Career Development

How To Become a Behavioral Aide: Step-by-Step Guide

Learn about the steps important to pursuing a career as a behavioral aide, including education, skills, salary and more.

A behavioral aide is a professional who works with individuals who have developmental disabilities or mental health disorders. As a behavioral aide, you would be responsible for helping your clients manage their behaviors, providing support and assistance with activities of daily living, and promoting positive social interactions. If you are interested in helping others and have a passion for working with people with special needs, becoming a behavioral aide may be the perfect career for you. In this article, we will discuss what a behavioral aide does, the average salary of a behavioral aide, and the steps you can take to become one.

What Does a Behavioral Aide Do?

A behavioral aide is a professional who works with children or adults who have been diagnosed with a mental illness, developmental disability or other condition that affects their behavior. Behavioral aides typically work in schools, hospitals, residential treatment facilities or group homes.

Some of the duties of a behavioral aide include:

  • Assisting patients with daily living activities such as eating, dressing and bathing
  • Helping patients manage their medications
  • Participating in therapy sessions and providing support to patients
  • Monitoring patients’ behaviors and keeping track of any changes
  • Documenting patient progress and writing reports
  • Providing emotional support to patients and their families
  • Advocating for patients’ rights
  • Working with other professionals to develop individualized treatment plans

Behavioral Aide Salary and Job Outlook

The average salary for a behavioral aide is $38,160.47 per year. However, salaries can vary based on experience, education, location, and other factors.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the demand for behavioral aides will grow faster than average in the next decade. This is due to an increased awareness of mental health issues and the need for more effective treatments. Behavioral aides play an important role in assisting individuals with mental health issues by providing support and guidance.

How to Become a Behavioral Aide

Here are several steps you should take to become a behavioral aide.

1. Earn a high school diploma or equivalent

You will need to have a high school diploma or equivalent to enroll in an ABA training program. If you are close to graduation, consider taking advanced placement classes in math and science to boost your application for graduate programs. Many graduate programs accept students with a bachelor’s degree as well.

2. Complete a training program in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)

The next step in becoming a behavioral aide is to complete an ABA training program. These programs are designed to teach students the principles of behavior analysis and how to apply them practically. Students learn about topics such as positive reinforcement, stimulus control and social skills training.

The length of these programs varies depending on whether you attend a college or university, pursue an online degree or take a certificate course. Undergraduate degrees typically last four years, while graduate degrees last two to three years. Certificate courses usually take one year to complete.

3. Become certified as a Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA)

Once you complete your training, you can pursue certification as a BCaBA. The Board of Clinical Psychology Admissions to Practice (BCPAP) is the body that grants this credential. To become certified, you must pass an examination and have at least two years of experience in ABA.

The BCPAP also offers a Certified Associate Behavior Analyst (CABa) credential for those with less than two years of experience in ABA. This credential requires passing an exam but does not require any experience in ABA.

4. Obtain state licensure if required by your state

If your state requires behavioral aides to be licensed, you will need to meet its specific requirements. Some states require prospective behavioral aides to complete an internship or a particular number of classroom observation hours before they can apply for licensure. Check with your state’s department of education or human services to learn about the licensure requirements in your area.

5. Gain experience working with children or adults with developmental disabilities

As you pursue your career as a behavioral aide, consider gaining experience in the field. You can do this by volunteering or working part time at an ABA facility to build your skills and network. Research local organizations that provide ABA services and reach out to their staff members about opportunities for volunteers or paid positions.

6. Develop strong communication and interpersonal skills

As a behavioral aide, you may work with individuals who have challenging behaviors. Therefore, it is important to develop strong communication and interpersonal skills so that you can effectively communicate your expectations and instructions to the individual. You also need to be able to interact with others in the home or facility where you work to ensure that everyone is comfortable and satisfied.

7. Stay up to date on changes in the field of ABA

As a behavioral aide, you should always be aware of new developments in the field. For example, research and technology may lead to changes in how ABA is used with people who have developmental disabilities. You should also stay up to date on state and federal regulations that affect your work as a behavioral aide.

You can learn about these updates by reading professional journals or attending conferences and workshops offered by your training program or board certification organization.


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