Most behaviour analysts and applied behaviour analysts earn undergraduate degrees—usually in psychology, clinical psychology or a related field—and then do postgraduate work through certificate programs or earn advanced degrees. Most states require behaviour analysts to be board certified (by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board, or BACB) and some states also require formal licensing. Most behaviour analysts practice as ABAs, or applied behaviour analysts. The other branch of behaviour analysis is experimental behaviour analysis (EBA, often referred to simply as behaviour analysis), which is the research arm of the field and provides the scientific foundation on which ABA base their work.
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Behaviour analysts—or experimental behaviour analysts—not directly involved in therapy often work in research centres, think tanks, non-profit organisations and academic settings. They analyse findings and data, and produce reports, peer-review articles, abstracts and other literature on the field of behaviour analysis. All behaviour analysts have undergraduate degrees in a psychology discipline, such as clinical psychology, but some research-oriented analysts don’t have postgraduate degrees. The national salary range for board-certified behaviour analysts is £26,000 to £40,000, with geography, experience and employer type affecting income levels. As with all behaviour analyst jobs, large cities offer the highest salaries.
Applied behavior analyst
ABAs have postgraduate degrees, usually master’s degrees but often Ph.Ds, and work primarily as therapists. Their clients and patients include children, students, people with cognitive disabilities, mentally ill people, brain-trauma patients, and businesses and employees. Often working as a team member with other health professionals, ABAs utilise established methods to assess subjects, establish baseline criteria, observe behaviours, draw conclusions about people’s interactions with their environments and recommend treatment options. Work environments are diverse. ABAs can work in private practice, in clinics or hospitals, for social-service organisations, in schools, for government agencies, at private businesses and in people’s homes. Most analysts specialise in behaviour-related fields such as autism, addiction, geriatrics (working with dementia and Alzheimer’s patients) and head trauma. ABAs are board-certified, and those that reside in states with licensing requirements must be licensed. ABAs earn about £26,000 to £40,000 per year.
Assistant behavior analyst
Assistant behaviour analysts normally are graduate students who work under the tutelage of certified ABAs. They usually assist in data collection and observe their mentors in the analysis and treatment of patients. Their salaries are much lower than certified ABAs, ranging from £14,000 to £22,000 a year, though some assistants work on an internship basis.
Behaviour analyst consultants can earn more than any other positions in the field, depending on frequency of work, and client size and type. Many consultants are contracted by businesses, social-service agencies, government entities and schools to perform specific and well-defined tasks, such as developing an employee behaviour modification program or working with problem students. They may charge an hourly rate or provide prices for entire projects. The salary range of behaviour analyst consultants can range from £23,400 to £44,200, although the high and low ends of the range can vary significantly. Full-time consultants at large private companies can earn £97,500 a year.
Director or Administrator
Directors at health-care facilities or clinics are the highest-paid behaviour analysts as far as salaried positions go. Although most health-care facilities don’t require the services of full-time behaviour analyst administrators, clinics specialising in childhood behaviour or autism, physiotherapy clinics dealing with head trauma patients, and some large health-care facilities or health systems do employ such specialists. Behaviour analyst administrator salaries range from £35,750 to £57,200 per year.
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