What Careers Are Available for ABA Therapists?

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Updated: February 5, 2024, Reading time: 9 minutes

Careers Available for ABA Therapists - featured image

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapists are specialists who apply their scientific knowledge and expertise in the study of human behaviors in order to assist individuals, families, and organizations, among other clients, in enhancing their quality of life. The duties of an ABA therapist vary and offer a wide array of career options and lucrative salaries.

While ABA therapists are often employed in clinical settings like hospitals, clinics, rehabilitation centers, and treatment facilities, they can also apply their expertise in non-clinical environments such as schools and workplaces.

This means that if you’re considering a career in applied behavior analysis, you can be sure that you have a variety of job options available to you with the right education.

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What is ABA?

Before exploring the various careers available for ABA therapists, it’s important to understand the definition and scope of applied behavior analysis.

In essence, the broader psychology field of behavior analysis focuses on understanding the factors that influence behaviors, including how they can be prevented, changed, or trained.

With the subfield of applied behavior analysis, the principles of behavior and learning are then put into use to create solutions for real-life challenges to help individuals, organizations, and society in general.

Some applications of behavior analysis include the following:

By understanding the definition and scope of behavior analysis and its subfield of applied science, you have a clearer picture of the many possible careers available to you.

ABA Therapist Careers in Clinical Environments

ABA Therapist Careers in Clinical Environments - Image

Behavioral Therapist

We’ll first discuss the most obvious one – behavioral therapy. This career is definitely the first one that almost all students have in mind when they enroll in an Applied Behavior Analysis or any degree program related to psychology or counseling.

In essence, behavior therapists are the professionals who work directly with their clients in order to implement the intervention plans needed to modify a maladaptive behavior, develop new skills, enhance learning abilities, improve overall functioning, or whatever the goals of the therapy sessions are.

Behavior Analyst

With this career, you’ll be leveraging your knowledge in behavioral science to design treatment plans for clients who want to stop a maladaptive or undesirable behavior and achieve a more socially acceptable one. You’ll also be working with other behavior analysts in developing an intervention plan to address any behavior that adversely affects daily living.

As a behavior analyst, you may or may not have to work directly with a patient, as the main focus is to diagnose a behavior and develop a treatment plan. Behavior analysts also often collaborate with therapists or other practitioners to oversee the implementation of treatment strategies.

Behavior analysts can find employment in various establishments, including mental health facilities, rehabilitation centers, private practices, schools, and corporate organizations. Behavior analysts in entry-level positions generally work under the supervision of a certified or licensed behavior analyst. If you want to practice independently, however, you’ll need to have a minimum of a Master’s degree education.

You should also consider getting certification from the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) if you want to further your career as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). While the certification may not be required in your state, employers and clients value the organization’s credentials and tend to trust certified professionals more.

Assistant Behavior Analyst

This career is available for behavior analysts who hold a Bachelor’s degree. You may also have to sit for the certification exam to become a Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA) and be qualified to provide behavior-analytic services under the guidance of a certified or licensed behavior analyst.

BCaBAs can supervise Registered Behavior Technicians (RBTs), who are the paraprofessionals directly delivering behavior-analytic services to patients. BCaBAs can also do the work of RBTs.

ABA Clinic Director

These ABA professionals oversee, manage, and lead a team of behavior analysts. They are generally responsible for the overall management and operation of the establishment. Aside from staff management, their roles and responsibilities also include:

ABA Therapist Consultant

If you prefer a career that provides greater flexibility and freedom in your schedule, you may want to consider becoming an ABA therapist consultant who provides per diem services for private practices, clinics, or schools.

By being independent, you have the opportunity to expand your areas of specialization, such as Autism Spectrum Disorder, developmental disabilities, gerontology, and pediatric ABA therapy, among others.


ABA specialists can become researchers in clinical settings who focus on human behavior and effective therapy strategies that reinforce desirable behaviors and curb problematic ones. Their research findings play an essential role in the advancement of behavior analysis and the improvement of existing therapy methodologies.

ABA Therapist Careers in Non-Clinical Environments

ABA Therapist Careers in Non-Clinical Environments - Image

If, for some reason, you’re seeking alternative careers that value your skills and knowledge as an ABA therapist outside of clinical environments, there are several options for you.

Organizational Behavior Management (OBM) Professional

The field of OBM focuses on the assessment and modification of the work environment with the aim of improving workplace culture and employee performance. Specialists in behavior analysis can apply their scientific knowledge of human behavior to analyze corporate settings and devise programs that improve staff morale and productivity.

OBM professionals may be directly employed by the company as part of the human resources department or hired as consultants.

Classroom Behavior Specialist

If you prefer to focus on helping children in a school environment instead of employees in a corporate setting, you can make use of your ABA therapist credential as a behavior specialist in educational institutions.

You will be working closely with special education teachers to assess student behaviors and implement necessary intervention strategies for children with behavior disorders or special needs. You’ll also be discussing the behavior plans with parents.

Special Education Teacher

Instead of becoming a classroom behavior specialist, you may want to interact directly with students to support their behavioral and learning requirements. If you want to transition to become a special education teacher, there are additional academic and certification credentials you will have to obtain. Online doctorate degree programs are available, too.

Parent/Caregiver Trainer

ABA therapists can apply their expertise in developing and implementing comprehensive caregiver training that will equip families, caregivers, and support networks of individuals with autism and related conditions with the strategies and tools they need to understand and effectively manage their loved ones’ behavioral challenges.

Caregiver trainers generally work in schools, community centers, and residential facilities, among other related settings.

School Counselor

The main role of school counselors is to ensure the academic, social, and personal development of students within the educational system.

ABA therapists with the additional required credentials (including state licensure qualifications) can use their knowledge in applied behavior analysis to address students’ struggles in learning, emotional issues, mental health, and other areas affecting their academic development.

School counselors are employed in either educational institutions, whether private or public schools, or in educational agencies such as school districts and nonprofits.

University Professor

If you have a passion for teaching, becoming a university professor specializing in applied behavior analysis or psychology, in general, can be a feasible and rewarding career alternative as long as you have the additional necessary credentials, such as a doctoral degree. 

Sports Performance Coach

ABA therapists, especially those interested in sports, athletics, or fitness, can consider becoming sports performance coaches to work with athletes, sports teams, and other sports coaches. They can apply their knowledge of human behavior in creating training strategies that will boost the athlete’s performance and enhance team dynamics.

Behavioral Economist

The decisions made by people greatly influence the dynamics of the economy. ABA therapists can work with policymakers and economists to understand consumer behavior and create effective economic policies.

Political Behavioral Strategist

ABA therapists can collaborate with politicians or policymakers to apply their knowledge to human behavior and provide valuable insights, such as public perception and voter behaviors. Their scientific knowledge can also assist in creating communication and messaging strategies for a more effective public relations campaign.

Careers Available for ABA Therapists - fact

Bottom Line

Your career options as an expert in Applied Behavior Analysis are not just limited to being a therapist or working in clinical settings. There are many related careers in therapy to consider.

The knowledge you have on the principles of behaviors and your skills in applying these concepts to find solutions to real-world dilemmas are also valuable in a variety of industries and fields, including education, politics, economics, sports, and many others.

Earning the proper degree will help you excel in the field. In addition, you can earn a Doctorate degree to further your career.

We’re certain of one thing—your search for more information on picking the best graduate degree or school landed you here. Let our experts help guide your through the decision making process with thoughtful content written by experts.