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What Is an ABA Therapist and How to Become One

ABA Therapist

What Is an ABA Therapist?

An applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapist is a therapy professional who works with children with developmental issues. Many of the patients have a diagnosis on the autism spectrum. As an ABA therapist, your responsibilities and duties include working under the supervision of a licensed behavioral analyst to conduct specific therapies in a one-on-one setting. These techniques meet ABA protocols and aim to improve speech, behavior, and physical abilities. You also record data regarding each session to track progress and develop future therapies for the patient. ABA is sometimes used with adults as well.

How to Become an ABA Therapist

To become an applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapist, you need a high school diploma or equivalent. Though some jobs require a bachelor’s degree in psychology or a related field, some ABA therapist positions only require an associate degree and, possibly, certification by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board. In these degree programs, you study the basics of behavior analysis and child development to gain the skills and qualifications you need to successfully complete your responsibilities in this career.

Where Do ABA Therapists Work?

Applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapists conduct therapy sessions in a variety of settings, including the patient’s home, school, or a public location when a new skill is being learned that is place specific. ABA therapists can also work in clinical settings, such as therapy centers alongside many other types of therapists. Some ABA therapists work in residential facilities for children with profound challenges, while others may work for school districts, consulting and providing services and interventions for students.

What Is ABA Therapy?

Applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy is a decades-old, objective, therapeutic intervention philosophy based on observing, quantifying, and changing behaviors. ABA therapy can be applied to help those on the autism spectrum learn new skills, reduce self-harm and other counterproductive behaviors, increase social interaction, develop speech and self-care abilities, and improve academics. Therapy is conducted with one individual at a time and is tailored to the goals and objectives desired for that particular patient. For example, complex phrases or tasks may be broken down into smaller projects that are taught over time to cumulatively meet the goal.

How to Be a Good ABA Therapist

A good applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapist has the right blend of academic knowledge, practical experience, and patience to succeed in this career. To become a good ABA therapist, study the intricacies of ABA therapy and gain a full understanding of how it was developed and why it works. Ask questions and learn continually from your supervisors so you can improve your skills and insight of these interventions. Lastly, be patient and persistent—even small victories take time, but they have a big impact on your patients and their families.

ABA Therapist Job Description Sample

With this ABA Therapist job description sample, you can get a good idea of what employers are looking for when hiring for this position. Remember, every employer is different and each will have unique qualifications when they hire for a ABA Therapist role.

Job Summary

Our organization is seeking an ABA Therapist to join our care team. In this role, you will work alongside our program supervisor, board-certified behavior analysts, and speech therapists. We work primarily with children on the autism spectrum, so any experience you have with autistic kids or adults is a major plus. This job is a great opportunity to help children develop appropriate social behaviors and life skills. Whether you are providing this support at the center, a school, or a child's home, it is essential to display patience and empathy. Applicants should have a bachelor's degree in psychology or social work and be willing to become certified as an RBT. You must also pass a pre-employment background check and verify that you are up-to-date on your vaccinations.

Duties and Responsibilities

  • Help implement treatment plans under the supervision of board-certified behavior analysts
  • Assist younger clients as they learn appropriate social behaviors and basic life skills
  • Provide home-based, school-based, and clinic-based support
  • Maintain detailed records of improvements or issues
  • Provide support or advice to the family members of our clients
  • Assist with administrative tasks as necessary

Requirements and Qualifications

  • High school diploma or GED certificate
  • Bachelor's degree in psychology, social work, or a related field (preferred)
  • RBT certification (or willingness to become certified)
  • Experience working with kids a plus, preferably those with autism or special needs
  • BLS certification a plus
  • Up-to-date immunizations, including TB
  • Valid driver's license and reliable transportation
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills