Top 5 Reasons to Become a Behavior Tech

Exploring job options? Want to make a difference, but not sure where to start?

Consider a position as a behavior technician in one of the fastest-growing fields in healthcare.

If you’re like many people who thrive in a job as a behavior tech, you:

  • want to do something meaningful with your life
  • care about others
  • enjoy helping children and families
  • long for a reliable job with paid training and HUGE growth opportunities

If a career as a behavior tech sounds like the right fit for you, browse our openings, and apply for a job today.

View Behavior Tech Jobs

Selecting an ABA Graduate Program

Graduate school is not something to be entered into lightly. A graduate degree is a big financial investment and requires a great deal of your time for about a 2-year period. It also prepares you for the next stage in your career. Choose your program wisely to set yourself up for success! Here are some important things to consider before you make the big leap:

1)     ONLINE OR IN-PERSON?

Do you want to take your classes online or in-person? If you prefer to take classes in-person, think about commuting time, parking logistics, and be sure to get find out their Covid-cancellation policies. If you want an online experience, inquire about whether the program is synchronous (students attend online class with the professor at a set time), asynchronous (classes can be done on your own time), or a combination of the two. Graduate school will be one or your highest priorities for a couple of years, so find a program with a format that works for your learning style.

2)     PASS RATE

Graduate programs sometimes post their “pass rates,” or the percentage of their graduates who pass the BACB exam. The pass rate is not the be-all end-all, but it’s one indication as to how effectively the program prepares graduates to take the certification exam.

3)     CLASS TIMES

When classes are in-person or synchronous, the course schedule will directly affect the times you are available to work. If you have a set schedule at work, be sure the class times won’t affect your availability. If you’re looking for a job that will help you meet the BACB experience requirements, knowing class times allows you to give potential employers accurate availability.

4)     FIELDWORK: PART OF THE PROGRAM?

In order to sit for the BACB exam, you will need a degree and a certain amount of supervised fieldwork (check the BACB website for the specifics). Some graduate programs include fieldwork supervision as part of their course of study and others don’t. Programs that don’t support fieldwork are considerably cheaper, but students should understand that they will be responsible for finding their own supervisor. This may mean paying a BCBA to provide supervision, which makes the tuition savings less significant. Before choosing a program, take time to become familiar with the BACB fieldwork requirements and understand what the graduate program does and does not provide.

5)     FIELDWORK: WHAT TYPE?

If the program you’re considering includes supervision, find out which type. The BACB allows applicants to do Concentrated Supervised Fieldwork (1,500 hours) or Supervised Fieldwork (2,000 hours), but most universities only support one of these options. Please note that these hours are subject to change per the BACB.

6)     FIELDWORK: SITE

Will the organization you work for be able to fulfill the requirements that the graduate program requires of their field sites? You don’t want to get into a graduate program only to realize it’s not compatible with where you work. Find out if any of your colleagues have gone through the program you’re considering so you can get the scoop on how well the program fits into your job site.

7)     FINANCIAL

Beyond looking at cost-per-credit and total tuition, you should also ask for cost estimates of books, materials, and fees. Keep all relevant costs of the various programs you are considering in a spreadsheet for easy comparison. Also, be sure to ask what scholarships, grants and discounts are available. At LEARN, we value our employees’ desire to pursue higher education. That’s why we’ve partnered with universities across the country to help make education for our employees more affordable and accessible.

Choosing to go to graduate school is a monumental decision that will open a lot of doors for you. Select your program carefully to ensure that it’s a fit for you and a great investment in your career!

Selecting an ABA Graduate Program

Graduate school is not something to be entered into lightly. A graduate degree is a big financial investment and requires a great deal of your time for about a 2-year period. It also prepares you for the next stage in your career. Choose your program wisely to set yourself up for success! Here are some important things to consider before you make the big leap:

1)     ONLINE OR IN-PERSON?

Do you want to take your classes online or in-person? If you prefer to take classes in-person, think about commuting time, parking logistics, and be sure to get find out their Covid-cancellation policies. If you want an online experience, inquire about whether the program is synchronous (students attend online class with the professor at a set time), asynchronous (classes can be done on your own time), or a combination of the two. Graduate school will be one or your highest priorities for a couple of years, so find a program with a format that works for your learning style.

2)     PASS RATE

Graduate programs sometimes post their “pass rates,” or the percentage of their graduates who pass the BACB exam. The pass rate is not the be-all end-all, but it’s one indication as to how effectively the program prepares graduates to take the certification exam.

3)     CLASS TIMES

When classes are in-person or synchronous, the course schedule will directly affect the times you are available to work. If you have a set schedule at work, be sure the class times won’t affect your availability. If you’re looking for a job that will help you meet the BACB experience requirements, knowing class times allows you to give potential employers accurate availability.

4)     FIELDWORK: PART OF THE PROGRAM?

