What is a Behavior Analyst?

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Behavior Analyst
Behavior Analyst

A behavior analyst helps pinpoint the cause of behaviors which are either not occurring enough or which are occurring too often. Examples of behaviors which may raise concern if they do not occur often enough may include completing assignments and paying attention to a teacher. Examples of behaviors which may raise concern if they occur too often may include calling out of turn, being out of the seat, and verbal or physical aggression towards other students. The behavior analyst can help determine if there is a skill that needs to be taught, something about the environment which needs to be altered, or a reward/consequence system which needs to be implemented.

Who are the typical clients which a behavior analyst works with?

A behavior analyst can work with a wide variety of clients, from autistic or developmentally delayed youngsters to students with ADHD. School districts may directly employ a behavior analyst to intervene with their students who have behavioral issues. Parents of autistic children may also pay a behavior analyst per session for help with intervening with their children on decreasing unwanted behaviors or increasing wanted behaviors, such as prosocial behaviors. Insurances companies will typically reimburse only if the client has a diagnosis of autism and if the provider is either a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) or Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCABA).

What is a BCBA or BCABA?

The BCBA or BCABA are credentials which are issued by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board. The credentials recognize the completion of the required courses, passing an examination, and accumulating the necessary hours of supervised experience. Additionally, the BCBA applicant needs to have a master degree while the BCABA applicant needs to have a bachelors degree. A BCABA is supposed to work only under the supervision of a BCBA. For more information about the requirements in order to become a BCBA or BCABA, please see http://www.bacb.com/index.php?page=53.

Is the BCBA a stand-alone credential?

Some BCBA practices exclusively as behavior analysts, while other BCBA holders are also school psychologists or hold other professional credentials. School psychologists are often called upon to intervene with students presenting with behavioral difficulties, and school district often prefers candidates with a BCBA.

What are the average salaries for BCBA and BCABA holders?

According to the Association of Professional Behavior Analyst’s 2009 survey, about a quarter of BCBA earned salaries in the 40,000 to 60,000 range; about a quarter was in the 60 to 80,000 and another quarter were above the 80,000 range, with the distribution tilted towards the upper end. By contrast, almost a third of BCABA’s earned salaries of $40,000 or less. Please see http://www.apbahome.net/survey-report-johnston.pdf for more details.