Monday, September 5, 2011

Whats so Great About Being an ABA Therapist ??



Happy Labor Day everyone! I thought it would be very fitting and appropriate on this holiday to blog a little bit about what I think is so great about the career field of ABA. 
The whole point of this blog is my love and passion for ABA, but I also hope that someone who has never heard of ABA before might consider joining the field as a result of stumbling across my blog. So consider this a recruitment ad for becoming an ABA Therapist.





ABA wants you!

Do you love your job? Or is it just a means to a paycheck?

ABA isn't just my job, its something I am passionate about and a science I believe in.
Here are the main reasons why I think being an ABA Therapist is great:
  1. Its a job that combines psychology, counseling, social work, education, and organizational management all in one. So if you have an interest in one or more of those areas, you would love this job.
  2. What you do as an ABA Therapist  is important. Can you say that about your current job?? What you do as an ABA Therapist effects not only the life of a child, but their family, neighbors, community, etc.
  3. For the most part, you set your own hours and determine your own salary. You can work as little or as much as you would like, and as your experience and education grows so will your income.
  4. Its incredibly rewarding. Imagine working with a child for weeks to get them to say the word "Hi", and then eventually reaching a point where they are talking non stop. It makes you feel like you just won the lottery.
  5. Creativity, free thinking, and flexibility of mind are encouraged. Outside talents such as playing an instrument, or being an amazing painter can be incorporated into an ABA session. Teach the child to play an instrument or paint a portrait, have an ABA session at the park or beach, create a slideshow of the child's favorite photos. If you love music, play music during your session for you and your client. Get creative!
  6. Job security. When you look at the demand for ABA professionals compared to the supply, you can easily see that this is a field that will need qualified professionals for a long, long time.
  7. If you already have an interest in a particular group of people, you can choose to work with minority groups within the Autism population. Minority groups can mean individuals who are blind and have Autism, individuals who are African American and have Autism, individuals who have seizure disorders and have Autism, etc. Also, if you have a specific disability or disorder you might be able to bring something very unique to the job of being an ABA Therapist. I have worked with a few great therapists who had Aspergers, OCD, or Anxiety disorders. Due to their own difficulties, they were really able to relate to their clients.
  8. You teach skills that these individuals may use for the rest of their lives. Pretty heavy, huh? That 4 year old girl who you teach to wash her hands will be washing her hands for the rest of her life.....and you had a small part in that.
  9. Unique reinforcement. I can only speak for myself, but the biggest reinforcement I get from my career has nothing to do with a paycheck. My biggest reinforcement is turning an anxious, screaming child into a calm and happy child who can communicate their wants and needs.
  10. No two days have to be the same. There are some therapists who like routine and sameness, and want their sessions to be the same from day to day. I prefer a more varied schedule, because I tend to get bored easily so I am always trying new activities and strategies to help my clients learn.
  11. You get to help people, in real time. With some professions, yes you are helping people but you don't always get to "see" the results of that. If you work as a customer service representative and you help someone fix their problem over the phone that's a very removed kind of help. However, if you are an ABA Therapist and working with a family who you see everyday you really get to see the immediate consequences of your effort. Family interactions improve, stress levels go down, and parents feel empowered as they learn ABA strategies and techniques.
  12. You get to be a "mini- scientist". If you are into developing theories, Pavlov & Skinner, statistics, data analysis, standard deviation, and the like, then ABA is a very satisfying career field. Every time I am contacted about a behavior that a family wants to change in some way, I must observe and define the behavior, measure the behavior, create a hypothesis/theory to explain the behavior, identify confounding variables, implement the intervention, and evaluate the success of the intervention. Much more exciting than what my friends do at work, that's for sure!
  13. I work with some of the most ADORABLE, smart, creative, curious, interesting, and diverse group of children you could think of. Autism affects each child differently, and the more children I work with the more I get to see the many facets of Autism. 
  14. Once you learn how to modify behavior, you are then equipped with the tools to modify anyone's behavior. Yes, that means you can get your husband to load the dishwasher! :-)
  15. There are so many different things you can do within the field of ABA, or working with children with Autism. You can work with families in their home, work in a school, work in a group home or residential facility, work in a hospital or center, you can work locally or internationally, with children or adults, with low or high functioning individuals, etc. You don't ever need to feel bored or unchallenged by what you do in this field. If you don't enjoy working with children, work with adults. If you find working in a school system unsatisfying, work in the home setting.
  16. The greatest thing about what I do is telling people what I do. In a social setting, very quickly people tend to ask the "So what do you do?" question. Its very amusing and interesting to see people react to my explanation of what I do. Its a hard job to explain in a nutshell, but if you have a few minutes to explain to someone what an ABA Therapist does they usually react with something close to "Tell me more!" 




Suggested Post: Super Hero Recruitment

97 comments:

  1. I am applying to graduate school for an MA in ABA. I am happy I stumbled upon this website because this solidified that this is exactly what I want to do.

    Thank you :)

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  2. You are very welcome :-)

    Good luck in grad school!

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    Replies
    1. Hi! I'm really late reading this, but I am a psych major with a focus in ABA, which is a brand new concentration at my university, and was wondering if I should go on to get my Master's or PhD/PsyD in a different concentration so I can be more diverse, and, if so, what do you recommend?

      Delete
    2. Hi! I just read your post, and loved it! I'm a psych major with a focus in ABA, which is a new concentration at my university (as in, just started this fall 2015). I actually have a bunch of questions: one, are there any specific graduate schools you would recommend? Two, what would you recommend for a Master's or PhD, PsyD program (as in, should I do clinical/counseling psych, etc)? And, out of these 3 degree options, which one would you recommend the most if I plan on travelling a lot?

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    3. Hi there!

      Your questions would be best directed to your school advisor department.

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    4. I am a father of a child with autism and I plan on applying to graduate school for an a master's degree in ABA. Does my math skill has to be solid in order to succeed in being an ABA? What kind of math is involved? How would I be able to observe and define the behavior, measure the behavior, create a hypothesis/theory to explain the behavior, identify confounding variables, implement the intervention, and evaluate the success of the intervention?

      The university I am planning on applying to is Ball State University. Is the master's program they offer in ABA good?

      Appreciate your advice!!!

      Delete
    5. Hello and thanks for commenting!

      Usually at the graduate level a math course would be statistics or simple research. However, if you research the college you plan to attend they should be able to provide the required list of courses as well as course descriptions. So then you would know what math content is necessary.

      I don't have any experience with Ball State personally, so I can't comment on if it is a good program or not.

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    6. Thanks for your response to my questions. I have a few more questions:

      1. I am curious, what are the nationwide percentages of children with autism who are:

      a. Non-verbal
      b. Deaf
      c. Hearing-Impaired

      2. Do I need to be certified through the National Certification School Psychologist Examination as an ABA Therapist in order to be eligible to work in a school setting?

      3. With a Master's degree in Applied Behavior Analysis, can I use "ABA Therapist" as a career objective and/or job title? Or only those with BCBA call themselves "ABA Therapists"?

      4. I read an article over the Internet that talks about ABA Therapists work in various settings including mental health facilities and vocational agencies. I am curious, how would an ABA Therapist treat mental health disorders in young children, teens and adults and perform vocational testing and teach job skills?

      Thanks.

      Jorge

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    7. Hi Jorge!

      You are quite welcome.

      Your questions can best be addressed by you conducting research, contacting the BACB directly, and/or speaking with a career counselor/campus advisor. Good luck to you,

      Tameika

      Delete
  3. Thank you so much for this post! I have been considering becoming an ABA therapist for a while now and you have made me very excited to enter this field :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your kind comment, and I'm glad the post was helpful! :-)

      Delete
  4. Hi, how much physical activity is involved in your job? How many hours at work do you spend sitting on average? I am looking into social careers and with my degree in psych, ABA therapy is big right now, but I don't want a desk job. I want to be active.

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    Replies
    1. Hi there!

      This definitely isn't an office job, so no worries :-)

      If you want to be in the field working as a direct therapist, much of your day is spent either driving to clients or working 1:1 with a child or adolescent, so you will be standing/bending/playing/jumping/kneeling, etc.
      If you are interested in pursuing a BCBA and being a Consultant, then there are some administrative job duties (such as writing reports or graphing data) that you would complete at home or at an office. That might be only 15% of your day. Most of your time is spent with the clients, training staff, providing coaching to families, or supervising direct therapists as they work. Consultants can also provide direct therapy, they just typically dont.

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    2. Oh my gosh! That is great! I find most of the therapists I've hired for my son tend to want to sit and work, but what he really needs is a therapist who will run and play actively with him. You would be a wonderful therapist.

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    3. Hi Marilyn,

      Thanks for commenting! Therapists have differing preferences and personalities, just like anyone else. Some therapists are great with younger kiddos and are full of energy and know how to create F-U-N.
      Other therapists are really poor with younger kids because they are too strict, too dull, or dont know how to be creative in the moment.
      Finding a good fit for your child will go beyond a persons experience and education......personality is also important.

      Delete
  5. What is your background? For someone with no training in psychology at all, but a new born interest in the subject because of our beautiful 3 year old with behavioral problems, what would best route to take? Thank you :)

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    Replies
    1. Hello,

      Are you asking about how to enter the field of ABA? If so, I have a blog post about what its like to work in the field/how to begin working as an ABA therapist called "So you want to be a superhero".

      My background is in Psychology. I started in this field by responding to a flyer I saw on my college campus, that I thought was for a babysitting job. I had no knowledge of Autism or ABA at the time, and very quickly I realized that I had stumbled onto a passion.

      Delete
  6. Thank you so much for your list of what you love about being an ABA therapist. I've been wrestling over my options for a Master's degree program and the information you provided has helped me make an informed decision about going down the ABA path. Thank you so much!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Hi Heidi,

      I am glad I could be of assistance to you, and this field has a great need for passionate people. Good luck with your studies!

      Delete
  7. I really love ABA therapy. I am currently pursuing my bachelor in psychology and am really thinking on going through with ABA therapy. I am just worried on the salary. I want to make sure it is a good move financially. I plan on having a big family and to be sure I am secure.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi there,

      Hi there,

      It can be a bit difficult getting a good idea of salary, because many companies keep salaries confidential and wont discuss salary until the interview process. See if you can connect with ABA professionals in your area and ask them what their starting salary was (don't ask what they make now, they likely have increased their salary with experience). I can say that on average, a brand new ABA therapist usually makes about $13 an hour. The more experience you have, the better able you are to negotiate higher salary.

      Delete
  8. Hello,
    I accidently stumbled upon this site and am glad I did. I recently changed my goal direction from social work to ABA and am trying to find out as much as I can. Hope to chat and learn more with everyone here.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad you found the blog, and welcome!

      Delete
  9. What is the difference between a special ed teacher and aba instructor.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The distinctions between various roles and positions can sometimes get blurry, but in general a special ed teacher will have a teaching certification and work in a classroom teaching individuals with disabilities.
      An ABA instructor does not need a teaching background, does not necessarily work in a classroom, and can work with individuals with disabilities or with typically functioning individuals (depends on the setting where they work).

      Delete
  10. Glad I stumbled across this blog! I love it. I recently completed my Bachelors in Psychology and Communicative disorders. I am interested in a Masters in ABA! If you can, please make a post on tips for completing a masters program in ABA, the best schools for ABA, internships on the bachelors degree level, job opportunities, etc.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi there,

      Thanks! I am glad the blog is helpful for you. :-)

      I have a post that is somewhat related to that, its called "So You Want to Be a Superhero". I also have a post about the BCBA process called "The Road to the BCBA".

