5 Things a Newly Certified Behavior Analyst Should Consider in an Employer
Congrats – you did it! You made it through years of learning, studying and training, followed by many more hours of studying for the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) exam, and then possibly the toughest part… waiting for the results. You’re finally a BCBA!
The real work is just beginning, but now you get to put your ABA therapy experience and skills into action as you embark on your new journey to better the lives of others. That is why your next step is key: choosing the employer that is the best match for you.
What things are important to a BCBA – salary, environment, team structure, career path opportunities?
These companies will interview you, of course, but in order to make it valuable for you, your employer and the clients you work with, your job search should also include thinking about the aspects of an organization and role that are most important to you.
To guide you through the process, we turned to our experienced behavior analysts who have been in your shoes! According to our very own Hopebridge heroes, here are the top five qualities a new BCBA should consider when looking for their first job after passing the exam.
Tips from Experienced BCBAs:
- Think about your surroundings.
Environment and accessibility can vary from job to job. From autism therapy center to hospital, and school to home, BCBAs have a range of settings to choose from during the search. Some BCBAs enjoy the convenience of treating all ABA clients in one place, whereas others see the travel time between clients as a break. Overall atmosphere, materials, equipment, technology, supervision and other environmental factors also affect the therapy sessions, so keep your therapeutic style in mind when choosing your home base. Hopebridge Evansville BCBA Kate Huggins told us about some of the benefits of working in a center: “The availability of resources and collaboration with coworkers are key benefits to working in a clinic setting, in addition to accessibility to all clients on my caseload within one building.”
- Determine the team structure that best suits you and your work.
Do you value a team approach or prefer to work independently? Do you enjoy the “business” side of the job or would you rather focus all your time on therapy progress? Answers to these questions can affect your choice in an employer and overall happiness in your role. For instance, in an autism therapy center or clinic like Hopebridge, you might have collaboration among a team of other BCBAs, professionals in other complementary disciplines like occupational therapy and speech therapy, supports like RBTs and an ABA trainer, and even billing and insurance specialists. Alternatively, there are home health or school options, where you may be the only BCBA or therapist on staff, but could have more flexibility and independence over your caseload. Hopebridge Jeffersonville center’s Kelley Browning spoke to us about some of the characteristics that were important to her: “I was looking for a company that put quality client care over everything else. I also love that I get to work with other BCBAs every day. Sometimes you just get stuck on a particular skill or maladaptive behavior, and being able to talk it through with another BCBA helps so much. The interdisciplinary model that Hopebridge offers is also a huge benefit.”
- It’s not just what you get paid, it’s how you get paid.
Many job candidates – both new and experienced – have compensation on the mind during the application and interview process, but the amount of money paid should not be the only consideration. John C. James from the Hopebridge Louisville South center shared some of his criteria, “Consistency and quality of pay is highly important. The way employers pay BCBAs is not always equal, and new behavior analysts need to decide what is best for them, such as the pros and cons of salary versus contractual work. Whether an employee is compensated via an annual salary, hourly or on a contract basis will drastically affect take-home pay and taxes, as well as can affect other potential benefits and caseload. There are benefits to each side, so educate yourself on each and determine what is best for you.
- The education doesn’t stop at the exam.
Passing the BCBA exam is a huge milestone, but behavior analysts must stay on top of their game, not only for themselves, but for their clients’ success. Consider an employer that values learning. What this looks like can vary, such as opportunities for Continuing Education Units (CEUs), access to webinars and conferences, research and clinical study inclusion, safety training, and mentorship from an internal clinical support team. Hopebridge’s Chelsey Georgoulis from the Louisville South center encourages new behavior analysts to continue learning: “As a BCBA who has been in the field for five years, there are a few key items I would especially recommend to a new BCBA. Important features include ongoing training, CEUs, clinical growth and oversight, and the model used to help supervise RBTs.”
- Leave room for growth.
While we urge new employees to focus on and enjoy the present, it’s only natural (and smart!) to continue dreaming and planning toward the future. Consider this: does your company offer other opportunities beyond your role? If you are the only BCBA at your workplace, how will you grow? Remember growth comes in many forms, sometimes lateral, and sometimes through the expansion of your current position or responsibilities. Jaclyn Chaplin, a BCBA out of Hopebridge Bloomington, sees opportunity in her role. “I love knowing there are endless opportunities to grow at Hopebridge. I can stay in my current position or continue to grow and pursue a regional position in the future. I also feel it is a great benefit to work alongside other disciplines so our clients truly receive all that we can give.”
Make Hopebridge Part of Your BCBA Job Search
If after hearing from our BCBAs and considering your own “wants and needs” list, Hopebridge sounds like a fit for you, reach out to us. We want to help you reach your own career goals while advancing the lives of the children we serve. Visit our Hopebridge job board to review open positions in your area.