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Mar 3, 2016
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I am highly considering applying to the Master of Arts in Applied Behavioral Analysis program at River University. There isn't a thesis required, only the test to gain certification (the program is BACB certified). There is no GRE requirement, and no specific psychology prerequisites for this particular program. I have taken psychology courses during my undergrad though, so I am not walking into the program blindly. My question is whether this program seems worth it to those who are actually in the field. I was told that I would earn $50-100 an hour as an ABA at entry level. My other options are to eventually open up my own practice or work for a company. In my area (NJ) there is supposedly a very big need for ABA's at this time. My concern is the stress they put on the autism spectrum disorder. I have no issue learning about it and working with children who have this disorder. However, I would prefer to focus my career on psychology as well as health (more than likely public health). I am not sure if there is really an opening for this combination. Which is why I was hoping to hear from those who have experience in the field, and know what is out there (not just posted on job boards). I have until April 1st to submit my application, so I have to decide fast. Any help is appreciated very much.

Here is the program if you would like a better idea: http://www.rider.edu/academics/coll...iences/science-programs/ma-applied-psychology



When you say "I would prefer to focus my career on psychology as well as health" I'm not sure exactly what you mean. Can you elaborate?

The majority of BCBAs work predominantly with developmental and childhood behavioral disorders. A few find a niche working with other populations. There is a definite need and as more payers are reimbursing for ABA, the demand will be there. But you have to be comfortable being something of a one-trick pony. If your interests are broader you might find the scope of the work a little limiting.


Regional Clinical Officer, Centene Corporation
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Apr 6, 2007
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However, I would prefer to focus my career on psychology as well as health (more than likely public health).


This statement seems inconsistent with what this degree would prepare you to do.
Aug 31, 2011
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I am a BCBA-D as well as a licensed psychologist, and am in instructor in an approved ABA graduate program. I will concur with the others regarding the scope of ABA masters training- you won't get much access to general psychology stuff in the ABA courses. There might be some in the other coursework, but not anything that will prepare you specifically for that type of work (e.g won't meet licensure requirements). The incredibly huge need for ABA professionals is almost exclusively in the area of autism spectrum disorder, particularly related to home based intensive behavioral treatment. I get to do a little non-ASD stuff in school consultation, and have also worked in brain injury settings and adult residential with non-ASD clients, but that stuff is not the norm. Definitely not the norm for early career BCBAs- my trains an experience in those areas came during/as a result of my doctoral and post-doc training. Basically, if you're not interested in working with ASD primarily, an ABA masters program will be pretty limiting.

While salaries differ from region to region, you're numbers seem very high to me. My experience in some high COL states (Southern New England; CA) is that BCBAs start around 50-60k per year salary, with generally lower ranges if you work exclusively in a school setting. I've seen the 50+ per hour ONLY in Senior administrative roles, with the higher end of your range for owners (after significant capital investment). That said, starting salaries for BCBAs are very good and much better than for other clinical MA degrees.

In the OP you exressed concern regarding ABA therapies and "the stress they put on the autism spectrum." I'm not certain what you mean by this. The research is overwhelmingly supportive of ABA for ASD- almost exclusively- with gains in quality of life for the client and their families.
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