Careers in ABA

What jobs can a Behaviour Analyst do?

A behaviour analyst can work in any area where behaviour change is targeted. The most popular career currently in ABA is early intervention for children with autism. In early intervention, the intensity of care can range from occasional parent counselling to intensive services early intervention ranging between 20 and 40 hours a week. Behaviour Analysts also work with other special needs populations (e.g., people with Down’s Syndrome, ADHD, learning difficulties, etc.).  During intensive services, practitioners can provide 1:1 counselling, parent training or assistance at school or at home. In the United States, a lot of schools have a BCBAs on staff. These BCBAs come into the classroom to help with behaviour issues, develop school-wide behaviour change procedures (e.g., targeting healthier food or more prosocial behaviour). The BCBAs can also be responsible to assist the teachers in devising IEPs (individualised education plan) for students receiving special education services.

Like schools, other settings might require group management strategies. These include group homes, prisons or large factories and are also potential work places for behaviour analysts. OBM (organisational behaviour management) is a major subbranch of ABA and here behaviour analysts employ their skills in the workplace. They can assist in assessment and selection of candidates for a job position or they can be in charge of increasing productivity through changes in employees behaviour. An important area often linked to OBM is behaviour safety. Behaviour analysts can work in large companies or for a governmental organisation in order to increase safety behaviours (e.g., wearing helmets, taking breaks from desk work or filtering water before consumption).

 

BCBAs can also be job coaches and help others to find a job, to send an application, to prepare for an interview and to show adequate performance at work. BCBAs often assist people with learning difficulties or special needs to integrate into the labour market. There are behaviour analysts who work as general life coaches. They assist their clients in achieving behaviour change goals such as increasing exercise, reducing procrastination less or adopting a healthier diet. Behaviour analysts sometimes work as coaches or trainers and sometimes assist coaches and trainers of athletes or highly specialised personnel. An athlete, a surgeon or a professional pianist might need to make very fine behaviour changes in order to improve their performance. A specialist for behaviour change can be of great importance here.

Another potential career for behaviour analysts lies in animal training. As with any area, it is important that they also bring specialised knowledge and skills about animal care and training to the table when pursuing a career in this area.

 

As in all sciences, ABA has a research community and university ties. BCBAs can go into research and gain a doctoral degree in Behaviour Analysis. They can also follow a university path and become a researcher, lecturer, or professor in Applied Behaviour Analysis. The supervision of aspiring BCBAs and BCaBAs has become of great importance as the field is growing, and there are now BCBAs who specialise in supervising future behaviour analysts.

 

Of course, there are many independent careers in ABA targeting spreading knowledge and skills about ABA (e.g., professionals running regular podcasts, providing seminars or workshops and writing books and materials about ABA-related subjects).

 

This list is in no way complete and is solely intended to provide an overview of some popular careers in ABA. Many other positions can be held by BCBAs. Further, behaviour analysts often make their own career by combining their knowledge on behaviour change techniques and another area of expertise.