requires an advanced degree in behavior analysis or psychology, becoming an ABA therapist usually only requires an associate's or bachelor's degree. While an ABA therapy degree can be in education or psychology, there are a number of bachelor's and master's programs specifically in ABA therapy available. There are also graduate certificate and doctoral programs available in the field for interested students.
Bachelor's degree programs in ABA therapy are generally offered as a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Science (BS) degree. Several of these programs are even available in online formats for flexibility. Courses in these degree programs may cover topics such as:
- Human development
- Behavior analysis
Step 2: ABA Therapist Requirements
Usually during their undergraduate studies, students receive a range of ABA therapy training and hands-on experience. Students may gain real-world experience through internships and/or undergraduate research opportunities.
Typically this experience, combined with a bachelor's degree in the field, prepares students for their Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA) certification. This certification is offered through the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) and requires an exam.
Step 3: Other ABA Therapist Qualifications
There are several additional characteristics and skills that may help prepare students for a job in the field. ABA therapist careers may be stressful at times and generally require a lot of patience and compassion. It is also important for a therapist to be flexible and adapt to the emotions and capabilities of their patients. Communication skills are also required for working with a patient, their family, and a BCBA.
How Much do ABA Therapists Make?
As of June 2019, Payscale. com reported that the average ABA therapist salary was $34,602 per year. The website also reported that this average salary increased with experience, as therapists with 5 to 9 years of experience made an average of $36,829, while those with 20 or more years of experience made an average of $44,219 per year.