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Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Career Opportunities

Drexel University School of Education

Applied behavior analysis requires graduates to combine analysis and practice into one cohesive skill set. Bringing together theory and practice, a master’s degree in applied behavior analysis or an ABA certificate opens the door to a variety of career opportunities. And since there are so many different fields you can enter with a degree in ABA, there is an equally wide range of earnings potential.

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Career Paths and Salaries

What can you do with a degree in ABA? Careers in applied behavior analysis include a number of different paths. Among them, you’ll find opportunities inside educational environments, hospitals, private and non-profit organizations, and residential treatment settings.

Interested in learning about more ABA careers? Take a moment to request more information about the programs in the School of Education.

Behavior Analyst

When you think of careers in the ABA field, behavior analysts may be top of mind. These professionals leverage learned skills to provide treatment for individuals with behavioral and/or intellectual disabilities and work with others to develop a plan to address the behaviors that impact their daily living.

A behavior analyst can find employment within a number of institutions, including a counseling practice or in a school setting. In addition to hard skills acquired through a formal degree program, a behavior analyst requires a variety of soft skills, including patience and compassion when dealing with people who live with intellectual and emotional disabilities. They must also be organized and methodical in developing a treatment plan and conveying to family members, teachers, and others the ways they can help their child or student to set them up for success.

According to PayScale, a behavior analyst earns a median salary of $59,000. Those starting out with a new Master’s degree can expect a salary of around $55,000 or higher, while those at a more advanced degree can expect $78,000.

Behavior Analyst Consultant

In a consultant-level position, these types of behavior analysts require the same level of expertise as a full-time behavior analyst but have the freedom and flexibility of per diem work. This opens the door for them to new opportunities and can develop different areas of specialization instead of focusing on just one area, such as working with both autistic children and adults, working with individuals with other developmental disabilities, caring for people with mental health disorders and more.

As consultant, those with a background in behavioral analysis can find work in a school setting, clinical setting, or with a private practice.

Since a consultant may work at a per diem hourly rate, there is no set annual wage they can expect as you can be flexible with how much or how little you work, depending on the terms of a contract negotiated. Consultants can expect to earn between $34 to $55 per hour, depending upon their geographic region and level of skill.

Clinical Director

A clinical director oversees a team of other clinicians and behavior analysts and can work in a variety of settings. The role of a clinical director is to lead their teams by developing and supervising programs for those with developmental disabilities and/or mental health disorders. They help provide their team with training and mentoring in new methodologies to help make a positive impact in the lives of those with behavioral challenges.

The average median salary for a Clinical Director focused on behavior analysis is $76,000, but can range between $51,000 to $120,000+, according to PayScale.

Special Education Teachers

Different children have different educational needs. Special education teachers work with students who have a range of different disabilities, including sensory and physical disabilities. As one of the most common ABA teaching jobs, special education teachers work to adapt general education lessons to make them more approachable to students with nontraditional needs. Additional training and certification in special education is required.

According to PayScale, Special Education Teachers earn an average salary that ranges between $40,000 and $55,000, depending on location and years of experience.

Wellness Coach

A wellness coach is someone who helps clients to identify their unique skills, focus on their goals, and overcome the obstacles to achieving their dreams. Understanding how to best influence behaviors, a wellness coach can help a person to make better choices that are more appropriate to their unique lifestyle.

The goal could be finding a better work-life balance, maintaining a better diet, or even quitting smoking. Which makes wellness coaches one of the most versatile applied behavior analysis career options. According to PayScale, a wellness coach earn an average salary that ranges between $39,000 and $58,000, largely depending on years of experience.

Nonprofit Opportunities

People who pursue careers in applied behavior analysis are often interested in helping others. Among the many types of ABA careers, working in a non-profit setting is often the best fit for someone looking to make a difference.

Nonprofit organizations thrive on diverse skills from a wide range of different backgrounds. With a degree in ABA, you could help prepare a program to prevent children from smoking, work in diet interventions for at-risk populations, or any number of similar projects.

According to PayScale, a non-profit program coordinator earns an average salary that ranges between $38,000 and $46,000, while a non-profit program manager earns between $44,000 and $55,000.

School Psychologist

School psychologists can have either a Master’s or Doctorate degree to perform their duties. Certain states may also require additional certification. These professionals work within an individual school or an entire district to help students who may be struggling with a variety of mental, social, and/or emotional disorders that may be affecting their schoolwork, as well as their lives.

They conduct psychological evaluations of students, apply their knowledge of expected behaviors to anticipate a students’ response, and based on this knowledge, work with others to create an individualized educational program (IEP) for these students. In addition to working with students and their parents to provide individualized services, school psychologists are also available to the student body at large to provide grief counseling or emergency counseling in the event of a sudden major event in the lives of students. Additional training and certification outside of the ABA program will be needed to pursue this career path.

According to Payscale, school psychologists earn a median salary of $61,000. The salary for this particular position can range between $43,000 and $90,000 depending on the stage of each professional’s career and/or geographic region.

Social Worker

A social worker can impact a variety of lives within a given community with their skillset. Social workers can be found working with children or adults who are dealing with specific circumstances, ranging from illness, special needs, or major lifestyle changes -- such as a diagnosis, loss of a job, loss of family, or even divorce.

Social workers meet with individuals to determine what resources these people may need in order to overcome challenges, receive care, and improve their circumstances. They are knowledgeable about community resources that can help and will work with each person to get them access to healthcare, government assistance, and more to help them overcome their challenges.

In addition to a formal degree, training and certification outside of a traditional ABA program, social workers require soft skills such as organizational skills -- maintain meticulous records and case files for each of their clients -- as well as a working knowledge of resources (at the local, state, and national levels) available based on their expert evaluation of a client’s situation.

A social worker earns a median salary of $46,000, although that salary can range between $32,000 and $66,000, depending on a number of factors, including the stage of their career, geographic location, and area of specialization.