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Learning Center Experience
By Kerri Milyko, PhD, BCBA-D
Many professionals in applied behavior analysis (ABA) provide services to individuals with autism, as the use of ABA methods is widely recognized as an effective method of treating behavior disorders (most specifically children with autism).
Yet, there are so many other areas of behavior analysis that fly under the radar because insurance companies do not fund them. These include ABA in education, ABA in organizations (business and schools), as well as combining other specializations with ABA.
One potential post-master's job for a Board Certified Behavior Analyst ® (BCBA)*, is serving as an independent consultant for a large corporation providing services to children with autism. BCBAs may supervise registered behavior technicians (RBT) or direct-care therapists, deliver "in-chair" services to individuals with autism, and engage in some staff training.
The great thing about working for these large agencies is that it can offer the flexibility about which cases to take, and are able to set one's own hours.
Another feature to this job is that BCBAs are likely driving to client's homes. Larger autism agencies rarely have a center-based program and, if so, they likely still have clients they serve in the home. So, BCBAs may find themselves driving to a new spot multiple times a day conducting supervision. This can be great for those who are not keen on the whole "office" type job.
Now, there are some jobs that are beyond the scope of typical ABA master's degree programs that require addition training or education. The area of Precision Teaching (PT), for example, applies ABA techniques to education. Precision teachers utilize the Standard Celeration Chart. Since very few graduate programs spend a lot of time focusing on PT, individuals in this role will likely spend the first 3 months in training (yes, it takes that long to become fluent at these skills for all learners).
Another field of ABA is Organizational Behavior Management (OBM). This area of ABA applies its principles and techniques to business organizations. Like PT, not many master's-level ABA programs can provide adequate training for graduates to jump right into a job without extensive training. Therefore, individuals in these roles may pursue extensive training (similar in length to PT) or have to continue to obtain a PhD that provides training in OBM.
Other ABA jobs that are popping up more often are school-district BCBAs. In this salaried position, BCBAs work for the school district, which is quite a demanding job. Typically, school districts need more than one BCBA (or a school really needs more than one BCBA), but that is not always the case. Therefore, these BCBAs have a really big workload and are driving to various schools within the district to work with students with problem behavior. Some responsibilities may include:
BCBAs may also likely participate in writing the IEPs with the special-education director.
Unfortunately, the field of education has yet to notice that BCBAs can participate in the acquisition of academic behaviors (see Precision Teaching), and do not typically invite BCBAs to design interventions for academically deficient students (e.g., response to intervention).
One thing to also consider is that a BCBA certification can be a fantastic and valuable addition to a degree in a separate, yet related field, such as:
In all of these positions, there can be opportunity for personal growth within the field. As with roles in other fields, the experience acquires can help professionals rise to levels of supervision, training, and directorship. Sometimes, one may have to start at a less-than preferred position and work up to a dream career. Best of luck to those pursuing a rewarding career in behavior analysis!
* To become certified, students will need to obtain the necessary number of hours of field experience under an appropriate supervisor, as required by the BACB, meet additional degree and practicum requirements, and must also pass the comprehensive exam. The BACB preapproves university training as meeting its eligibility requirements; it does not accredit university programs. Although certain programs at Kaplan University are designed to prepare students to take various certification or licensing exams, the University cannot guarantee the student will pass those exams. In some cases, field experience, additional coursework, and/or background checks may be necessary to take or to successfully pass the exams. Students should research the requirements in the state in which they intend to seek employment.
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