What Can I Do with a Masters in Applied Behavior Analysis?

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If you have your heart set on a career that makes a difference for others, you may find yourself wondering, “What can I do with a masters in applied behavior analysis?”

Masters in Applied Behavior Analysis

Getting an ABA masters can help prepare you for a fulfilling career in which you help people achieve their highest potential. As an expert in behavior analysis, you may choose to work in schools, mental health organizations, community agencies, or residential facilities.

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By partnering with individuals, families, and other support providers, you may guide people toward positive choices and healthy behaviors.

What Can You Do with a Masters in Applied Behavior Analysis?

Applied Behavior Analysis Psychologist with a patient

Some of the most common jobs for a behavior analyst are found in therapy or counseling settings. As an applied behavior analyst, you may employ evidence-based therapeutic practices to help children or adults adjust their interactions and behaviors.

Most jobs of this nature require certification or licensure. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most behavioral disorder and mental health counselors earn between $30,590 and $78,700 each year. Many work in family service agencies and mental health centers. With a masters, you may have a higher starting salary.

A master’s degree may also lead to leadership roles. You may oversee counselors, social workers, or program coordinators as a manager in a community or social services organization. An applied behavior analysis degree could pair well with a special education, psychology, or social work background.

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Adding an ABA masters may allow you to better reach the clients or students with whom you work. With additional training, you might also qualify to work as a psychologist. ABA skills can help make a difference in the workplace as well. Organizational behavior management (OBM) is a branch of ABA that is influential in the field of human resources.

Some schools might allow you to teach ABA-related courses to undergraduate students. With a masters, you’re most likely to get hired by a community college.

3 Things You Can Do with a Masters in Applied Behavior Analysis

Social and Community Service Manager with a teenager

With an ABA, you may work one-on-one with individuals or provide leadership in organizations that offer support services.

1. Social and Community Service Manager

You may have chosen an ABA degree to help people in need. Your master’s program may help equip you with leadership skills that could be useful for managing a community service agency that helps people in need of care and support.

Social service managers often work in long-term care facilities, family services agencies, and rehabilitation centers.

2. Behavioral Disorder Counselor

Behavioral Disorder Counselor with a child

Many applied behavior analysis graduates work in counseling settings. As a counselor, you might work in an office or healthcare setting to help children or adults adjust their thoughts and behaviors over time.

To practice independently, it’s necessary to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) or to earn another counseling credential. You may work in a mental health agency or a school, or you may offer consulting services.

3. Special Education Teacher

Special Education Teacher with a student

ABA practices are especially beneficial when working with children who have autism. If you’re a special education teacher or want to become one, you may cultivate your classroom skills by earning a masters in this field.

In addition to an ABA degree, this job typically requires state teacher licensure. Special education teachers work at every grade level, from preschool through high school.

Applied Behavior Analysis Careers & Salaries

Applied Behavior Analysis Careers & Salaries

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, occupations in community and social service are growing at a 12% rate. A masters in applied behavior analysis may open the door for you to pursue many rewarding careers, including the following.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists $79,820
Postsecondary Psychology Teachers $78,180
Social and Community Service Managers $69,600
Human Resources Specialists $63,490
Special Education Teachers $61,420
School and Career Counselors $58,120
Social Workers $51,760
Social Science Research Assistants $49,210
Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors $47,660
Rehabilitation Counselors $37,530

Many of these jobs, including working as a teacher, a licensed clinical social worker, or a school psychologist, require additional training and certification outside of the ABA program.

Is Financial Aid Available?

Masters in Applied Behavior Analysis Accreditation

Yes, qualifying graduate students may benefit from a variety of financial aid opportunities. You may be able to secure grants or low-interest loans from the state or federal government. To get started, you can fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

You may be chosen to receive scholarship or fellowship funds too. These financial gifts are awarded by educational institutions as well as industry groups, philanthropic associations, and community organizations. Receiving these awards involves completing an application process and being selected as a winner.

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Some workplaces even encourage educational pursuits through tuition reimbursement programs for their employees.

What Is Applied Behavior Analysis?

Applied behavior analysis is an evidence-based approach to understanding and modifying behavior. It is often used with people who have autism or other developmental disabilities, but it is also used with others groups.

Through ABA practices, participants may be able to increase their communication skills or decrease harmful behaviors. Therapy plans are tailored to each individual’s needs and goals. Through ABA treatment, people can develop skills that may help them build relationships, accomplish goals, or increase their independence.

What Is a Masters in Applied Behavior Analysis Good For?

school counselor with a student

A masters in ABA can help prepare you to offer behavioral therapy to people with disabilities or other concerns.

Some programs may satisfy the coursework requirement needed for taking the Board Certified Behavior Analyst exam. You may work as an ABA therapist in a home, school, office, or healthcare setting.

An applied behavior analysis degree may enhance your practice as a special education teacher, school counselor, or social worker. It might also qualify you to head up a community organization.

Some human resources professionals pursue ABA master’s degrees so they can better understand the motivations, actions, and learning habits of an organization’s employees.

