ABA Therapist Statistics & Demographics In The US

Fun fact - there are more than 33,633 ABA therapists currently employed in the U.S.

steven zauderer
Steven Zauderer
January 31st, 2023

ABA Therapy Statistics & Facts - BCBA Job Outlook

  1. There are over 33,633 ABA therapists currently employed in the U.S.
  2. 85.60% of all ABA therapists are women, and 15.4% are men.
  3. The average age of an ABA therapist is 42 years old.
  4. Most ABA therapists are located in New York, NY and Indianapolis, IN.
  5. ABA therapists are most in-demand in New York, NY.
  6. The average annual salary for ABA therapists is $36,263.
  7. Minneapolis, MN pays the highest annual average salary of $40,715.
  8. ABA therapists have an average starting salary of $30,000.
  9. The top 10% of the highest-paid ABA therapists can earn $43,000 or more.
  10. 76.6% of ABA therapists are White, 10.8% are Hispanic or Latino, and 7.7% are Black or African American.
  11. ABA therapists are predicted to experience more than a 20% job growth rate by 2029, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  12. There are 57,000 board-certified behavior analysts (BCBAs) in the U.S.
  13. In 1987, a study conducted found that 90% of autistic patients had behavioral improvements after ABA, with 47% of children showing no traits that put them at variance with their non-autistic peer group.
  14. In 2005, a nonprofit organization published information on children with autism, which showed that 48% of them had success in normal classrooms when ABA therapy was prescribed at an early age.
  15. According to the US Surgeon General’s autism treatment report, ABA therapy is responsible for 45% of therapies administered to children with autism that are successful in the long term.
  16. According to Swallows and Graupner in 2005, 48% of patients on the spectrum had fast advances in learning and test scores after receiving ABA therapy. They also made better grades and exhibited preferable classroom conduct.
  17. A study by the BACB shows that there was a 1,942% increase in demand for BCBAs between 2010 and 2018.
  18. There was a 1,098% increase in demand for BCaBAs between 2010 and 2018.
  19. The demand for BCBAs increased by 127% and by 184% for BCaBAs from 2017 to 2018.
  20. RBTs make, on average, $50,140 per year or $21.54 per hour. Top companies pay RBTs $50,000 to $60,000 per year.
  21. All ABA therapists levels are expected to see significant job growth in the coming years.
  22. BCBAs make close to $98,000 per year, on average, with top earners earning over $110,000 per year.

How Effective Is ABA Therapy?

Today, we’ll show you the evidence and let it speak for itself.

In 1987, the inventor of Assisted Behavior Analysis therapy, Dr. Ivar Lovaas proved that early intervention and intensive behavior therapy enabled children diagnosed with Autism to succeed.

He found that 90% of children make large gains through ABA therapy (Lovaas, O. I. 55: 3-9).

Lovaas also found that 47% of the children studied in his research were “indistinguishable from their peers” after receiving intensive ABA therapy (Lovaas, O. I. 1987).

Study Results on the Success of ABA Therapy

Several studies on Applied Behavior Analysis report how successful the therapy can be for people with autism.

ABA studies must be as objective as possible to help parents decide whether or not the therapy is right for their child.

The way that it’s applied to every individual child, regardless of the differences, is to ensure that a goal is reached.

In recent years, ABA therapy-related studies continue to show promising results. Though there are always controversial aspects to ABA and the studies that do this, the overall consensus is favorable.

When contentions are made, it’s usually about the methodology of the studies themselves, something intended to be corrected in future studies.

The American Psychiatric Association and the Surgeon General of the US are two bodies that have endorsed the use of ABA.

Many nonprofits and reputable private companies in the medical world have done the same.

ABA Recommendations and More

By definition, ABA is a scientific therapy meant to broaden the knowledge of the behavior of humans. It’s usually administered to people that have disorders like autism but is used for other disorders as well.

In children with autism, things like talking to people, learning, and developing social skills can take more effort to accomplish, which ABA can help with immensely.

The fundamentals for ABA were created in the last generation, the early 1900s more specifically.

At that time, ABA wasn’t called what it is today. Instead, an archaic treatment known as behaviorism was given to patients.

The aim was to get favorable results capable of making people function with their impediments.

However, in comparison to ABA today, behaviorism was more unrefined in reaching an objective in patients and has largely been altered for the better.

Behaviorism as an idea has no direct fundamental ground, also unlike modern-day ABA therapies.

People that are on the spectrum are given help from professional therapists to identify patterns in their behavior and alter the treatment according to what works best for them.

From this, ABA can be described as therapy that focuses on how it relates to improving individuals with autism, and not autism in itself.

ABA couldn’t exist without an objective.

And because of that, medical researchers in the field have studied it for a long time to find out how effective the treatment is.

When looking at ABA’s timeline over the last couple of decades, it shows that treatments have been refitted and improved, usually in small ways, to raise its success rate.

In 2011, research was gathered from over 20 studies from multiple scientific journals, all of them peer-reviewed.

It was learned that kids who went through ABA therapy have successful development in their ability to use language, adapt to acceptable behavior, and withhold aggressive changes in their demeanor.

Panic attacks and bouts of anxiety were reduced or eliminated and overall cognitive function was increased for the better.

  • Behavior analysis has numerous related therapies. They’re all recommended, which is reinforced by a 2012 study that showed kids with autism are advised to have a minimum of 25 weekly hours of ABA therapy sessions. In doing this, obstacles like language interpretation and responding positively to verbal and non-verbal commands will come along.
study that shows autistic kids should get aba therapy

Social skills are where ABA shows tangible good results.