      Here are some resources that may be helpful for you, that are related to studying ABA further:

      http://www.pc.fsu.edu/Academics/Graduate-Programs/Psychology-Applied-Behavior-Analysis
      http://behavioranalysis.uc.edu/
      http://www.thechicagoschool.edu/Chicago/Our_Programs/MS_in_Applied_Behavior_Analysis
      http://www.sage.edu/academics/education/programs/aba_autism/
      http://www.abainternational.org/
      http://www.bacb.com/
      https://www.facebook.com/groups/139460776226228/


      Good Luck! :-)

      Delete
  11. Hi Tameika,
    Are you a freelance ABA therapist or do you work for a school system or private organization? I am curious because I have been a Sp. Ed. teacher for 7 years and I am tired of the messed up school system that does not allow us to really work with kids the way they need. So, I decided to get my M.Ed in Behavior Analysis and get BCBA to work with ABA early intervention. I researched and debated for years about this. I have family members with mild autism and PDD-NOS and saw first-hand how ABA changed my nephews life. This is what I want to do for others. What kept me from pursuing it was seeing that ABA therapists get $10-15/hour pay which is too low for me to support my family. However, after deeper research i saw that with a Masters degree, BCBA, and experience you could get salary around $50-70K or $75/hr. And I saw that I could work on a contract or salary basis. And I could work in small groups or one-on-one. But, I keep getting also conflicting information. I keep hearing about people who did the BCBA and found it too difficult to work with extreme cases and are back in the school system as a teacher, which they are not happy with, and now they aremiserable. OK, maybe these people went in it without knowing what its like to work with kids with autism? I have had experience with extreme profound autism in age 3-17 and i know its a challenge. i want to work particularly with early intervention, but am willing to attempt older kids. I believe I have a knack with these kids and the patients and compassion to work with them. I saw your post and wanted to ask you about it. Finally, someone who loves it. What are your pros and cons? What age range do you work with? What city do you work in? Private, public or contract? I need some hope that I am not jumping into something dead end. I am already certified to teach Sp.Ed. I am looking for better situation where I can make bigger difference, not have to work directly under school system, and make more money. Is it possible with ABA therapy? I have applied for UC's online M.Ed. I just don't want to start a school loan if its not going to provide a better career direction. Any input you can provide would be wonderful. Thanks!

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    1. Hi Linda,

      Thanks so much for your comment, and I agree with you that ABA can be life-changing! :-)

      To answer your questions:

      - For a few years now, I have worked for a company while simultaneously seeing private clients. So I do both.
      - It is true that direct level staff (ABA therapists) may only make $15-$20 an hour. However, salary varies greatly, even in the same state. So it really depends on where you live and the funding sources available. The same is true for BCBAs. While some may make $50-$70 an hour, I also personally know of places that pay BCBAs $25 an hour. There is a lot of variability with pay in this field.
      - The opportunities in this field are really amazing. There are some professionals who work with specific populations (like early intervention) or specific settings (like school settings). With the right amount of experience and education, the sky is the limit as far as where you can go in this field. This of course also depends on where you live, because areas/states with poor funding sources will have fewer employment options.
      - Much of my work experience was throughout GA, as that is where I attended undergraduate and graduate school. I have worked in-home, for clinic settings, and for schools. I don't necessarily have a preference, but each setting will have its pros & cons. I prefer working with early intervention populations, however most companies want staff to work with a wide variety of clientele, and be open to a mix of clients.

      I hope that was helpful. I think the following blog posts would be helpful for you because they talk about career planning, developing your "niche" as a professional, and how broad the field of ABA can be. Good luck to you!

      http://www.iloveaba.com/2013/12/older-clients-naturalistic-teaching.html
      http://www.iloveaba.com/2013/12/aba-interview.html
      http://www.iloveaba.com/2013/09/the-road-to-bcba.html
      http://www.iloveaba.com/2013/06/school-vs-aba-which-side-are-you-on.html
      http://www.iloveaba.com/2012/08/so-you-want-to-be-superhero.html

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  12. Thanks for the post. I am at a turning point in my career, with a Bachelors in psychology and a Master's in counseling I have never felt like I was in the right position, except when I was working as a private nanny. Of course, all kids will encounter behavior problems at times, but I really enjoyed working with the families to get through them. In some cases it was like a mild version of "supernanny" (not that I felt I was so wonderful, but that we got a child to go from kicking his mother to be the most helpful child to her, etc.). I LOVED it but the kids grew up. I now work with adults with various developmental disabilities, but I feel more like I am babysitting. I am a problem solver by nature, so I have recently started courses for my BCBA. I am so excited to get into the field!!!

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    Replies
    1. Hi there,

      Providing ABA therapy is just such a unique job and there isn't anything else quite like it.
      I also know how dissatisfying it is as a professional to work in a setting where for whatever reason, you aren't able to fully impact the lives of your clients.
      Congrats on your BCBA journey, and good luck to you!

      Delete
  13. Hi,
    Can you work as ABA therapist with Certificate from online course. They offer videos and books and you take a 50 multiple choice test. I only have ECE Associate........ I would appriciate your help. Thanks so much.....I worked as a assistant teacher for 15 yrs children with autism down syndrome behavioral emotional physical disabilities. Then I got sick I want to know if the sites that offer these courses are legit
    Thanks so much

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi there,

      At this time, there is no national certification/licensure for direct level ABA staff (usually called ABA therapists). So your employer, whether thats a company, school, or a family, will determine what qualifications you need. Some companies will hire individuals with no experience and some wont. Some companies will only hire individuals with 4 year degrees, and other companies do not have that requirement. There is a lot of variability.

      However, this is in the process of changing. The BACB is creating a credential for direct staff, and soon there will be specific guidelines around who can and cannot practice ABA. Here is a link to the upcoming RBT credential: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B9BLpV8fyJh8Y0VMSktDSTczaDQ/edit

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    2. Hi there. I am an MSW who has been a stay at home mom for over 10 years. I know the above comments was from two years ago, so I thought I would share if it helps. I am looking at an online Graduate certiciate in ABA through Arizona State University. They have an autism spectrum disorder certiciate as well as other behavioral science undergraduate, graduate, and graduate certificate options. You can find more info at asuonline.asu.edu. Lots of interesting options. Thank you for your blog. this has been very helpful!

      Delete
    3. I hope that original poster sees your comment! Thank you for trying to help :-)

      Delete
  14. Could you tell me about the hours that aba therapists work? Do they work daytime hours, or evening hours after school when kids get home from school?

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    Replies
    1. Hi, thanks for commenting!

      Typically, ABA therapists work afterschool hours which is usually between 3 and 7. If you work with preschool aged children, parents typically want early morning hours (8am-11am), especially if the child still naps.
      However most ABA therapists have a filled schedule of multiple clients that they work with, and breaks in between clients for travel time. For example: Client A 9am-12pm, Client B 12:30pm-2:30pm, Client C 5pm-7pm.

