How to Become an ABA Therapist

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a specialized field that focuses on improving the lives of individuals with behavioral disorders. ABA therapists work with individuals with autism, ADHD, and other behavioral disorders to help them learn new skills and behaviors. Becoming an ABA therapist is a rewarding career choice that can lead to a fulfilling career in the field of special education. In this article, we will discuss the steps to become an ABA therapist.

Step 1: Obtain a Bachelor’s Degree

The first step in becoming an ABA therapist is to obtain a bachelor’s degree. While there is no specific degree requirement for ABA therapists, most employers prefer candidates with a degree in psychology, education, or a related field. During your undergraduate studies, you should take courses in behavioral psychology, developmental psychology, and abnormal psychology to gain a better understanding of the field.

Step 2: Gain Experience

After obtaining a bachelor’s degree, the next step is to gain experience in the field. Many ABA therapists start out as behavior technicians or assistants, working under the supervision of a licensed therapist. This allows them to gain practical experience and learn about the techniques and strategies used in ABA therapy. Some employers may also require candidates to have experience working with individuals with behavioral disorders.

Step 3: Obtain a Master’s Degree

While a master’s degree is not always required to become an ABA therapist, it can improve job prospects and salary potential. A master’s degree in ABA or a related field can provide advanced training in behavior analysis and prepare you for licensure as a therapist. It may also qualify you for supervisory roles in the field.

Step 4: Obtain Licensure

To practice as an ABA therapist, you must obtain licensure in your state. Requirements for licensure vary by state, but typically involve completing a certain number of supervised clinical hours and passing an exam. The Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) certification is the most widely recognized certification in the field of ABA therapy and is required for licensure in some states.

Step 5: Apply for Jobs

Once you have obtained licensure, it is time to apply for jobs. ABA therapists work in a variety of settings, including schools, clinics, and private practices. You can search for job openings on job boards or through professional organizations, such as the Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI). It is important to tailor your resume and cover letter to each job you apply for and to highlight your relevant experience and qualifications.


Becoming an ABA therapist is a rewarding career choice that requires dedication and hard work. By obtaining a bachelor’s degree, gaining experience in the field, obtaining a master’s degree, obtaining licensure, and applying for jobs, you can become a successful ABA therapist. With the increasing prevalence of behavioral disorders, the demand for ABA therapists is expected to grow in the coming years, making this an excellent career choice for those interested in special education and helping others.

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