Simple activities such as talking to people, following directions are given by parents and teachers and making new friends are all easier to do for autistic patients undergoing ABA in the recommended session hours.

Read more: ABA Therapy Recommended Hours

A 2007 study showed that autistic patients over time were less likely to experience emotional harm as the therapy improved in targeting younger individuals.

When treatments were longer and more hands-on, improvements in their study habits and learning ability were shown.

Adapting to new behaviors in different social settings among their peers was raised, even when juxtaposed to studies among children with no autism diagnosis.

  • In the state of Maine, the health department there, along with the Department of education, looked into over 100 studies on ABA treatment for people on the spectrum. The research used a methodology to give every study a rating.
  • It was predicated on the assessments made during the therapy sessions. Additionally, the report concluded that ABA was one of only a few prescribed treatments that showed higher than expected standards in patient improvement.

Intervention over a small period has been touted as a method that isn’t effective, but workable depending on the child involved in it.

In 2012, another study showed that three-year-old children with autism had improvements when the ABA therapy began some time earlier, around two years of age.

Cognitive impairment was lessened and the most severe symptoms of their autism, such as self-harm, were greatly subsided.

From this, it’s realized that when younger autistic children receive the proper care that they need, the more likely their autistic symptoms are to disappear when they’re still in the early stages of cognitive development.

Read more: ABA Therapy Horror Stories

Breaking down ABA Therapy

When ABA therapy is subcategorized by treatment procedures, the gauge of success may change based on the medical research looking into the treatment.

Based on research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, some divisions of ABA therapy are much more likely to succeed.

cdc in atlanta study shows aba therapy success rate

DTT is described as Discrete Trial Training. In this method, the therapy is further partitioned into designated sections.

Each section is simplified to make it easier for the child to learn at a pace that’s on par with their abilities.

It includes positive reinforcement, the rewarding of behavior that’s needed to reach a goal. When unwanted behavior is exhibited, no reward is given.

  • DTT is reliant on a function that’s described as the ABC undertaking, abbreviated as Antecedent Behaviors and Consequences.
  • A therapist will assist a child in getting them to become aware of certain behaviors and the outcome that each one brings.
  • In short, it lets a child know the consequences and benefits of the different reactions that they make.

EIBI is Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention. Even while research shows that ABA is good for people in any age group, its ability to improve the behavior in children is noteworthy.

For this reason, EIBI is usually targeted at kids five years of age and younger.

EIBI is divided into parts so that a child can take in knowledge of each section of the desired skill. For example, talking in a social setting helps reduce tantrums and other potentially harmful reactions.

  • In New Zealand, a study was done by the Ministry of Health in 2010. In it, they concluded that EIBI is a great treatment for nearly all autistic kids.
  • The data that led them to this was touted as moderate evidence, but it still shows that ABA therapy can work for the average child.

ESDM is the Early Start Denver Model. With this method, ABA therapy is directed to the youngest of kids aged from one to four years.

Therapy is regimented but based on the composition of the patient’s setting.

However, it also relies on a child’s inherent reactions to activities that they like, such as playing with toys, to lead them toward positive development.

It’s used to further their social and speaking skills.

In 2010, a related study was done involving ESDM. It found that over 40 toddlers on the spectrum gained significant positive advances in their behavior.

IQ levels were enhanced and their most severe autistic symptoms were lowered.

Read More: Autism & Anger

Success Stories & Great Results Of Applied Behavior Analysis

Below are some success stories involving parents with autistic children who worked with the best ABA therapy companies to help their children.

1. A mother found out that two of her children were autistic at the ages of two and five.

Before their diagnosis, she had suspected an impairment due to their inability to speak, and early adaptation to learning new words.

The youngest had the most difficulty in speaking relative to what other kids in his age group would know. Its symptoms increased to the point where only the mother could understand what their son was saying.

After having both children diagnosed and prescribed ABA therapy by a local doctor, they began treatment shortly after.

The issues related to each of their cases were assessed. As part of their ABA, both boys underwent verbal behavior treatment.

It involved parental coaching and other forms of slow but steady progress, including a 20-hour average weekly session period.

After some months had passed, both boys could speak and talk in complete sentences and articulate their thoughts.

Their behavioral patterns eventually were on par with their peer group, and social skills were raised.

2. Another mother and father with an autistic child were diagnosed with autism through their doctor.

In distress over the outlook on their child’s future, the parents decided to do all that was possible to get their son the help that he desperately needed.

However, knowing who to contact and reach out to was a problem.

Eventually, they decided to ask a doctor in person while giving their child a physical checkup.

The doctor gave them info on recommended therapists to check out.

The therapist that was best for this son, who was four at the time, specialized in EIBI intervention.

After several months had passed, their son’s aggression had slowed, it became easier for them to feed him healthy foods, and better behavior in his pre-K classes was noted.

3. The third story involves a three-year-old girl.

In communication with several ABA therapists, the parents learned that the early stages of development were vital to reducing their autistic symptoms.

After finding a certified therapist they felt was right for their daughter, the goal was to normalize her spectrum, as her behavior was obstructing their efforts to communicate with her.

Her posture when walking was clumsy and her vocabulary limited.

When saying her name, she often wouldn’t respond at all.

Fearing their daughter was behind her peers, therapy began with over 20 hours of weekly sessions, first at a clinic, then at home.

The programs provided to her began to pay off as her response to her name and talking rapidly advanced.

Her reading comprehension skyrocketed to a level that was exceeded by her brother of the same age, and her friends.


steven zauderer

CEO of CrossRiverTherapy - a national ABA therapy company based in the USA.

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