ABA therapists are predicted to experience more than a 20% job growth rate by 2029, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). With a historically positive and steep increase in demand, ABA therapists have a strong job outlook for the future.
The ABA Job Market
ABA therapist is a general term encompassing certified individuals working in the field of applied behavior analysis (ABA). Board-certified assistant behavior analysts (BCaBAs) and board-certified behavior analysts (BCBAs) are the two main types of ABA therapists. Sometimes, registered behavior technicians (RBTs) are also included in this group.
No matter which type of ABA therapist role you are considering, the job market is incredibly strong in 2022. Since 2010, the demand for ABA therapists has increased year after year. The need for licensed behavior analysts has increased in all states, and the job market has a positive outlook for each level of ABA therapy.
Increased Demand Over Time
In 2019, the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) commissioned Burning Glass Technologies to review the demand trends for ABA therapists in the United States. The study revealed a serious and steeply increasing demand for certified ABA therapists.
Key findings from the study are as follows:
- There was a 1,942% increase in demand for BCBAs between 2010 and 2018.
- There was a 1,098% increase in demand for BCaBAs between 2010 and 2018.
- From 2017 to 2018, the demand for BCBAs increased by 127% and by 184% for BCaBAs.
While the study only evaluated data collected through 2018, the increasing demand shows no indication of slowing down in the years to come. The demand for certified ABA therapists is expected to continue to increase for years to come.
Predicted Job Growth
All ABA therapist levels — those that require a high school diploma, bachelor’s degree, and graduate degree — are expected to see significant job growth in the coming years. BLS predicts a job outlook that is much better than the national average for behavioral disorder counselors and therapists.
Therapists with a master’s-level certification, such as a BCBA, are predicted to experience 22% job growth by 2029. For bachelor’s-level therapists, the growth rate is predicted to be 25% by 2029. While not quite as strong, the job growth for social and human services assistants, such as RBTs, who have a high school diploma is also predicted to increase faster than the national average, at about 17% by 2029.
No matter which level of ABA professional you are, it is safe to assume that your job outlook will remain positive and strong for many years to come.
ABA Salary Outlook by Certification
ABA salaries vary greatly depending on which level of certification you have. Therapists with the least amount of education and experience make significantly less than those with higher education levels and more time working in the field.
The 2021 average ABA therapy salaries are as follows:
- RBT: RBTs make an average of $50,140 per year or $21.54 per hour, though top companies pay RBTs $50,000 to $60,000 per year.
- BCaBA: BCaBAs make an average of $50,000 per year or $25.20 per hour.
- BCBA: The average BCBA salary is close to $98,000 per year, with top earners reporting salaries of over $110,000 per year.
As the demand for qualified ABA therapists continues to rise, so too will the expected base salary for each position.
Increase Your Earnings as an ABA Therapist
As opportunities for ABA therapists continue to grow across the country, there are things you can do to increase your earning potential.
- Education: ABA therapists with higher degrees and certifications are nearly certain to earn more. A graduate-level BCBA, for example, makes an average of $20,000 per year more than a bachelor’s-level BCaBA.
- Company: Your specific employer will impact your potential earnings. Highest reported earnings come from private companies, while people working at government or nonprofit organizations typically report earning less.
- Location: If you are flexible on where you live, moving to a state or city where ABA therapists are in greater demand can give you a better chance at earning more.
Experience is also a significant factor in earning potential. Entry-level therapists earn just under $60,000 per year, while therapists with about 10 years of experience report earning about $65,000 per year. Therapists with over 20 years of experience typically earn over $70,000 per year.
Whether you pursue further education and certification or not, you can expect increased earnings over time as an ABA therapist.
Entering the Field of ABA
Now is an excellent time to enter the field of ABA. For more than the past decade, the demand for ABA therapists has increased significantly each year. Individuals and organizations are recognizing the potential of ABA therapy to effectively address a wide range of issues, including autism treatment, recovery from serious injuries, behavioral management in sports and organizations, and helping individuals stay active and independent later in life.
Data reported to PayScale and Indeed reflect a high level of job satisfaction from ABA therapists. ABA therapists have daily opportunities to make a significant difference in their clients’ lives. With the current job outlook for ABA therapists, these opportunities will remain available well into the future.
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Occupational Outlook Handbook: Marriage and Family Therapists. (September 2020). Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Occupational Outlook Handbook: Social and Human Service Assistants. (September 2020). Bureau of Labor Statistics.
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US Employment Demand for Behavior Analysts: 2010-2018. (April 2019). Behavior Analyst Certification Board.