Read our Q&A with Tiffany Bellina, Behavior Analyst and Director, about her career experience working in the field of Applied Behavior Analysis.
Q: For those of us unfamiliar with ABA, would you mind explaining it?
A: Behavior analysis is a scientifically validated approach to understanding how behavior is learned or affected by the environment. Applied behavior analysis (ABA) systematically uses the science of behavior to solve socially significant behavior problems. It has been shown that consistent ABA intervention can significantly improve various skills such as: communication, academic skills, hygiene, grooming, domestic skills, social skills, executive functioning skills, and job competence. Consistent ABA intervention can also effectively decrease challenging behavior such as aggression or self-injury or behavioral excesses of concern such as repetitive speech.
Q: How did you come to work in the ABA field?
A: 10 years ago, I was working at a residential program when a friend of mine reached out to me to about an ABA Therapist position at Behavioral Concepts. She knew I had experience working with people with developmental disabilities and that I had an interest in working with children. After she told me about the job, I figured I should apply. The rest is history.
Q: Did you have prior experience working in Applied Behavior Analysis?
A: I did not have experience specific to ABA and was not sure what to expect. BCI provided me with comprehensive training.
Q: What did you find most rewarding about working directly with children as an ABA Therapist?
A: It was extremely rewarding to know you were helping children to become more independent by developing critical skills such as social, communication, and daily living skills.
Q: Can you give me an example of a time that you were able to make a difference in a child’s life?
A: I had a non-verbal client whose parents told me that he likely would never speak. Despite incredible challenges, a year later he was talking in multiple word utterances.
Q: What advice would you give to someone who is interested in the field of ABA?
A: It is a great career. Beyond the intangible rewards such as the satisfaction of seeing your client succeed, an ABA therapist at BCI can make between $20-$23 dollars an hour depending on their educational level. It is a great job for anyone who enjoys working with children and has an interest in special needs. ABA is a great career path for anyone interested or majoring in Human Services, Psychology, Education, or related degree paths.
Q: If someone decides to become an ABA therapist is there formal education required?
A: Some college coursework is required to become an ABA therapist.
Q: What could a potential employee expect in their role as an ABA therapist?
A: You’ll work one-to-one with clients under the supervision of a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). You’ll implement a specific treatment plan that addresses the child’s behavioral management, activities of daily living, social skills, and community skills. You’ll work in a variety of environments including a center, a child’s home, and in the community.
Q: How did you become a BCBA?
A: As much as I loved being an ABA therapist, I knew I wanted to do more. I decided to go back to school to pursue my master’s degree to become a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). On my own, I identified and completed an online program and went on to become a BCBA, then a Licensed Behavior Analyst in Massachusetts.
Q: Knowing you are involved with BCI’s college partnerships and provide supervision to students in Bay Path’s Master’s program in ABA, would you mind telling me about the onside graduate program?
A: Sure! After I graduated, BCI developed a partnership with Bay Path University to provide on-site graduate classes to full time staff working as ABA Therapists where they earn a master’s degree in Applied Behavior Analysis. BCI pays for 60% of the tuition costs which makes it affordable for a lot of people. Upon graduating, BCI hires you as a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst with a competitive salary and an extended benefits package that boasts many options including tuition reimbursement.
Q: Do you have anything else you would like to share with potential candidates?
A: I have been very fortunate to gain my knowledge and experience from a company that has helped me grow professionally in a career that has brought such joy to my life. I would highly encourage anyone interested in this field to learn more by visiting our website at www.bciaba.com/careers/become-an-aba.