      Delete
  15. I am currently studying speech-pathology as an undergrad and one of my advisors told me to look into ABA therapy as a potential option after graduation (Spring 2015) I'm having a hard time finding out information about how to go about doing this however. How/when/where do you get certified for a job in ABA therapy? Does my major even allow me to pursue a job in this field? Thanks!!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello & thanks for commenting!

      Two resources I would recommend to you are the Behavior Analyst Certification Board: http://www.bacb.com/index.php?page=101118, and a post I wrote about what its like being an ABA Therapist: http://www.iloveaba.com/2012/08/so-you-want-to-be-superhero.html.

      At this time, there is no specific criteria to work as an ABA tutor, direct line therapist, or ABA therapist (these titles are interchangeable). The only current certification is at the Behavior Analyst level, which means that any family, school, or company who hires ABA therapists will set their own criteria for employment.

      However, the BACB has created a credentialing process for direct line staff called the RBT (Registered Behavior Technician). At this time the credential is not yet active.

      Hope that is helpful!

      P.S. I think a speech background combined with ABA knowledge is a wonderful combo! Good luck in your career :-)

      Delete
  16. Hello I am extremely interested in getting into the field of aba. I currently have my bachelors in psychology and was just offered a job as a teacher's aide for children 3-5 with autism. I would like to start grad school in January and get a masters in mental health counseling with a concentration in aba. If I have my certification to become a BCBA this will allow me to work in a more administrative setting such as consultations but will I still be able to be a behavior therapist for clients outside of whatever company I work for? And what are the job prospects for this field? I am interested in movie to Georgia....around the Atlanta area and I read one of your comments saying that you are in that area. What is the demand for BCBA's and for therapists? My biggest fear is to graduate and not be able to find a decent paying job in the field.

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    1. Hello Renata,

      It is so important to do your due diligence before entering this field and evaluate your area to see if its a good fit professionally. Meaning: what is the average salary for a BCBA compared to the cost of living? If you want to work in schools, is that possible where you live? Does your state require licensure?, etc. People end up in situations like you describe (not being able to find work) only because they didnt really look at the employment prospects for their state before they obtained certification.

      Yes, as a BCBA you have the flexibility to work as direct staff or supervisory. Its just most BCBAs do not work in direct staff positions because they pay less, they often do not have the stability of a Behavior Analyst position, and most companies wont want to hire a BCBA in a direct staff role....they need you in a supervisory role.

      In GA, there is no required insurance mandate for Autism coverage. This means that just because there is great need here, doesn't mean people can access therapy. It can be difficult for families to pay for therapy, which means you may find it difficult to make a living. I have worked independently for years, combining several clients from varying states, and a few from outside the country. So I dont work for one company as a FT BCBA. I find that works for me, but that may not be an ideal situation for you. Its very individualized.

      I can say there is huge demand here in GA (just like there is most places), however that huge demand may not necessarily mean tons and tons of work opportunities, due to minimal funding options.

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  17. Hi Tameika our son is 14 and never had Aba therapy and started for the first time 21/2 months ago 2 sessions a week each an hour- two hours long. Our son does not like his therapist. All they do I'd sit around our dining room table with flash cards, the iPad or a story related to social skills and he hates it and has melt downs. His therapist is a very large man with what seems to be some health issues. He is very monotone with his speaking and doesn't show much excitement in his voice when he sees him. He has not done any life skills with him. How can we tell him we want him to be more engaged with our son and not keep trying to confine him to the table with boring cards without being rude or insensitive to his health issues??

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    1. Hi Tina,

      Im happy to hear that your son has started receiving ABA services. Even though you say he has never had ABA therapy before, I believe progress is always possible.

      Have you spoken to the Consultant/Supervisor about your concerns with the staff? Its important to always share your concerns with the Supervisor, as we need that feedback to know if parents are satisfied or not.
      If there is no supervisor, speak to the direct staff openly about your concerns. Regardless of health issues, you have hired this person to help your child. If for any reason you dont feel they are effective, or you just dont think its a "good fit", you have every right to state your opinion. No one should make you feel uncomfortable for doing so, as any professional should want a "good fit" as well, and should want you to be highly satisfied with their performance.

      Provide specific feedback to this staff person, focusing on what you have observed and avoiding "I think" or "I feel" statements. For example, "I have observed the following behaviors from you (state your concerns), and I need you to do less of (state what you want them to change) and more of (state what you would like them to do)".

      Good luck!

      Delete
  18. I am brand new in this field. Here is my experience. I applied to two different agencies so far. The first wanted me to take workshops that cost up to and including 400$ BEFORE I could begin working. In the second agency, I found the nicest people. They promised me that I would get all my supervision hours for free and that I would be properly trained. In addition, they told me they had plenty of work within walking distance of my front door. Heres what actually happened: The director strongly recommended a client she felt would be great experience for me. That client was 120 miles round trip. She was looking for anyone to take this client so it would spare her the travel. I told her it was costing me more than I was making and I had to stop. As retaliation, she told me to forget about supervision, she was suddenly booked. I get paid once a month. My paperwork must be turned in within the first 5 days of the month OR...you miss the billing cycle...no pay for that month. IF you are given the wrong authorization codes...sorry..no pay for that month. Every single month, I am terrified that they will withhold my check. Presently, Im owed several days from May that just disappeared and now July has over 600$ in sessions whose authorization numbers are inaccurate. I called the director or services and got these codes directly from her...and yet once again, the codes are wrong. When the codes are wrong, your pay changes. Each code can be a difference of 15 to 60$ for the same exact child and service. They try to manipulate the codes you get paid the least amount. Ive been working for 6 months now and no one in my agency has cared enough to come out and see what Im doing or making sure my books are in order. I am the lead for all my cases and there is no one else on the cases with me. So I have no idea if Im implementing the programs properly or not. No one seems to care. Its been disappointing and heart wrenching. I wish someone would have warned me.

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    1. Hi Chris,

      I'm sorry to hear you have had such horrible experiences, that is really unfortunate. The supervisors you are referring to are BCBA's, correct? If so I seriously suggest you file an ethical complaint (or multiple ones) with the BACB because the behavior you are describing from these individuals is deplorable. That isnt the type of place you should continue working at, and companies like that do NOT represent this field.

