By: Jacob Papazian MS, BCBA – Regional Clinical Director, Michigan
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is most commonly associated with intensive intervention for developmental disabilities. A quick search on Indeed.com in the Southeast Michigan area brought up 12 different companies asking for Board Certified Behavior Analysts to work with individuals diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and one lecturer position for a university.
This is not terribly surprising considering that the highest proportion of the Behavior Analytic literature has focused on treating behavior disorders (Leblanc, Heinicke, & Baker, 2012).
What Jobs Can I Get With a Behavior Analysis Degree?
Despite the popularity, there are a variety of career avenues available to Behavior Analysts that have nothing to do with developmental disabilities. In this post we’ll be discussing 7 fantastic jobs that you can get with your behavior analysis degree.
1 – Clinical Behavior Analysis
Behavior Analysts have long been overlooked in the turf war that is psychotherapy. Psychologists, social workers and counselors are trained to shape verbal behavior in sessions to bring about changes with a heavy focus on emotions and internal events. Psychotherapy has evolved with manualized treatment that is behavioral in orientation. If you have the inclination to use self-reporting as a form of data collection and a thirst for Relational Frame Theory (Ruiz, 2018), then Clinical Behavior Analysis may be for you! Most states require a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology or a similar terminal degree to perform and be reimbursed for psychotherapeutic services. However, several states allow Masters level clinicians to practice under the supervision of a Ph.D. Potential placements can include hospitals, schools, and private practices. Literature has been published in a variety of areas including personality disorders, depression/anxiety, psychosis spectrum, and obsessive compulsive disorders (formally under the umbrella of anxiety disorders).
2 – Clinical Research and Education
Are you a super nerd that has a passion for teaching?
Are you always reading the newest journal articles or dreaming of the next big research project for your clinical team?
If that is the case then you should consider a clinical research and teaching position with a local university. Many universities are offering coursework online and seek out Master’s level instructors. The advantage of having lecturers in their programs are twofold: they are typically less expensive than the core faculty and offer students an opportunity to learn from clinicians that are actively practicing. Research requirements are typically less intensive but offer resources most clinics do not have available.
3 – Comparative Animal Behavior
If you, like me, are a Disney fanatic and love animals, then there is the perfect job for you with the mouse! The Walt Disney Company hires Behavior Analysts that have experience with animal behavior. When new animals are introduced to the safari, they are taught to return to their night enclosures using conditional discrimination. Recreation specialists use phylogenically appropriate activities to keep the animals entertained and healthy. Most importantly, animal training occurs regularly for the wildlife shows throughout the parks to promote a message of conservation.
4 – Organizational Behavior Management
If working with neurotypical individuals is more your style, working in Organizational Behavior Management (OBM) might be a good fit for you. OBM practitioners typically work as independent contractors for companies to improve some aspect of performance through a variety of activities including functional assessments, interviews, and corporate trainings. Human Resources staff and recruiting also find that Behavior Analysts are great fits based on their understanding of motivation. Does helping the Olive Garden reduce food waste or increasing the average sale for a local pet supplies store sound interesting? How about helping managers become effective leaders? If so, OBM is a great option.
5 – Environmental Preservation
If the idea of protecting the planet is important to you then working in Environmental Preservation might be a good idea. Eco-friendly companies are always looking for specialists to not only market their products but to entice consumers to actually use them. Other organizations have been using Behavior Analysts in more traditional retail environments to increase use of biodegradable products. For example, researchers have recently been using extra stimulus prompts to reduce single-use plastics in restaurants with moderate success. For those that are interested in working in environmental policy this is a must consider.
6 – Theme/Amusement Park Safety and Security
Have you ever noticed that in theme and amusement parks, you feel relatively safe? So safe that you spend money on merchandise and food that you would normally never buy? There is an entire science behind keeping guests immersed and feeling safe to maximize spending. Behavior Analysts can provide valuable insight into the motivating operations to engage in target behaviors while in theme parks such as buying merchandise/food products and helping improve traffic flow to improve safety. Those that buy annual passes to their favorite attractions should look into these types of opportunities for free park admission and a paycheck!
7 – Health and Fitness
If you have been watching reality television shows lately, you may have noticed a small uptick in the realm of “life coaching.” Individuals are claiming to be “coaches” to improve quality of life. In most cases their goals center on health, fitness, and wellness. However, most of these individuals are not certified or licensed to be doing such work. Behavior Analysts are a logical fit to help consumers increase the frequency of engaging in healthy behaviors such as increasing cardiovascular exercise and reducing consumption of processed foods. Literature demonstrating the efficacy of basic behavior modification techniques to aid in weight loss is abundant. This specialization does warrants collaboration with other professionals such as dieticians, medical doctors and sports psychologists to ensure that clients are healthy enough for the activities and that they have an adequate caloric intake (Martin, 2015).
Regardless of the path that you take as a career, it is important to remember our ethical guidelines. As Behavior Analysts we stay within our competency. If you are interested in gaining more experience in an area, find a supervisor that can oversee your work and provide you additional support when needed.
What if I Like Developmental Disabilities?
If you have read up to this point and still are thinking “but I like what I do. I like working with Autism” then you are not alone. Working with ASD/DD is a lucrative option that has such a significant impact on the lives of those with which you work. As awareness increases, so do the opportunities for BCBAs ranging from direct care to clinical leadership. Attentive Behavior Care is one such organization that offers positions from technician to executive clinical leadership stressing clinical excellence.
Are you interested in joining the Attentive Behavior Care team? Apply today!
- LeBlanc L. A., Heinicke M. R., Baker J. C. (2012). Expanding the consumer base for behavior-analytic services: meeting the needs of consumers in the 21st century. Behavior Analysis in Practice, 5, 4-14.
- Martin, J. (2015). Behavior analysis sport and exercise psychology. Behavior Analysis: Research and Practice, 15(2), 148-151.
- Ruiz, F. (2018). A multiple-baseline evaluation of a brief acceptance and commitment therapy protocol focused on repetitive negative thinking for moderate emotional disorders. Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science, 9, 1-14.