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Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA): An Exciting and Fast-Growing Mental Health Career

July 01, 2020
Five years old boy drawing at the psychotherapy session.

Considering a career in mental health? Getting started can be both exciting and a little daunting. It is exciting because of the new experience, knowledge, and career prospects you hope to gain. Yet it can be daunting because of the wide array of programs and types of mental health careers that are out there. Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a relatively new and rapidly growing mental health career that you might consider. 

What do Behavior Therapists Do? 

Behavior Therapists (also referred to as Board Certified Behavior Analysts or BCBA’s) work in clinical settings to provide clients with the appropriate skills they need to successfully navigate their worlds. Specifically, Behavior Therapists investigate the relationships between a person’s behavior and their environment in order to design interventions that produce this meaningful change and improve their clients’ lives. While ABA is often seen as an approach to support people with autism, Behavior Therapists actually work with many different populations helping to teach and improve a wide variety of behaviors including social skills and communication, feeding and hygiene, and smoking cessation. 

An In-Demand Career 

ABA is a rapidly growing field, with demand for BCBAs increasing by 3,571% since 2010 and by 127% from 2017 to 2018 alone (bacb.com, 2020). Just in the state of Pennsylvania in 2019, there were 795 job postings that required applicants to have an ABA certification (bacb.com, 2020). According to Payscale.com, the average salary for BCBAs is $64,000

Why such growth? In a word, flexibility. Behavior Analysts practice in a wide range of settings, from traditional clinical mental health agencies to schools, hospitals, and businesses. Within these organizations, Behavior Analysts work in a variety of capacities. For example, BCBAs can work with athletes to improve sports performance, people with autism to help them develop healthier behaviors, mothers and babies learning to breast feed, and even CEOs trying to increase the performance of their employees in a business. If you are looking for an in-demand mental health career path, ABA could be for you. 

Getting Started in Applied Behavior Analysis 

Your first step in becoming a Behavior Analyst will be to begin a verified course sequence in a graduate program like the new Applied Behavior Analysis, M.Ed. program offered by York College of Pennsylvania. This program is designed from the ground up to provide you with the knowledge and experience needed to be successful in this rapidly growing mental health career. The ABA coursework at YCP examines ABA from a broad perspective, which will give you the confidence to explore many different career paths. In addition, YCP’s partnerships with practicing BCBAs in South Central Pennsylvania will provide you with invaluable learning experiences and connections to professionals in the field. Upon graduating, you will have the choice to work with a variety of populations and ages focusing on countless skills and behaviors in many different settings, and you will have the skills needed to be successful in whatever career path you choose. 

Let YCP help you be excited and confident as you embark on your graduate degree and new career path. Take your first steps toward becoming a BCBA – get more information about YCP’s Graduate ABA Program and begin your application today.