ABA therapy jobs: 8 different roles to consider

May 12, 2022

Applied Behavior Analysis (or ABA) therapy jobs use an analytical approach to help children with autism learn positive behaviors and skills. However, certified therapists are not limited to a single job position. Here are eight fields where ABA certification can land a fulfilling and rewarding career:

1. Behavior analyst

Behavior Analysts promote behavior and skill development for children with autism. Working closely with children on the spectrum, they attempt to find the correlation between a child’s conduct and the surrounding environment. Their primary focus is using positive reinforcement to promote positive behavioral changes.

Behavior analysts evaluate a child's performance by conducting assessments, developing behavior intervention plans, monitoring progress, and continuously evaluating the effectiveness of their work. They partner with children either through one-on-one or group settings, usually ensuring that families take a vital role in participating in the child’s growth and care. They aim to promote socially significant behavior changes among children with autism and work toward assisting them in living independent lives.

What is required to become a behavior analyst?

To meet qualifications for a behavior analyst position, the candidate must:

  • Hold a Master’s degree in behavior analysis or a related field
  • Have completed supervised fieldwork hours
  • Successfully pass the national board certification exam
  • Possess the required state license, if applicable

2. Special education teacher

Special education teachers educate children with a range of developmental and learning disabilities. An extremely important career, teachers are trained professionals that are well equipped to work with children with autism. Special education teachers have a huge influence on a child’s life and are often driven toward meeting the developmental, learning, physical, and emotional challenges of children with autism to stimulate growth and a better quality of life. 

A typical day in the life of a special education teacher revolves around working with either a single child or a group of children, helping them overcome challenges and prepare for the future. They teach students specific academic lessons to educate them on basic skills such as literacy and communication. 

What is required to become a special education teacher?

The special education teacher position requires the following qualifications:

  • A bachelor's degree in special education (a master's or doctoral degree is preferable)
  • A state-affiliated license for teaching in public and private schools
  • Comprehensive knowledge and awareness on the topic of disabilities
  • The ability to acquire and prepare teaching materials and resources for accommodating student’s educational needs

3. School social worker

Social workers in schools are responsible for providing social assistance to students with disabilities and communicating with their families during difficult situations. Having a wide range of responsibilities, social workers assist children on the spectrum, improving their mental wellbeing and social functioning while coordinating with special education teachers and other providers. 

They also provide support to the child's family. While helping children in social, community, and professional interactions, they may also work alongside other providers such as speech-language pathologists, therapists, and psychologists.

What is required to become a school social worker?

To become a school social worker, a candidate should meet the following qualifications:

  • A bachelor's degree in social work (although some employers require a master’s degree)
  • Supervised experience and certifications

4. Occupational therapist

Working with a wide variety of people including children with autism, occupational therapists are professionals with a focus on improving specific skills needed for day to day life activities. Their job is to observe and evaluate how a child interacts with his/her daily environment. 

Occupational therapists help to promote life skills for individuals with behavioral and developmental disorders using their specialization in social, emotional, and physiological assistance. They teach children to engage in important life skills such as eating, drinking, writing, or using the toilet. Supporting children in living independent lives, they play a positive role in shaping and improving young lives. 

What is required to become an occupational therapist?

Occupational therapist positions require the following qualifications:

  • A college degree
  • Successful completion of the national board examination
  • A state-affiliated license for practicing therapy

5. Autism spectrum disorder specialist

With similar roles to a behavior analyst, autism spectrum disorder specialists coordinate everyday tasks, set academic goals, and improve social behaviors. These professionals also participate in interdisciplinary teams, offer consultation services, and lead professional development efforts. 

Various organizations that specialize in the care of children with autism such as school districts, government-funded developmental disabilities programs, and disability-focused schools or educational institutions often hire autism spectrum disorder specialists to act as therapists to aid classrooms and promote positive reinforcement. Additionally, they provide comprehensive care for children on the spectrum by increasing awareness.

What is required to acquire an autism spectrum disorder specialist position?

Any candidate for this position should meet the following qualifications:

  • A bachelor’s degree or greater in special education
  • Specialized knowledge and experience in autism spectrum disorder

6. Speech-language pathologist

Speech-language pathologists or practitioners play a key role in providing learning and development services for children with autism. They design alternative methods for communication when traditional forms aren’t benefiting the child. SLPs work with prevention, assessment, diagnosis, and virtually all aspects of care. This includes providing services for speech, language, social communication, cognitive communication, and swallowing disorders for both children and adults. 

While developing plans to enhance social and communication skills for children on the spectrum, they offer augmentative and alternative communication methods which include sign language, Picture Exchange Communication Systems (PECS), or Speech Generating Devices (SGDs).  They often work independently or through affiliation with a doctor’s office or school.

What is required to become a speech-language pathologist?

For this field, an interested professional must:

  • Hold a master’s degree in speech-language pathology
  • Successfully pass the appropriate Praxis examination
  • Possess a state-affiliated license for practicing therapy

7. Developmental psychologist

Like the other psychology professionals, a developmental psychologist works in clinics, hospitals, or schools and evaluates children on the spectrum. They suggest and provide treatments, therapies, interventions, and coping mechanisms for children with autism and discuss them with parents, teachers, and doctors. Their day-to-day activities are associated with addressing depression, social anxiety, repetitive behavior, and relationship management.

What is necessary to become a developmental psychologist?

To become a developmental psychologist, the following are required:

  • A master's or doctoral degree in developmental psychology
  • Completion of supervised clinical practice
  • Certification in the chosen line of area of practice

8. Rehabilitation therapist

Rehabilitation therapists work in various sectors such as rehab centers, schools, universities, community programs, or government agencies that assist children with autism. After a thorough assessment, they find ways to help the child understand, develop, and maintain boundaries during family and social situations.

What is required to be a rehabilitation therapist?

Candidates for this position should acquire:

  • A master’s degree in a field related to intellectual or communication disorders
  • Professional and state certification

Conclusion

Considered to be the gold standard for treating autism spectrum disorder, the goal of ABA therapy is to improve life for children on the spectrum by assisting with social skills, conduct, and communication with a focus on reinforcing positive behavior and decreasing behaviors that can affect learning.

Songbird Therapy is a technology-enabled provider setting a higher standard for children’s autism care. With a deeply passionate team and innovative technology, we’re building a world where every child can access world-class care at home, uniquely tailored to them.

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