Applied Behavior Analysis is a psychology subspecialty that focuses on modifying or changing the behavior of people within certain populations, such as people with autism. ABA encompasses the design, implementation and evaluation of environmental modifications to change unwanted behavior.
What Does an Applied Behaviorist Do?
An applied behavior analysis degree trains you to help people with psychological, behavioral or cognitive challenges develop scholastic, adaptive or social skills. Applied behaviorists have found that environment can play a significant role in behavior and that modifying surroundings to optimize growth potential is beneficial to both the patient and their families.
As an applied behaviorists you will study the interaction between behavior and environment. You’ll also measure factors like punishment, reinforcement and how they impact a patient’s behavior. Frequently you’ll be working with children who have autism or other developmental disabilities. Patience, understanding and the ability to implement practical solutions based on your observations are essential.
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Careers in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)
Applied behavior analysis professionals must be highly experienced in what they do. There is high demand for the board-certified Ph.D candidate, especially as modern science is able to better detect and diagnose autism and other related psychological conditions.
Many board certified behavioral analysts can make $75 per hour or more with annual salaries depending on the amount of hours worked. Since most individuals in the field are quite passionate about what they do, many work longer hours than the standard 40-hour week that most 9-to-5 jobs require. It really is more than a career… it’s a calling.
Obtaining an Applied Behavior Analysis Degree
Attaining a Ph.D or the doctoral equivalent of a Ph.D for your applied behavior analysis degree is a must. Each state also has their own licensing and board-certification requirements. Classes will involve learning how to perform functional behavior assessments, creating behavior plans and teaching the patients new and important life skills.