What Do You Learn in Applied Behavior Analysis?

Applied Behavior Analysis student in library

When studying for an M.S. in Applied Behavior Analysis, you’re likely to begin with an overview course that introduces you to the foundational principles of this field.

Your studies may also include a survey of autism and other behavioral, developmental, or mental health challenges. In courses like behavior assessments and behavior interventions, you may learn to conduct observations and use your findings to develop individualized therapy plans.

Some classes can help develop your leadership abilities and train you to supervise other team members. Your program will likely also include a course that covers ethical considerations for ABA.

What Is a BCBA?

Certified Behavior Analyst

The acronym BCBA stands for Board Certified Behavior Analyst. This credential is issued by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB).

To become a BCBA, you must hold a graduate degree in this field, and your training has to include coursework that aligns with BACB standards. Many ABA master’s programs include courses that qualify.

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In addition, supervised field experience is required. That requirement may need to be completed outside of your graduate program. After that, you may sit for the qualifying exam. Once you’ve earned this credential, it’s necessary to maintain it with continuing education.

What Does a BCBA Do?

A BCBA often works as a therapist who provides tailored interventions for people with autism or other behavioral or mental health issues.

Common therapy settings include schools, mental health agencies, and client’s homes. As a BCBA, you’ll often be able to practice independently rather than needing oversight from a higher-level professional.

In fact, BCBAs are qualified to supervise other ABA practitioners. As a BCBA, you might have a team of behavioral counselors or other service providers who report to you and carry out therapy plans that have been approved by you.

What Jobs Can I Get with a Masters in Applied Behavior Analysis?

Therapist comforting a patient

Many careers in behavior analysis involve counseling and therapy. With BCBA credentials, you’ll often be allowed to practice independently as an applied behavior analyst. You may work with children who have autism or offer therapy for people with various mental health concerns.

An ABA master’s degree may be a worthwhile complement to a career as a special education teacher, a school counselor, a school psychologist, or a clinical social worker. Additional training or licensure would be required for these positions. Having a masters degree might also help you get a job as the head of a social or human services agency.

How Much Do ABA Therapists Make with a Master’s Degree?

ABA Therapists with a couple

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most behavioral and mental health counselors earn between $30,590 and $78,700 annually. Some of the highest salaries are with government organizations. Those roles pay an average salary of $54,070.

The salary of a social and community service manager usually falls anywhere between $42,230 and $115,800. Social and community service managers who work for local government agencies make an average salary of $87,720.

The average salary for managers in religious and civic organizations is $72,860. Some ABA professionals specialize in human resources. HR specialists earn an average of $63,490, and HR managers make an average of $121,220.

What Is the Difference Between a BCaBA vs. BCBA?

To become a BCBA, you must earn a graduate degree and complete hundreds of supervised practice hours. With this credential, you’ll be qualified to practice independently as a behavioral therapist, and you may be able to supervise other behavior analysts.

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BCaBA is the acronym for a Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst. This is an undergraduate-level credential. In addition to bachelors-level classes, BCaBA candidates have to earn supervised fieldwork hours. BCaBAs must practice under the supervision of a BCBA.

Is a Masters in Applied Behavior Analysis Worth It?

therapists in conference

Yes, a masters degree in applied behavior analysis is worth it for many students. Jobs in the community and social service field are projected to grow at a rate of 12% in the next 10 years (Bureau of Labor Statistics), much faster than the average overall job growth.

Common ABA careers in this field include community service manager, special education teacher, behavioral disorder or mental health counselor, rehabilitation counselor, and human resources specialist.

Applied behavior analysts may make a profound difference in the lives of children and adults. Jobs are often available in a variety of settings, such as residential facilities, schools, and therapy offices.

Getting Your Masters in Applied Behavior Analysis Online

Masters in Applied Behavior Analysis Online

Studying applied behavior analysis can help equip you with a set of evidence-based skills for helping people choose healthy, socially acceptable behaviors.

Many applied behavior analysis graduate programs include courses that are required for BCBA certification. Even if certification isn’t in your plans, this degree program may provide critical insight into behavior modification techniques.

Certification should not be confused with earning an applied behavior analysis certificate online or on-campus, which a growing number of universities now offer. Certification is conferred by a professional association, whereas a certificate is conferred by an educational institution.

Studying online may allow you to get your degree without quitting your job or upending your family. Many accredited online colleges offer curricula that align with the Behavior Analyst Certification Board’s requirements. You may want to explore your college options and consider whether applied behavior analysis online programs could be the right fit for you.

If you decide to pursue a doctorate degree, you can also look into PhD in Applied Behavior Analysis online programs that some universities offer.

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Joy is pursuing her Ph.D. in Public Policy & Foreign Policy at Liberty University and holds a Master of Business Administration in Strategic Management from Amberton University, as well as a Bachelor's in Business Administration from Columbia College. With over 20 years of experience navigating online degrees and courses, Joy's focus is helping non-traditional students find accelerated degree options and credit for prior learning opportunities.