Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs®) are experts in behavior analysis, the science of human behavior. These professionals are trained in analyzing behavior and implementing behavior-analytic interventions. Behavior analysts evaluate specific behaviors and skills to develop interventions to make behavior change that enhances an individual’s quality of life.
So, what can you do with a BCBA® certification? Over 70% of analysts work with children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) (https://www.bacb.com/bacb-certificant-data/), overseeing the implementation of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy. However, ABA professionals can work with other populations in other settings as well.
Read on to learn more about the many careers a BCBA® can pursue.
What Can You Do with an Applied Behavior Analysis Degree?
ABA coursework provides the knowledge and skills to improve socially significant behaviors. Most people who obtain a graduate degree through an Applied Behavior Analysis program become board certified behavior analysts (BCBA®). As we’ll further discuss, behavior analysts can work in many roles, from healthcare to education. However, not everyone with an ABA degree practices solely as a BCBA®. In addition to a master’s degree in behavior analysis, BCBAs® are required to complete supervised fieldwork and pass a board exam. Instead of or in addition to board certification, some people who complete an ABA degree program use this knowledge to work as therapists, entrepreneurs, counselors, special education teachers, researchers, social workers, and in other careers where expertise in human behavior is valuable.
What Are the Most Common Jobs a BCBA Does?
BCBAs® most commonly work with children, adolescents, and adults with an autism diagnosis. This is due to laws that have been passed that require health insurance to pay for ABA therapy to treat the core deficits of autism. Behavior analysts who work with individuals on the autism spectrum create ABA therapy programs that are typically implemented by behavior technicians. The behavior analysts assess learners skills, such as communication, social, daily living activities, and interfering behaviors, and then create goals that address areas of weakness and build upon skill strengths to improve the learner’s quality of life. Behavior analysts create ABA interventions individualized to the learner’s unique needs. Behavior analysts work with children in clinics, client’s homes, schools, and other community settings.
The general responsibilities BCBAs have include:
- Assessing skills to identify areas of skill strengths and need
- Conducting functional behavior assessments (FBAs) to identify variables related to interfering behaviors
- Training and supervising behavior technicians and Board Certified assistant Behavior Analysts (BCaBAs)
- Designing and implementing skill acquisition and behavior intervention plans
- Training parents and caregivers on the implementation of their child’s individualized goals
- Collaborating with other professionals (i.e., speech therapists, psychologists, teachers, psychiatrists, doctors)
- Writing treatment plans, session notes, and other clinical documentation
What Careers Can a BCBA Have Outside of Working with Children with Autism?
According to the BACB®, 72% of BCBAs work with autistic individuals. This leaves 28% of the field to work with other populations. A behavior analyst’s education and expertise can be applied in many different fields.
Some of the other career paths a BCBA may take include:
Education—Behavior analysts can use their knowledge and experience in many capacities within the education field. They may become dual certified as teachers, work as a district BCBA, or become a professor.
Parent Education and Support—Some behavior analysts work primarily with parents. They provide parents of children with individualized strategies on challenging areas, such as toilet training, addressing executive function skills, and behavior management.
Organizational Behavior Management (OBM)—OBM specialists work with organizations on assessing and modifying employee performance and workplace culture. Behavior analysts in this ABA subspecialty can support organizations in many fields by developing processes that improve performance, retention, and organizational growth.
Fitness and Wellness—Some behavior analysts work in the field of health, fitness, and wellness. They use the principles of behavior to promote healthy eating and exercise and improve fitness.
Brain Injury Rehabilitation—Experts in behavior can be vital for teaching new skills and modifying behaviors for individuals recovering from brain injuries.
Behavioral Gerontology—BCBAs can also be essential for enhancing the quality of life for aging adults. They do this by supporting the maintenance of daily living skills, encouraging independence, supporting language and memory, and more.
Clinical Behavior Analysis—Professionals in this subspecialty support mental health needs, such as depression, anxiety, and stress reduction.
Substance Abuse—Behavior analysts can prevent and treat substance use disorders using behavioral approaches.
Behavioral Pediatrics—Behavior analysts in behavioral pediatrics work as part of an interdisciplinary team, supporting childhood behavior challenges, such as cooperation with medical routines and healthcare management.
What is the Job Outlook for this Position?
Applied Behavior Analysis professionals are in high demand, with increasing career opportunities. From 2021 to 2022, demand for behavior analysts increased by 23%. As of December 2023, there are over 64,000 BCBAs® worldwide. While this number continues to grow rapidly, it isn’t keeping up with the significant need. The demand for behavior analysts to work with those with developmental disabilities, in particular, continues to rise.
Becoming a BCBA® at Bierman
Behavior analysts at Bierman are pivotal in transforming the lives of children diagnosed with autism. Employing a unique, play-based approach, we target foundational skills vital for every child, ensuring individualized success.
Pillars of Our Practice at Bierman
- Clinical Excellence: Pioneering innovative strategies in autism care, Bierman stands as a beacon of revolutionary, data-driven approaches.
- Comprehensive Support: Our foundation rests on teamwork. From robust clinical training to a vast administrative network, we ensure you’re always equipped, supported, and poised to make a difference.
- Limitless Personal Growth: Embodying progress and possibilities™, we offer tailored mentorship, diversified training, and ample career opportunities, ensuring you soar to your utmost potential.
- Unwavering Ethics: We’re unwavering in our ethical code, always ensuring decisions prioritize the well-being of our learners and their families.
- Focused Client Care: Our BCBAs maintain caseloads capped at 7, ensuring undivided attention and unparalleled care.
Being a BCBA at Bierman Autism Centers isn’t just about a title; it’s about being at the forefront of transformative care, guiding and nurturing lives every day. With a balanced approach to work, a focus on continuous learning, and a thriving, collaborative environment, we ensure that both our children and our teams have the resources and support they need to flourish.
Achieving a Rewarding Career as a BCBA
Working in behavior analysis opens doors for an enriched, rewarding career. Whether you’re passionate about supporting autistic children on their path to success or intrigued by the prospect of applying behavior analytic principles to other fields, pursuing certification as a BCBA® is the gateway to a gratifying career. Becoming a behavior analyst may be the perfect choice if you are interested in a profession where you can truly make a difference.
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Behavior Analyst Certification Board. (n.d).BACB certificant data. Retrieved from https://www.bacb.com/BACB-certificant-data.
Behavior Analyst Certification Board. (2023). US employment demand for behavior analysts: 2010–2022. Littleton, CO: Author.
Data and Statistics on Autism Spectrum Disorder | CDC. (2023, May 12). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/data.html
Rodriguez, M., Sundberg, D., & Biagi, S. (2017). OBM applied! A practical guide to implementing organizational behavior management. Melbourne, FL: ABA Technologies, Inc