Prospective graduate students interested in working with individuals with learning disabilities may be interested in ABA Careers and exploring educational opportunities in the field of applied behavior analysis. The specific duties of an individual working in a behavior analyst job will vary according the setting they work in and population they work with, among other factors. However, those in behavior analysts’ jobs will share common goals regardless of how their roles may vary. The primary goal of behavior analysts is to modify the negative behaviors of their clients, through manipulation of variables within their environment.
What does this mean? ABA jobs focus on establishing motivation, rewarding desired behavior, and working to prevent undesired behaviors. The way this outcome is achieved will vary depending on the setting and the client’s specific challenges. Therefore, below is a brief and non-exhaustive overview of possible careers for individuals with Applied Behavior Analysis Degrees.
Some applied behavior consultants pursue careers working with children or adults diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. These consultants may have undergone training to be applied behavior analysis autism specialists or be board certified behavior analysts.
The primary role of behavior specialists working with this client population is implementing various teaching techniques including; discrete trial training, natural environment training, and pivotal response training. Early intervention will focus on younger children, typically eighteen months and older, and specialists will be trained to teach basic verbal, play, and social skills. This may take place in a clinic, school or home setting for varying hours with numerous clients each week.
Board certified behavior analyst careers in this area may share some of the same intervention responsibilities as behavior specialists however their duties might also include assessment of the child’s skills, development of teaching programs, and monitoring of child progress as well as making recommendations for future interventions.
Other ABA specialists may pursue employment opportunities that involve working with adults of various ages diagnosed with developmental disabilities. While there is a degree of overlap in job characteristics with the previous description, the primary focus of this area involves working with individuals are caregivers to decrease behavioral excesses, teach functional living and/or communication skills, and maintain appropriate levels of behavior.
An example of one scenario may require the ABA specialist to assess the function of aggressive behavior, and teach their client a functional alternative such as appropriately communicating their desire for a specific item or activity. Board certified behavior analysts and behavioral specialists may work in family homes, residential care facilities, and adult day training centers, amongst others. Both behavior specialists and board certified behavior analysts may share the responsibilities of program implementation and caregiver training, although the behavior analyst will be primarily responsible for development and monitoring.
A third area in which applied behavior consultants may pursue employment may be in the public school system. Behavior analysts in schools work through tiered intervention systems to prevent bullying, and facilitate a positive learning environment for all students. In addition, interventions may target reducing school dropout rates, improving academic performance, and helping students develop problem solving skills.
A number of applied behavior consultants may also seek out careers in organizational settings. Board certified behavior analysts in these settings often work as traveling consultants for various businesses. Consultations typically work as short term contractors to address specific aspects of an organization that would benefit from improvement. This may include increasing employee performance or efficiency, reducing production costs, and improving employee morale or satisfaction. The behavior analysts in this area use the same principles as behavior analysts in other areas to modify employee behavior at all levels of the organization.
Another specialization within the field of applied behavior analysis is animal training. Although, opportunities in this area of specialization may require additional background training in biology or zoology, there still remains a need for behavior analysts in these settings. Potential employers in this field may include, zoos and aquariums, theme parks, and pet training companies. These behavior analysts seek to assist zookeepers in feeding, veterinary procedures, general training, and obedience training in the case of pet training.
The applied behavior analysis salary and job outlook may entice those interested in psychology, behavior modification and/or human services into this field(1). Although, each area may present varying opportunities depending on job availability, and the candidate’s background and ABA training. Those interested in working with children or adults diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder or developmental disabilities may find a number of opportunities for stable employment and fulfilling work environment.