      Delete
  19. I have an interview for a aba line therapist on Monday. I have no experience other than being a MRTT at a home for children with autism. Are there any tips you can give me, i really want this job.

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    1. Hi,

      Good luck on your interview. I do have a post about interviewing for ABA positions, I hope its helpful.

      Here is a link: http://www.iloveaba.com/2012/03/interview-other-side.html

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  20. Hi. I recently completed a bachelor's degree in Psychology. I am a first year teacher now and I absolutely love my job. I'm not very confident about working with special children, which is why I began teaching instead of pursuing psychology. But I loved ABA during my bachelor's program. I have worked with a physically disabled child for a while as part of the course requirement.

    So, I love ABA but I can't work with mental disabilities. If I now go for a master's in ABA, what would my options be if I don't want to work with mental disabilities (so autism would be out of the question). Anything I can do in schools, maybe?

    Your input on the matter would be very helpful :)

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    1. Hello,

      Have you viewed the varying certification levels on the BACB website? That is your best source of information to understand what one can do within the field of behavior analysis, at various education levels. ABA in general is much broader than Autism/special needs, however many individuals who pursue certification do so in order to work with the special needs population.

      A degree in ABA is similar to a degree in Psychology, in that without certification/licensure your job options could be very limited. Is it possible to work in some ABA manner without being certified or licensed? Completely depends on the laws/regulations and funding sources where you live. The job opportunities available would also vary depending on your local job market. If you aren't interested in serving special needs kids or adults, it may take much more research and diligence to find other types of positions. If you just go a quick Google search of companies seeking ABA professionals you will see what I mean.

      Working with a school system would typically limit you to serving a special needs population. If a school has the interest and funding to hire someone to provide ABA services, then it will probably be to serve their special education department.

      Delete
  21. Hi Tameika, it is good to see that you love your job so much. I am from Hong Kong and I am fresh graduate in Psychology in July. I found my main interest is counseling with people with different kind of emotional problems (I am not sure how to explain this, but I do love the process in helping people through communication).

    Here comes to my question that, I have an interview today of ABA therapist and I do find that ABA is quite an interesting and inspirating job and somehow have similarity with what I love. But on the other hand, I am afraid that working as an ABA therapist will be difficult and this may not be what I am expected to do. Could you give me some guidance or advice for me.

    I hope I can get something or some emotional support from you. Again, your experience and this blog is amazing and it gives me some encouragement in entering into ABA therapist. :)

    Thank you and good luck:)

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    Replies
    1. Thank you and I appreciate you stopping by!

      I would recommend pursuing an internship or short term position initially (such as at a special needs summer camp program) before applying for a job in this field until you know this is really what you want to do. This job is definitely not for everyone, and thats ok. It is better to find that out before committing to a company.

      I have a couple of blog posts related to this topic, I think they would help you. Here are the links:

      http://www.iloveaba.com/p/super-hero-recruitment.html
      http://www.iloveaba.com/2012/03/interview-other-side.html

      Delete
  22. amzaing sharing! keep going!

    ReplyDelete
  23. Hi Tameika!

    I'm looking into ABA, but I'm a little confused. I realized I wanted to do it after going to my nephew's ABA appointments, but I'm confused how to continue onto this path. I'm an undergraduate right now, and I was going to major in Neuroscience. Do you think it matters whether I do a BA or BS? I do not have much experience, but I heard having a BS is more beneficial. Also, is it best for my to apply for the PhD program or Masters? I know eventually I want to have a PhD in this field, but I'm not sure what is best. I'm sure that a PhD will help with findings jobs, but not sure if a Masters will do the same. Now I have some questions that are a little logistical: how is the job security with ABA? Everything I've read says that it's a growing field, so should finding a job be a hassle? What is the salary in this field?

    Thank you so much for your help!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi there!

      Many of the answers to your questions vary from state to state, as laws and funding sources vary. For example, the ABA funding opportunities here in Georgia differ from the ABA funding opportunities in California. The available funding impacts salary, because (and quite logically) areas with minimal funding have fewer companies that pay lower salaries. So you need to start local to get the most accurate information, by speaking with professionals who live and work in your state.

      Your best source for questions about obtaining certification is the Board website (www.bacb.com). They are currently changing the certification requirements, including degree requirements, so you will want to check that website regularly to stay up to date.


      Tameika

      Delete
  24. Hi Tameika,

    I want to become an ABA therapist for a start, but my problem is that ABA is not yet very popular in our area, or country for that matter. I want to be employed as a therapist but chances are a bit low because there are no aba therapy centers in our place. Although there are schools that offer special education, im not sure if i would be able to specialize on aba. what are your thoughts about this. I really want to start my career as an ABA professional but the opportunity here is limited. Also, i have researched about the great need for aba professionals overseas, however, without experience, i may not be a good fit, hence, unqualified. I really appreciate an advice about this. thank you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your comment :-)

      I dont know if you live outside of the US, but this can be a problem for parts of the US as well. Some areas just do not have many ABA options, or have even heard of what ABA is. It can make finding secure employment difficult or impossible.
      If relocation is an option, that is what I would suggest. You want to pursue a certification/degree in something you can actually work in, which sometimes means having to move from your current location.

      Is starting your own company/agency an option? I consult with 2 different companies who were created out of a need in their area.....before those companies opened, there was a lack of ethical, quality ABA in their local areas.

      To answer your question about getting a job with no experience, that isnt quite true. Many places hire staff with no experience and train them, or they look for people with related experience (or an equivalent degree). So I would suggest pursuing a degree in ABA or a related field, or seeking similar experience such as childcare or teaching, as this will make you a desirable applicant even if you dont have actual ABA experience. If the schools in your area don't offer ABA coursework, pursue an online degree.
      The demand in most areas is far too great to only hire people with direct ABA experience......many employers would happily provide you with the training you need.

