Many professionals in applied behavior analysis (ABA) provide services to people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). That’s because the practice of behavior analysis is widely recognized as an effective method of treating behavior disorders, specifically for children with autism. Yet, there are many other Board Certified Behavior Analyst® (BCBA®) jobs available to practitioners.
We talked with Kirk Gorbach, psychology faculty member with Purdue University Global, to discuss career opportunities in the field of ABA, BCBA certification, some typical behavior analyst jobs, and what else you can do as a BCBA.*
What Can You Do With an Applied Behavior Analysis Degree?
A majority of those with a master’s degree in psychology focused on applied behavior analysis seek BCBA certification, according to Gorbach.
“There are over 48,000 board-certified behavior analysts practicing,” he says. “There is a wide range of practice areas in which the BCBAs can choose to practice.”
BCBA certification is considered important for ABA practitioners.
“The BCBA implements the principles of applied behavior analysis to affect positive change in the lives of those they work with,” Gorbach says. “As a BCBA, you can work with people to achieve socially significant outcomes, such as helping to improve quality of life and independence in their daily routines.”
How Do Board Certified Behavior Analysts Help Those With Autism?
Gorbach points out that the majority of those with BCBA certification work with people with autism.
“According to the Behavior Analyst Certification Board, over 70% of board-certified behavior analysts support those with autism,” he says. “It can be common for behavior analysts to work with those with developmental disabilities. There are other areas that a behavior analyst might work in as well, as behavior-analytic services can be applied as a solution to a wide range of societal and individual issues.”
Gorbach says behavior analysts commonly:
- Conduct assessments
- Identify the function of challenging behavior
- Design and implement behavior support plans
- Support acquisition of socially significant skills through comprehensive treatment planning
- Collaborate with parents, teachers and therapists to promote generalization of behaviors and skills
Behavior analysts also help those with autism acquire skills in communication, safety, social, adaption, and daily living. They also help them integrate into the community environment successfully. Common workplace settings include clinics, schools, long-term care facilities, and in-home services.
“But there are certainly other practice areas other than the treatment of ASD,” Gorbach says.
What Other Behavior Analysis Jobs Are Available?
According to an analysis by the BACB, other BCBA careers include:
- Behavioral gerontology—This role focuses on helping seniors battle obesity, depression, diabetes, neurocognitive disorders, and other conditions.
- Behavioral pediatrics—Up to half of all pediatric medical visits involve behavior problems that could be remediated through behavior-analytic treatment.
- Behavioral sport psychology—This position focuses on the use of behavior analysis concepts, principles, and techniques to enhance the performance and satisfaction of athletes, teams, and coaches.
- Behavioral treatment of substance use disorders—Behavioral approaches here can prevent and treat misuse of legal and illegal drugs and associated psychosocial problems.
- Behavior analysis in brain injury rehabilitation—This role centers on developing both skill-acquisition and behavior-reduction programs throughout the continuum of care.
- Behavior analysis in education—This position provides a scientific approach to designing, implementing, and evaluating instruction based on analyzing interactions between teachers and students.
- Behavior analysis in environmental sustainability—Analysts collaborate with experts and policy makers to improve sustainable practices in a variety of environmental areas.
- Behavior analysis in health and fitness—In this field, behavior-analytic concepts and principles are applied to improve personal health and fitness, with a focus on health promotion through diet and exercise modification.
- Clinical behavior analysis—Analysts in this field apply conceptual and methodological tools to treat problems that have traditionally been characterized as mental disorders.
- Organizational behavior management—This role focuses on assessing and changing the work environment to improve employee performance and workplace culture.
- Prevention and behavioral intervention of child maltreatment—These professionals conduct interventions to prevent child maltreatment by concentrating on improving child health care, home safety, and parent-child interactions.
What Does the Future Look Like for Behavior Analysts?
The road ahead for behavior analysts looks good. According to the BACB, job growth for those with BCBA certification increased by more than 4,000% from 2010 to 2020. The increase from 2019 to 2020 alone was 17%, and it isn’t expected to slow down anytime soon.
“The outlook indicates there is still a high demand for those pursuing a career in the field of ABA,” Gorbach says. “There is a growing need, and I don't see that changing at any point in the near future.”
Gorbach also says there is a trend of behavior analysts going into practice for themselves.
“There are opportunities for behavior analysts to begin their own practice, especially if they are licensed behavior analysts.”
Become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst
Pursue a future in applied behavior analysis with our programs that emphasize practical application to prepare you with the skills to make a difference helping others. At Purdue Global, there are two degree programs that can prepare graduates for BCBA certification†:
Find out more about these programs by reaching out today.