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Behavior Analyst Duties and Responsibilities

While a behavior analyst's day-to-day duties and responsibilities are determined by where they work, there are many core tasks associated with the role. Based on our analysis of job listings, these include:

Assess Patient Behavior While observing clients, behavior analysts take note of social and developmental behaviors. They conduct observations in settings such as schools, homes, or communities, and they note any difficulties their client has behaving in these settings.

Develop Behavior Plans After setting goals for clients, behavior analysts develop individualized behavior plans. Using applied behavior analysis, these plans aim to guide the client toward changed behavior.

Consult with Families and Staff Behavior analysts communicate frequently with teachers, families, and staff about the needs of their clients. They inform them of behavior plans and goals for clients, and they discuss clients' progress.

Keep Therapy Notes Behavior analysts keep up-to-date notes on all of their patients. These notes are taken regularly and help in developing behavior plans or tracking progress.

Conduct Behavioral Assessments Behavior analysts conduct behavioral assessments to analyze client behavior. Functional assessments that behavior analysts perform include FAST interviews and ABC analysis.


Behavior Analyst Skills and Qualifications

Behavior analysts are patient and supportive when working through challenges with clients. They are excellent communicators who build rapport with teachers and families and understand each client's individual needs. Most employers look for candidates with one to three years of experience. In addition, the following skills and qualifications are necessary for the job:
  • Knowledge of applied behavior analysis - behavior analysts are familiar with behavioral assessments and understand the ways that behavioral programs are developed and implemented
  • Writing skills - because they frequently draft reports and write-ups, behavior analysts need strong writing skills to clearly convey detailed information about their clients' progress and behaviors
  • Communication skills - behavior analysts possess strong communication skills that let them build rapport with others and work collaboratively to reach specified goals
  • Experience working with children - behavior analysts understand the needs of children and remain patient and professional during tantrums, misbehavior, or other stressful situations
  • Individualized education experience - behavior analysts understand individualized education programs (IEPs) and use strategies to work towards each client's IEP goals

Behavior Analyst Education and Training

Behavior analysts have a bachelor's degree in psychology, applied behavior analysis, or a similar field of study. Some employers also look for candidates with a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) designation or a master's degree in early childhood education and development, special education, psychology, or a related field. On-the-job training is typically provided to familiarize behavior analysts with the procedures at their companies.

Behavior Analyst Salary and Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average median wage for behavior analysts, categorized as mental health counselors, is $46,000. The lowest 10 percent in this field earn less than $26,000 annually. The highest 10 percent in this field earn over $70,000. Full-time positions usually include benefits such as paid time off, retirement plan options, and medical, dental, and vision plans.

Helpful Resources

Ready for a career as a behavior analyst? The following are some helpful resources to get you started:

101 Ways to Do ABA - author Tameika Meadows, M.Ed., explores different ways to approach applied behavior analysis in this book, covering topics like tantrums, self-stimulatory behaviors, and attending to the teacher in a classroom

Applied Behavioral Strategies - this blog presents many effective strategies applied behavioral analysts can use to improve the quality of life for others, including advice for dealing with stressful situations and spreading awareness of autism spectrum disorders

Crafting Connections - written by Mitchell Taubman, Ron Leaf, and John McEachin, this book aims to help children with autism develop the communication skills needed to build genuine, meaningful relationships

The Shape of Behavior - this blog contains numerous articles written by specialists to shed light on pervasive myths in applied behavior analysis. Topics covered include: teaching communication for wants and needs, improving sleep for children with autism, handling aggression and developmental disabilities, and minimizing meltdowns

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