      Tameika

      Delete
  25. Hi Tameika, I am currently an undergraduate student majoring in sociology and I am starting to apply to master's programs. I am stuck between ABA and social work... is there any insight you can give comparing the two? This is a great blog.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi & Thanks for Commenting,

      I do not know much about social work as a career, but I would imagine the case management piece is quite similar to what a BCBA does (have a specific caseload, write reports, help families, etc). The biggest difference may be the clinical focus, which for social work I would assume is more mental health/counseling, and for ABA practitioners we use and disseminate behavioral interventions. Everything we do is focusing on behavior. I have worked with some colleagues in the past from mental health backgrounds who were very surprised by the effectiveness of behavioral approaches on not just the behavior of the client, but the whole family system. So I think that would be the biggest difference: do you love the science of ABA, or do you just want a career where you help people and do case management? I think once you answer that question, it will tell you which way you should go.

      Good luck!

      Tameika

      Delete
  26. Hi Tameika I enjoyed your post! I'm currently working as a behavior instructor for an agency in California. I came in with no prior aba experience and I absolutely love this field. I am currently interviewing with another agency that uses predominantly floortime/DIR and aba and have had a chance to observe the sessions. I also like this agency because it offers more aggressive parent training and holds weekly social skill classes for various age groups. I saw how these classes were taught as part of the interview process and they are wonderful.
    What is your opinion about the use of two modalities floortime and aba, advantages and disadvantages?
    Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Lisa,

      Congrats on your new job, it seems like you clearly have a passion for the field even though you are new to it.
      The other agency you are thinking of working with, are there credentialed individuals on staff (BCBAs)? I ask because the BACB ethical guidelines state that credentialed individuals must implement/endorse evidence based strategies, which Floortime is not.
      Floortime is often popular with families, but the research does not support it as being effective. So I cant really list pros/cons of it, because it isn't something I practice. I would suggest you review the BACB website, and become familiar with the ethical guidelines for this field (www.bacb.com), and seek out employers who also practice ethically.

      Good luck to you!

      Tameika

      Delete
  27. Hi Tameika,

    First off, let me say that you have made me even more excited about starting my ABA courses for my Master's degree. I start Monday with my first course and have my supervisor lined up as well. My question is do you think a specialization in Play Therapy is a good idea to obtain in the ABA community?

    Thank you for answering,
    LaTisha

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi LaTisha,

      Thanks for your comment! Good luck in your ABA coursework.
      There are some evidence based play learning techniques that would line up very nicely with what you could do in the field, depending on your clinical practice area. You dont mention what you plan to do in the ABA community, but the field is very broad. IF you plan to work with special needs children, then yes, a theoretical framework for teaching play would be very useful.

      Delete
  28. Hi there!

    Thank you so much for your post; I found it very intriguing. I was recently accepted into Columbia's School of Social Work but I have deferred my enrollment for one year. I am currently working at an institution that mainly practices behavioral analysis techniques and I've fallen in love with it! I plan on getting my MA next year, but do you think I should get my MSW as well as a MA in ABA or simply an MA in ABA? I can see myself working at my current company well-after graduate school and I know a lot of my co-workers simply have a MA in ABA and their BCBA, so would it even be worth it to get my MSW on top of all this?

    Also, do you know of any combined program that offers an MSW degree with BCBA required courses? That would be ideal.

    Thanks,
    Doug

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Doug,

      Your questions would be better addressed to a career/academic adviser, and some of this information will vary depending on licensure laws in your state and job options within ABA.

      I suggest first narrowing down what your career goals are within this field (do you want to do research? work in early intervention? work in the business sector?) and then speaking to an academic adviser.

      Good luck!

      Tameika

      Delete
  29. Hi Tameika,
    I'm so happy to have found your blog. I'm currently doing the ABA program after completing my MA three months ago. I was wondering if I can finish with the four classes left then begin with my field experience or do I do them simultaneously? I'm currently overwhelmed with two classes and with my family to take care of, I would like to wait. Thanks,
    Moe

    ReplyDelete
  30. Hi Moe,

    I'm not sure if I am understanding your question, are you asking when you can begin the supervision experience requirement? If so, that can begin as soon as you complete the supervision module and start your ABA coursework. This information can be found on the BACB website: www.bacb.com

    ReplyDelete
  31. Hi Tameika,
    Sorry for the confusion. I've completed the supervision module, but I'm busy with school work and won't have time to do the field experience. I was wondering if I have to do the school work with the supervision experience or do you think I can begin the experience after I've taken all of my classes by next year? In other words, is it a requirement do both at the same time? Thanks again
    Moe

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ohhhh, okay :-)

      I dont think its a requirement to do them at the same time, however, for the purposes of learning and developing your skillset most people feel its the best way.

      Delete
  32. Hello Tameika,
    I'm so excited I came across your blog. Recently, I returned back to school to major in Elementary Education (k-6). I have less than two years left on my program. Now, I'm interested in working with special needs children, but I'm not sure which way to go. The ultimate goal is to obtain a degree & certification in ABA, but should I add collaborative teaching (6 or 7 classes) after graduating in Elementary Education? I know I want to work with school age children in the school system and on a contractual basis in the community.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Hello!

    Thank you for visiting the blog :-)

    There is SO much variety and choices to work with special needs children, so you have plenty of options.
    It all depends on what exactly you want to do, and in what setting (as different work settings have differing regulations and requirements). For example, the credentials and certifications that a school system would want, vary greatly from what most ABA agencies ask for. On top of that, this information will also vary between states.
    So it all depends on where you will be working. If both for a school system and in the community, then the school system you have in mind and the state laws/regulations in your state (is licensing required? do funding sources only pay claims to BCBA's?) would be where you would find these answers.

    Good Luck!

    ReplyDelete
  34. Hi!
    I'm happy I found your blog. I have been working part time in elementary education for several years. I was feeling frustrated about not getting even an interview for full time work (it's hard in my state!) when my friend suggested trying ABA as a career. I was just hired as a direct service provider. I really hope I find as much joy providing therapy for families as I do teaching because the field is growing like crazy here! I am encouraged by your recruitment post!

    ReplyDelete
  35. I am now going into my 2nd course in BCBA certification. I also already have my BS and MS in Psychology and started on my PhD, but had to take a break from it for now. I am confused as to how to start doing a clinical/residency in my state and how do I go about finding a facility that will help me get into the field for actual practice. Thank you
    Dee

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your comment,

      Locating a site for your supervision experience just requires contacting people in your local area (unless you can relocate, then you can expand your search) and inquiring about employment. You should target your search to sites that line up with your clinical interest. For example, I have always worked primarily with young children on the Spectrum so that is the type of supervision experience I looked for. If that is not your individual interest, theres always working with adults, serving brain injury individuals, working in a school system, etc. There are tons of options and choices when it comes to ABA!
      Also, please note that some experience sites may charge you for providing BCBA supervision which can be in the form of a lowered pay rate, or no pay rate/intern status. It also is not unusual that the agency/company may require you stay at least 1 year post certification.

