Perhaps best known as a type of therapy for autism spectrum disorder, applied behavior analysis (ABA) is rapidly extending its reach into an array of other areas. According to a 2021 article in Behavior Analysis in Practice, professionals in the field are finding new uses for applied behavior analysis in disciplines such as:
- Child welfare
- Organizational behavior
- Behavioral medicine
- Sports and fitness
The potential benefits of ABA demonstrate its importance. As autism awareness organization Autism Speaks notes, applied behavior analysis can elevate communication skills, strengthen attention, sharpen focus, build social skills, and enhance memory. While these benefits can improve the lives of individuals who have autism, they can also improve the lives of many other individuals.
The fact that ABA can be useful in many areas has translated into career opportunities for behavior analysts in a variety of settings. Where do behavior analysts work? Individuals who may be considering enrolling in a master’s in applied behavior analysis program can benefit from exploring the answer to that question and understanding where they can use their expertise.
What Is Applied Behavior Analysis?
Applied behavior analysis is a type of therapy traditionally used to assist individuals in improving behaviors and learning new skills. The exact nature and purpose of ABA can vary depending on where behavior analysts work. For example, the use of ABA in a school may vary considerably from its application in a business setting.
Some common applications of ABA therapy include:
- Assisting individuals with autism spectrum disorder and other developmental disorders. Clients can receive applied behavior analysis therapy at home or in settings such as schools, clinics, or community organizations.
- Enhancing employee performance and improving business results. As organizational change group OBM Network explains, both private and public sector organizations are potential settings for this use of applied behavior analysis.
- Improving health and fitness. Professionals can use ABA in health- and sports-related organizations to improve many aspects of individuals’ health and fitness.
Types of ABA Therapy
When professionals provide ABA therapy, they can do this in several ways. Some common examples of ABA include:
- Discrete trial training, which involves teaching each step of a particular skill and providing positive reinforcement when a client performs the skill successfully
- Early intensive behavioral intervention, which is a comprehensive type of therapy that typically focuses on young children and is highly individualized based on a child’s unique needs
- Natural environment teaching, in which clients have the opportunity to practice skills in real-world settings (for example, when a child practices a skill at school)
What Do Behavior Analysts Do?
A behavior analyst’s day-to-day responsibilities often depend on the setting in which they work. Understanding what behavior analysts do in different settings can be beneficial for individuals considering this career path.
Professionals using ABA therapy may do the following:
- Provide therapy. Working as a behavior analyst entails responsibilities such as observing and assessing clients, developing and implementing treatment plans, reinforcing positive behaviors, and teaching clients specific skills.
- Assist corporations and other organizations. A behavior analyst working in a business setting may help employees with goal setting to improve performance, analyze consumer behavior to gain a better understanding of the effects of advertising, or analyze an entire organization to identify opportunities for improvement.
- Strengthen education. Individuals who have expertise in applied behavior analysis can provide counseling to students, which involves responsibilities such as holding sessions with students and creating plans to address issues that students are facing. ABA professionals may also create personalized learning plans to improve students’ academic performance.
How Much Do Behavior Analysts Make?
According to Payscale, the median annual salary for behavior analysts was approximately $68,000 as of March 2023. However, precisely how much behavior analysts make is dependent on numerous factors, such as the setting in which they work and their level of experience. Behavior analysts in the top 10% of the salary range earned approximately $87,000, while those in the lowest 10% earned about $48,000.
Where Do Behavior Analysts Work?
Applied behavior analysts can apply their expertise in a wide variety of environments. Several examples of where behavior analysts work are outlined below.
Applied behavior analysts can work in private or public clinics. Some common clinical environments where ABA is used include inpatient and outpatient facilities and hospitals.
Within a business environment, applied behavior analysts can work in functions such as human resources or market research. They may also use ABA for organizational behavior management in areas such as training or safety improvement.
Criminal Justice Organizations
Inside Behavior Analysis notes that behavior analysts can apply their skills in prisons to help reduce prison misconduct. A 2022 article in Perspectives on Behavior Science also notes that they can work in juvenile justice organizations. Additionally, applied behavior analysts can work at the FBI as criminal investigators or in developing criminal profiles, according to Indeed.
Applied behavior analysts can work in schools in functions such as special education or counseling. Teachers in general education also can employ ABA for classroom management and to reduce disruptive behavior.
Settings Related to Athletics and Fitness
As the Behavior Analysis in Health, Sport, and Fitness Special Interest Group explains, professionals can use applied behavior analysis to improve health and fitness in settings such as consulting practices or in health and wellness coaching organizations.
A Rewarding Career in Applied Behavior Analysis
Applied behavior analysis is a critical tool in helping to improve the lives of individuals in numerous settings and situations. Given the range of settings where behavior analysts can work, professionals in this field can choose environments that align with their interests.
Those who have an interest in ABA can explore Regis College’s online Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis program to learn how it can help them achieve their career ambitions. Offering instruction on the principles of ABA, behavior assessments, and treatment evaluations, the program can help set the stage for a rewarding career.
Start your educational journey in applied behavior analysis today.