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What Can You Do with an Applied Behavior Analysis Graduate Degree?

If you're interested in a career as a professional behavior analyst, a graduate degree such as NLU's M.S. or Ed.S. in Applied Behavior Analysis can prepare you with the training and skills you need to meet your goals. Throughout the programs, you'll study the historical and philosophical foundation of behavior analysis, fundamental concepts and principles, and core practitioner skills including assessment techniques, program planning, staff training and management strategies.

With a master's or post-master's degree in applied behavior analysis, you'll have the opportunity to pursue a wide range of career options across a variety of industries, which we'll explore in the sections below.

Applied Behavioral Analysis Career & Salary Info

The demand for credentialed behavior analysts has more than doubled since 2012—a national trend, with demand increasing in nearly every state.1 While demand varies by industry, the majority (85 percent) of job postings fall under health care, educational services and social assistance, each of which requires its own set of skills:2

  • Health Care: Behavior analyst roles in health care call for skills in assessment, treatment planning, therapy and case management.
  • Educational Services: In the education industry, behavior analyst roles are primarily located within schools and require assessment, behavior management program development, data collection and interdisciplinary collaboration skills.
  • Social Assistance: Skills required by the social assistance industry are more varied, and can include job coaching, treatment planning, staff training and more.

In addition to the industries listed above, behavior analysts can find employment in insurance, public administration, local government, and professional, scientific and technical services.3 Regardless of the industry, behavior analyst job titles are varied, and can include: counselor, clinical and school psychologist, medical and health services manager, special education teacher, teacher assistant, guidance and vocational counselor, education administrator and more.4

The top specialized skills employers look for in a professional behavior analyst include:5

  • Experience with autism
  • Psychology
  • Treatment planning
  • Experience working with developmental disabilities
  • Therapy
  • Data collection
  • Case management
  • Mental health
  • Human development
  • Crisis intervention
  • Behavioral health
  • Social services
  • Experience working with special needs children
  • Employee training
  • Program development
  • School Psychology

According to the Association for Professional Behavior Analysts’ (APBA) 2009 Professional Employment Survey,80% of respondents reported working full time, while 14.8% indicated that they worked part time by choice, and only 3% worked part time because they could not find additional work. The majority of respondents reported salaries ranging between $40,000 and $80,000, with an additional 25% of respondents reporting salaries greater than $80,000.6

Popular Careers in Applied Behavioral Analysis

Behavior analysts can pursue a variety of career paths, depending on their interests and goals. Below are some of the most common careers for those with a graduate degree in applied behavioral analysis.


Counseling is one of the most common career paths for those with a master's in applied behavior analysis. The demand for such roles is significantly higher than other fields, with about one in five counselor job listings seeking behavior analyst graduates.7 Counseling can encompass a variety of specialties, with practitioners working anywhere from public schools to colleges, hospitals, residential programs, clinics and more. Depending on their area of focus, counselors may work with children or adults with developmental or intellectual disabilities and/or mental health concerns.

Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) 

Many behavior analysts pursue BCBA certification, which requires completion of an applied behavior analysis graduate program in behavior analysis, psychology or education, as well as supervised practical experience working in the field. BCBA-certified professionals typically work with clients who have behavior difficulties, identifying behaviors, creating behavior plans, managing crisis behaviors and providing assessments of those with severe behavior disorders.

Source References [+]

1-5. "US Behavior Analyst Workforce: Understanding the National Demand for Behavior Analysts." 2015.

6. Johnston, J.M. "APBA 2009 Professional Survey Results." 2009.

7. "5 Careers for Graduates with a Master's in Applied Behavior Analysis."


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