      Tameika

      Delete
  36. Hi Tameika,

    I have loved reading your blog and find it so resourceful for parents and therapists. I worked as an aba therapist at a company under a BCBA. Although I know it is ideal for me to be a BCBA in this field it is not possible at this time. I have a passion for aba and working with kids with autism. I recently moved and I have thought about doing my own private aba session. If I am upfront with the parents that I am not a BCBA is this legal? Would you suggest this? What suggestions do you have for me starting these private sessions? How much is appropriate to charge?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for commenting,

      As long as you openly state your qualifications and experience (clearly inform that you are not Board Certified) then there isn't anything illegal going on.
      To answer your other questions, that totally depends on where you live/work. You don't mention a state, but some states require licensure for anyone to practice behavior analysis. So if you live in one of those states, you cant even offer BCBA services without being first certified, and then licensed. So you definitely need to check with your state ABA association, and look into state laws where you live.

      Since insurance companies typically only pay claims to licensed or credentialed professionals, I am assuming your clients will be private pay? If so, again this will vary depending on where you live. You have to be priced fairly enough that people can afford to pay out of pocket for your services, and you also have to price yourself against other local BCBAs. Obviously, if the local BCBA rate is $50/hr, you should charge lower than that since you are not certified. So this will take research for your local area to come up with a fair rate.

      Good luck!

      Tameika

      Delete
  37. Thank you for your prompt response. I should have mentioned it's the state of Nevada, Las Vegas area. I looked up the Neveda Association for Behavioral Analysis but couldn't find anything about if the state requires licensure for anyone to practice behavior analysis. Yes it would be private pay but it isn't for BCBA services its for Aba therapy services as a tutor.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello,

      If you will be providing direct therapy services, then licensure may not be an issue. States can determine who can deliver ABA services, at a direct or supervisory level.
      However, it is still best practices for a BCBA to oversee the clinical treatment (even in a private pay scenario). The role of direct staff is intended to work together with a supervisor.

      Delete
  38. thank you for your blog! i am so happy i came accross it. i have 2 job offers and i am having difficulty deciding between preschool teacher or therapist. both are good companies which is why i am having a hard time. your blog just helped decide. thank you.

    also, i would like to congratulate you for a very successful blog post. your blog has been alive for 4 years now and is still continuing to help people.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad you found the blog!
      Thats really cool to hear, and to me a really big compliment. I am glad something I said on my blog helped you make a decision regarding your career.

      I know, I can't believe how long I've been blogging!! It feels like I just started :-)

      Delete
  39. I Have Never been more Inspired! This is so Beautiful and really shows you absolutely love what you do!! I Have been doing so much career searching to find exactly what is right for me and I may have just Found it because of your blog! =) I want to work with children helping them in any way possible, see them change and grow and become all the greatness they can be!! I would be going back to school starting from scratch so I have a long way until I can become a Aba Therapist but I am so thankful You posted this and helped me decide!! I would like to know What are the hours like at the place your at? Are you off weekends or have a set schedule? Thanks again!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much, I appreciate that! :-)

      Thats the biggest compliment I can hear, is that someone decided to look into the field of ABA as a career based on something they read on this blog.
      Actually if what you want is to start entry level (direct staff) you just need the RBT credential. It may not be the long process you are thinking of...its not as complicated and lengthy as becoming a BCBA. I recommend reading up on the various certifications at the BACB website: www.bacb.com

      I don't know if this will help you much because I work as a BCBA, not as direct staff. The positions are very different. But to answer your question, I make my own schedule at the various employment sites I work for or with. So my schedule is full of a variety of clients, meetings, school observations, assessments, etc. A typical day for me starts about 10am and ends at 7pm or so, but I don't work full time so I don't work every day. I also don't work weekends....well, thats not quite true :-) Much of this job is what you do at home, on your own time, for your cases. So I DO work weekends, just on paperwork and things like that and I definitely don't get paid for it, ha ha.

      Delete
    2. Thanks For replying! ha ha that kinda work on the weekends wouldn't bother me, Its the being gone and away from the fam on those days that would kill me!! Would you say that you have stability working only part time? like what you make part time is enough or can you have the option to work full if you wanted too? Sounds great to be able to create your own schedule and be doing what you love!! I will definitely look into the RBT credential!! Thanks for being so helpful!

      Delete
    3. Glad I could help!

      I have always juggled many different things, to me the overwhelming caseload and duties assigned to the typical FT BCBA position isn't ideal if you want any type of work-life balance (just my opinion).
      So I prefer to privately consult, occasionally do trainings or workshops, and I work part time locally. It works for me, I have no complaints.
      While I could easily choose to accept a FT BCBA position that just isn't my preference. There is far too much demand for this field, for anyone to feel stuck or "pushed" into any one box or way of working.

      Delete
  40. I been working with special ed about a year now in a public school setting working with kids with autism, special needs and pradi willis syndrome. I have a bachelors in psychology and currently working on a masters in social work, I been thinking about doing the ABA certification after completion of my MSW . I have an Applied Health studies Associates degree, I been working with special needs from elderly, to children. I live in Georgia and as I been doing my research it's opportunities in ABA here, my question is will, I be able to still work in a school setting I checked with several school districts in my community but it seems rare to see job listing for ABA therapy, as well as going to the homes working one on one with children. Please inform me on helpful info in this career path in ABA , my passion is working with special needs and I have 7-years working with special needs.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Lashica,

      I live in Georgia too, and I would agree with you. Many of the schools here do not have an accurate understanding of what ABA is, or they may offer similar sounding interventions such as "behavior supports". The problem is, exactly what "behavior supports" are offered often vary from school to school.
      If you are looking for the typical ABA therapist position inside the school system, I don't think you will find that. What you may see are openings to work as a paraprofessional/support staff with the Autism population, but again, that may or may not mean ABA methodology will be used. Most of my school based clients (services occur primarily at school) turned to an outside agency in the first place because their school did not offer intensive, function based treatment.