In order to sit for the BACB exam, you will need a degree and a certain amount of supervised fieldwork (check the BACB website for the specifics). Some graduate programs include fieldwork supervision as part of their course of study and others don’t. Programs that don’t support fieldwork are considerably cheaper, but students should understand that they will be responsible for finding their own supervisor. This may mean paying a BCBA to provide supervision, which makes the tuition savings less significant. Before choosing a program, take time to become familiar with the BACB fieldwork requirements and understand what the graduate program does and does not provide.

5)     FIELDWORK: WHAT TYPE?

If the program you’re considering includes supervision, find out which type. The BACB allows applicants to do Concentrated Supervised Fieldwork (1,500 hours) or Supervised Fieldwork (2,000 hours), but most universities only support one of these options. Please note that these hours are subject to change per the BACB.

6)     FIELDWORK: SITE

Will the organization you work for be able to fulfill the requirements that the graduate program requires of their field sites? You don’t want to get into a graduate program only to realize it’s not compatible with where you work. Find out if any of your colleagues have gone through the program you’re considering so you can get the scoop on how well the program fits into your job site.

7)     FINANCIAL

Beyond looking at cost-per-credit and total tuition, you should also ask for cost estimates of books, materials, and fees. Keep all relevant costs of the various programs you are considering in a spreadsheet for easy comparison. Also, be sure to ask what scholarships, grants and discounts are available. At LEARN, we value our employees’ desire to pursue higher education. That’s why we’ve partnered with universities across the country to help make education for our employees more affordable and accessible.

Choosing to go to graduate school is a monumental decision that will open a lot of doors for you. Select your program carefully to ensure that it’s a fit for you and a great investment in your career!

9 Types of People Who Should Apply for an Entry-Level ABA Job

Looking for an entry-level yet meaningful and growth-oriented job? Like many, you may not know about the growing field of applied behavior analysis (ABA), a therapy based on science—and used to help people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) learn and grow. The entry-level position for ABA is called a behavior technician, and most jobs require no prior experience.

What does a behavior tech do? As a behavior tech, you would work one-on-one with children and young adults with autism to help them build skills and become more independent. You would also be part of a team of clinicians and caregivers working to help individuals achieve unique goals and reach their potential.

Are you a good fit for a job in ABA? Read on to see if you recognize yourself in any of these nine descriptions:

  1. You want to make a difference.

    New behavior technicians are often blown away by the progress their clients make. Nothing is more gratifying than knowing that your work leads to positive change in the lives of kids and families.

  2. You love children.

    Many ABA jobs involve working with children. If you love children and enjoy making them smile and seeing their progress, this might be the job for you. In most ABA jobs, your training is provided at no cost, so loving children is the only requirement.

  3. You like variety at work.

    Work as a behavior technician is never ABA positions may be located in any of number of environments, whether in an individual’s home, workplace, school, or community—or in one of our Learning Centers. For instance, you might work with a child at home to build turn-taking skills by playing a game or practice making requests through imaginary or pretend play. Likewise, you might venture to the grocery store with an older child or young adult to practice selecting food and going through the check-out line. Whatever the case, there is no end to the types of skills you may teach, from imitating words to ordering a meal and making change in a restaurant!

  4. You’re interested in special education, psychology, speech and language pathology, occupational therapy, or physical therapy.

    You don’t want to start a degree program until you’re positive it’s the field for you.  Working as a behavior tech gives you excellent experience working directly with a population of children you might encounter in any of the above fields. As a bonus, hiring managers in education and other specialty services love to see an ABA background on an applicant’s resume.

  5. You want to change your field or career.

    ABA training is provided on-the-job. In most cases, you don’t need to come in with any special knowledge or training—only a great attitude and a willingness to learn.

  6. You’re a current or former paraprofessional or instructional aide in a school.

    Some people gravitate to education but realize that working in a classroom is not for them. ABA allows you to work with fewer children more closely in a variety of settings, not just a single classroom or school. For this reason, you have more flexibility over your schedule and can often work part-time or full-time.

  7. You’re independent and enjoy a supportive work environment.

    As a behavior technician in an ABA setting, you typically receive written instructions on what to do, plus regular support from your supervisor, a board certified behavior analyst (BCBA). Most days, however, you also lead teaching sessions on your own, giving you an ideal mix of support and independence.

  8. You want to find meaning in your work.

    There is nothing more fulfilling than supporting a person in gaining independence or helping children find their voice. Behavior technicians do important, meaningful work each and every day, and often experience a strong sense of fulfillment.

  9. You’re curious and enjoy learning—and want a career with growth potential.

    Ongoing learning and problem-solving are essential parts of any ABA career, including a position as a behavior technician. As a behavior tech, you can continue in that capacity or take your career to any number of next levels, starting with a position as a managing behavior technician. From there, with a bachelor’s degree, you could become an assistant behavior analyst—and then work toward your master’s degree, while serving as a clinical fellow. Once you earned a master’s degree, you could become a board certified behavior analyst (BCBA), and work your way to a managing BCBA or even a clinical director. The sky is the limit.

