Autism professional or graduate certificate programs are designed for those who work in the field or are affected by the disorder, including parents, psychologists, and mental health specialists, allied health experts, teachers, and human services consultants. Curriculum varies by profession, but most cover behavioral treatment approaches, characteristics of autism, development of communication skills and modification techniques. Practical experience is gained through internships. These programs can be completed in a year and require a relevant bachelor's degree for admission. Teachers may be expected to have a current license.
Coursework in these programs involve cognition, physiology and psychology-based classes, like social competence and communication, educational and counseling interventions, and positive behavioral procedures. Other common topics include:
- Autism disorder characteristics and assessments
- Diagnosing autism
- Sensory issues
- Physical and psychological transitioning
- Behavioral analysis
Graduates are eligible for careers in the educational, therapeutic and medical industries. Some popular job titles are:
- Mental health counselors
- Social workers
- Speech and language therapists
- Special education teachers
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for special education teachers and speech pathologists is predicted to grow at a rate of 3% and 27% respectively over the 2018-2028 decade with median salaries of $56,680 and $77,510 as of May 2018.
Professionals who specialize in autism must meet their primary vocation's necessary certifications and licensure stipulations. The Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) offers two levels of credentials, including Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) and Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA). Applicants for the BCBA must have a master's degree, while BCaBA applicants need at least a bachelor's. Exam eligibility requires autism coursework and experience. Holders take continuing education classes to maintain certification.
Autism certification program graduates are prepared to work as special education teachers and speech pathologists, among other roles in social service and psychology. Curriculum includes lectures and practicums.