      So to answer your question, it is possible you can work in some type of ABA instruction capacity inside the school system but it will look very different from the typical ABA therapist position. Also, the methodology/implementation may be quite flawed, just depending on who is designing treatment.

      Good luck,

      Tameika

      Delete
  41. Hello, My name is Sajira Fregoso and I look forward to working in helping children with autism as an ABA therapist, but I have a couple of questions, hopefully you can help me.
    Fist of all I am already looking to transfer to a Cal state and start my career path, should I start with my B.A in psychology and then obtain my M.A in psychology with applied behavior analysis option? or do I get my M.A in Applied behavior analysis with the option in autism?
    Also what is the salary outlook for the Los Angeles/Orange County area? Thanks in advance.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi there!

      Thank you for commenting.
      Your best option would be to speak to an adviser at Cal State, or contact the BACB directly regarding your questions. A career counselor or academic adviser would be the most qualified to help you.

      Also I do not live in CA, so I cannot comment on salary range. I suggest contacting BCBAs in that area, or doing an internet search of job postings in that area and comparing starting salaries.

      Good luck!

      Delete
  42. I have my masters degree in special edu and provide early intervention, parent training and resource room services, do I have to get my bcba (mandatory)?? The coursework is very overwhelming and is difficult to do in addition to working f/t.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi there, thanks for commenting.

      Your decision to pursue certification really depends on your career/educational goals. I pursued certification both because I wanted to learn the science of behavior, and because I knew what I wanted to do would require certification (case management).
      I don't know what your work setting is, but if your work setting does not require certification then its really up to you. Just like there are medical professionals or legal professional who are not "doctors" or "lawyers", there are people who work somewhere in the field of ABA but are not certified. Typically that will be a direct staff role, but if that's your dream job then no, having a BCBA won't be necessary.

      Delete
  43. HI! I really loved this post. I have a few questions to one of your statements.

    For the most part, you set your own hours and determine your own salary. You can work as little or as much as you would like, and as your experience and education grows so will your income.

    Question: As a BCBA I am really interested in branching off and doing my own thing but I have NO IDEA how to do this. I don't know the red tape that the legal system has on starting this up. My questions are:

    1. I live in Ohio, can I act as my own employer and provide ABA services to families and children not only diagnosed with ASD but who also display challenging behavior

    2. Would I be considered a contractor?

    3. Do I need to contact anyone to legally be allowed to offer these services and make an income?

    4. Would I have to have business insurance or anything of that nature?

    5. Would I just bill out at a rate of my choice (common within the field) or can I accept the Autism Scholarship or access that Autism benefit under some insurances?

    6. Can I provide services at my house or the students house? If so Do I legally need to have documents stating I do this? Can I legally do this? What can make this legal if not?

    Thanks for all your help!!! If you have any answers I'd love to hear them. If you have anyone to refer me to then let me know! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi there :-)

      Thanks for visiting, and these are great questions. I do not own a practice (nor do I want to); I am an independent contractor. Those are 2 very different roles.
      So some of your questions I am not the best person to ask. However, I will try to help.
      Also, I have a resource geared towards people who want to start companies/centers. It is based on what I have learned from my colleagues who do own companies. Look in my free resource section for a document titled "Tips for starting an ABA practice".

      Okay, now to your questions:

      1. I do not reside in Ohio, so I have no knowledge of laws regarding behavior analysis in that state. You need to speak with local business owners in the field (I suggest starting with your states behavior analysis association...start contacting people). You also may need to consult with an attorney if you plan to employ staff/create a LLC.

      2 & 3. Typically yes, but again there are legal differences between what would be an "employee" and what would be a "contractor". This can vary based on your area, and you also need to see if a business license is required. In some areas contractors have to purchase a business license, even if you do not see clients in your home. Your local courthouse would have that information, the first part an attorney could help you with.

      4. All independent BCBA's I know carry liability insurance, at their own cost. For most companies, its offered free of charge (if you are an employee). If you plan to open a business/company, you likely will need far more rigorous coverage for your practice and your employees/staff.

      5. While you can definitely choose your own rates, you have to consider what is competitive for your area. You don't want to price yourself out of clients....if you accept insurance funding, they will determine your rates. You can try and negotiate your rate, I just don't know of anyone who has successfully done that. I am unaware of the Autism scholarship, I'm assuming that's a local funding source. Funding sources will vary from state to state, and will depend on if your state has an insurance mandate or not. The insurance/credentialing process is...challenging :-) That is the nicest way I can say that.

      6. For the sake of liability, I would not see clients in my home. I don't even transport clients in my vehicle. I suppose you COULD, but would it be worth the extra insurance you would have to purchase to protect yourself?? I typically see clients in home or at school/daycare.

      Delete
    2. THANK YOU, THANK YOU! You've been very helpful. I am thinking that I may not want to pursue the independent business owner route but being a contractor sounds more reasonable. If you have any time, do you think you could explain to me how you became a contractor? Are you employed by a company? Any information is helpful! :)

      You Rock! I really appreciate your blog and advice!

      Delete
    3. You are super welcome :-)
      Working as a contractor, you can work for companies or directly for clients (schools, families, etc.). In my area, I mainly work for companies. I also work directly for clients, but they are all out of the state. Many companies prefer contractors to employees if the staff works part time. If the position will be full time, then usually the company will want you to be an employee. But again, this will vary depending on your area and applicable laws. Legally, you have to meet the criteria for a contractor. If your position will not fit the criteria then yo have to be an employee. For example, I once worked for a company where all the direct staff had employee status because it was a position where they could not work independently, and they did not make their own schedule. For those and other reasons, they all had to transition from contractors to employees...which came with a significant pay cut that they weren't happy about.

      You need to seek employment in your local area and see who is hiring contractors.


      This post may be helpful for you: http://www.iloveaba.com/2012/03/interview-other-side.html

      Delete
  44. How do I become an ABA therapist? I don't really see any colleges that offer that degree only a certificate. It's kind of confusing. thank you

    ReplyDelete
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    1. This information should be helpful: http://bacb.com/rbt/

      Delete