How Can I Make a Positive Impact with an ABA Master’s?
For those who want to dedicate their careers to making a positive difference in the world, the field of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) has become increasingly popular. ABA is a scientific approach to understanding and changing human behavior, and is commonly used to improve the lives of individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), developmental disabilities, behavioral disorders, and mental health issues.
If you are passionate about making a positive impact in the world, you may be wondering how to apply your knowledge, skills, and passion to affect real change. We will explore various ways in which you can make a positive impact with an ABA Master's degree, from working with individuals directly to advocating for policy change.
Whether you are just starting out in your career or seeking a new career opportunity, there are many ways to make a difference in the world with a behavior analysis degree.
What is ABA?
ABA, or Applied Behavior Analysis, is a form of therapy that focuses on positive reinforcement and behavior modification to help individuals reach their fullest potential. It is an evidence-based practice that focuses on the principles of operant conditioning and uses strategies such as prompting, reinforcement, modeling, and shaping to achieve desired behaviors.
ABA can be used in a variety of settings, including homes, schools, residential facilities, mental health centers, and other community environments. The goal of ABA is to increase desirable behaviors while simultaneously reducing or eliminating undesirable ones. It has been proven successful in improving communication, social skills, academic performance, self-care abilities, and overall quality of life for those with autism spectrum disorder or other behavioral or intellectual disabilities.
Who Can Provide ABA Therapy?
ABA therapy is provided by professionals who have received specialized training and certification in Applied Behavior Analysis. These may include Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs), Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analysts (BCaBAs), and Registered Behavior Technicians (RBTs).
Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA)
A Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) is a professional who has met the certification requirements established by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB). The BCBA certification is the highest level of certification in the field of behavior analysis.
To become a BCBA, a person must complete a graduate degree in behavior analysis or a related field, such as education or psychology, that includes coursework in behavior analysis. They must also complete a specified number of supervised experience hours and pass the BCBA certification exam.
BCBAs are trained to apply the principles of behavior analysis to a variety of settings and populations. They conduct assessments, develop treatment plans, and supervise the implementation of interventions designed to improve behavior and social skills. They may work in a variety of settings, such as schools, clinics, and hospitals, and collaborate with other professionals, including teachers, doctors, and therapists, to provide comprehensive care to individuals receiving ABA services.
Behavior Analyst Certification Board
A Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA) is a professional who has met the certification requirements established by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) to provide behavior analysis services under the supervision of a BCBA or a licensed professional authorized to provide behavior analysis services.
Like BCBAs, BCaBAs are trained to apply the principles of behavior analysis to a variety of settings and populations, including individuals with autism spectrum disorder, developmental disabilities, and mental health issues. They work under the supervision of a BCBA or other licensed professional authorized to provide behavior analysis services and may conduct assessments, develop treatment plans, and supervise the implementation of interventions designed to improve behavior and social skills.
Registered Behavior Technician (RBT)
A Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) is a paraprofessional who works under the supervision of BCBA or a BCaBA to implement behavior plans designed to improve behavior and social skills of individuals receiving ABA services.
To become an RBT, a person must meet eligibility requirements established by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB), which includes completing a 40-hour training program focused on the principles of ABA and passing a competency assessment. They must also complete ongoing supervision from a BCBA or BCaBA and renew their certification every year.
RBTs are trained to provide direct care to individuals receiving ABA services, including conducting behavior observations, collecting data, and implementing behavior plans designed by the supervising BCBA or BCaBA.
What Can You Do With a Degree in Applied Behavior Analysis?
A degree in Applied Behavior Analysis can open the door to a wide range of opportunities. With an advanced ABA degree, you can work as a behavior analyst, developing strategies to modify and improve learning in individuals and creating intervention plans. Or you might choose to apply your knowledge to research or educational settings. Those with an ABA Master's degree can also choose to teach and supervise others or work in public policy and advocacy.
Work With Individuals With Autism Spectrum Disorder
ABA professionals such as BCBAs, BCaBAs, and RBTs have a deep understanding of autism spectrum disorder and work with adults and children with autism to create an individualized plan of treatment that meets their specific needs. This plan is tailored to help the individual reach their goals and maximize their potential. Professionals use a variety of strategies such as prompting, reinforcement, modeling, and shaping to increase desirable behaviors while simultaneously reducing or eliminating undesirable ones.
ABA can help improve communication skills, social skills, academic performance, self-care abilities, and the overall lives of children and adults with autism spectrum disorder. Working alongside other professionals, such as speech therapists and occupational therapists, allows for a complete plan of treatment that can help produce meaningful change in the lives of those affected by ASD.
ABA professionals use data-driven decisions to determine which strategies should be implemented, such as prompting, reinforcement, modeling, and shaping. This data-driven approach allows for changes to be made based on measurable outcomes, ensuring that the treatment plan is effective and meaningful. With this approach, ABA professionals can create a comprehensive care plan to maximize an individual's potential by focusing on their specific needs.
Advocate for Policy Change
Some behavior analytic professionals dedicate their careers to advocating for policy changes and creating ethical standards to ensure that individuals with autism spectrum disorder are able to access effective treatments. ABA professionals are responsible for many of the most significant advances in autism treatment and special education policy. They also work with policymakers at all levels of government to ensure that there is adequate funding for research and treatment programs, as well as advocating for policies that will make it easier for those affected by ASD to access the services they need. Through advocacy efforts, ABA professionals can help create a society where individuals with ASD have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else.
ABA researchers conduct studies to investigate the principles and applications of behavior analysis in various settings and populations. ABA researchers use a scientific approach to evaluate the effectiveness of interventions and treatments designed to modify behavior, improve social skills, and enhance the quality of life of individuals receiving the therapy. ABA researchers may work in academic institutions, research centers, government agencies, or private organizations.
The goal of ABA research is to advance our understanding of human behavior and behavior change procedures and then provide evidence-based interventions and treatments that improve the lives of individuals with behavioral or developmental challenges. ABA researchers play a critical role in advancing the field of behavior analysis and contributing to the development of effective interventions and treatments for individuals in need.
Teach and Train Other ABA Therapists
One of the roles of BCBAs is to supervise and train other ABA therapists, including RBTs and BCaBAs. BCBAs are responsible for designing behavior plans, supervising clinical experience and fieldwork hours, and providing feedback and training to RBTs and BCaBAs.
A person with an ABA Master's degree can also pursue a career as a trainer or consultant in the field of behavior analysis, providing training and consultation services to organizations, schools, and clinics that provide ABA services. They can develop training programs, provide training workshops, and offer consultation services to help organizations implement effective behavior interventions and improve outcomes for individuals receiving ABA services.
Pursue Your Passion With an MS in Applied Behavior Analysis at Pepperdine University
The Applied Behavior Analysis graduate program at Pepperdine University offers students the opportunity to pursue their passion to make a difference in the world while also building a rewarding career. The program combines advanced coursework with real-world experience that trains professionals to assess and change behavior through the principles of learning theory.
In small class sizes with a 12:1 student-to-faculty ratio, graduate students will gain a deeper understanding of theoretical concepts, foundational aspects of applied behavior analysis, in-depth explorations of ethical conduct, behavioral assessment and treatment, human development, multicultural considerations, and more. The degree program will prepare students to become board-certified behavior analysts.
For more information on our application process, coursework requirements, and scholarship information, attend one of our upcoming information sessions or submit your application to the MS in Applied Behavior Analysis program today!