As more people enter the fast-growing field of ABA, either as a behavior technician for the long-run or as a stepping stone to another professional career, ask yourself whether you fit the bill—and, if so, visit our careers page and search “behavior technician” to apply for a job today. 

How to Handle Screen Time With Your Child with Autism

Summer can mean outdoor activities and family vacations, but it can also mean more time spent at home, with parents and caregivers scrambling to come up with a kid-friendly daily agenda, while managing work, running errands, and tending to countless other priorities. It should come as no surprise, then, that screen time is an easy “go-to” activity for families.

If you, like many parents, find your child spending more time in front of a screen than you would like, you probably ask yourself: Will too much screen time be harmful? How can I limit my child’s time on screens?

While research indicates some potential negative side effects for children who have prolonged exposure to screens, let’s be real: in the 21st century, it is nearly impossible to eliminate screens entirely. Still, it’s important to know that young children who spend more than two hours a day in front of screens may face an increased risk for developmental delays in language acquisition and communication skills,1 and that violent and fast-paced content and overall screen time are linked to ADHD-related behavior.

To parents of children with autism, this knowledge can feel daunting, considering that kids with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can have delays in communication and language acquisition, along with deficits in attention. But let’s not forget the tremendous influence we have on our children—and the many tools we can equip them with to manage their own exposure and create healthy habits around screen time. These self-management strategies can help immensely as they grow up and transition to adulthood.

How, exactly, can you foster healthy screen-time practices in your child with ASD? Here, I share four tips that I use in my own home with my son and in my clinical practice:

Create structure and routine

Home is often a less structured environment than school, so screen time can be a “filler” activity when a child doesn’t have anything to do. An easy way to reduce time on screens is to plan out what the day will look like with your child. As you plan, involve your child in the process as much as possible. And know that failing to plan is often a plan to fail—especially for kids with autism, who tend to rely on structure and routines to help them navigate the day.

To establish natural boundaries around screen time, designate time that your child will have access to their devices. This will help your child understand your expectations—and what they need to do before they can access to their electronics. For instance, you might say, “First you need to eat breakfast and shower.  Then you can watch 30 minutes of television.”

Modify the environment

Modifying your child’s environment is another easy way to reduce access to screen time. Removing computers, televisions, and tablets from bedrooms—and making devices available only in common spaces—allows you to monitor your child’s screen time more easily. Holding batteries, chargers, and power cords in a separate location that must be accessed by an adult is another way to limit or monitor exposure. These steps also encourage social interaction, given that your child must interact with you to access their electronics.

Keep in mind, too, that some devices allow you to set time limits, so that after a specified amount of time, the device will restrict access or lock particular screens. This sort of intentional planning will go a long way in creating an environment that sets up your child—and family—for success.

Re-cycle

By this, I don’t mean tossing your devices into your recycling bin, as tempting as that may feel. What I mean is taking toys, activities, video games, DVDs, or any tangible items that your child interacts with—and “cycling” through them time and again.

For example, we store many of our son’s items in boxes and typically leave out only one or two of the boxes, while putting the others away. When he starts to lose interest with the current items, we pack them up and replace them with some of the stored boxes. How does this help?

Restricting access to his old toys makes the items more interesting, given that he hasn’t played with them in a while. Likewise, it prevents us from spending money on new items, saving us money in the long-run, while making the “new” items a good distraction from screens. In this scenario, everyone wins.

Encourage self-monitoring

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, long-term success with screen-time consumption depends largely on your child’s ability to monitor and adjust their own behavior. Each child requires varying degrees of support to self-monitor based on their development, but helping to bring awareness around “how much and what kind of consumption is healthy?” will empower your child to start. What can you do?

While implementing a true self-management protocol should be done under the supervision of a board-certified behavior analyst (BCBA), you can do some simple things to encourage your child’s self-management skills. Start by setting clear expectations around what kind of content is acceptable in your home. If appropriate for your child’s age and development, discuss why certain content is acceptable, while other content is not. Parent controls such as the ESRB game ratings and the Motion Picture Association’s film rating system can help you and your child make informed decisions—and can kickstart discussions on acceptable content. In addition, Common Sense Media publishes reviews of movies, TV shows, apps, games, and even distance learning programs. Written by parents and caregivers themselves, these reviews are incredibly helpful in figuring out appropriate versus inappropriate content—and in generating interesting discussions among families.

While these four steps are not exhaustive, they’re a simple starting point for encouraging “screen-time success” in your home and with your family. If your child receives applied behavior analysis (ABA) services, discuss these strategies with your clinical team so they can help you effectively implement any changes in your child’s treatment plan. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to try out different strategies—and see what works best for you and your child.

For non-screen alternatives to summer fun, read “How to Keep Your Child with Autism Engaged this Summer.”

References