What Is an In-Home ABA Therapist?

Applied behavior analysis (ABA), long considered the gold standard of therapy for children and adolescents with autism, isn’t just relegated to the center anymore.

Today’s behavior analysts are taking this traditionally facility-based therapy on the road and into the home, much to the delight of clients and their families.

The mobile ABA therapist is the new hero in autism care, bringing ABA therapy to the client and redefining the face of ABA in the process. It’s a new day for ABA therapy, and in-home ABA therapists are leading the charge.

Have ABA Therapy, Will Travel: The Rise of Mobile ABA Therapy

Mobile ABA therapy, also recently referred to as home-based or in-home ABA therapy, is the newest offshoot of the ABA profession.

While convenience is the first benefit that comes to mind, mobile ABA therapy actually has a number of other outstanding benefits.

Providing ABA therapy in the home can put many clients at ease, offering them a sense of security and well-being that make them more receptive to learning. Just leaving home can be quite stressful for some clients with autism, making the success of the treatment dependent upon whether the child can calm down sufficiently and focus on learning. Conducting ABA therapy in the right environment often helps children relax and better respond to therapy.

By brining ABA therapy into the home, clients are able to learn and develop the skills being taught right where those skills are going to be used every day. For example, typical ABA therapies are focused on toilet training, self-care, eating, etc.

Because ABA therapy is conducted multiple times per week, it can be difficult for parents or caregivers to maintain a consistent schedule, particularly when there are multiple children in the house. Mobile ABA therapy ensures that a consistent therapy schedule is achieved while accommodating the busy schedule most families have.

Because ABA therapy is most successful when parents and caregivers are engaged in the process, home-based ABA therapy allows family members to participate during the sessions while allowing the ABA therapist to get a better understanding of family dynamics.

Providing ABA therapy at home also allows many of a child’s natural behaviors to come to light, behaviors that might not otherwise be present in an unfamiliar environment. In-home ABA therapy allows ABAs to identify problems as they occur. For example, if the therapist is teaching bathing techniques and a problem with the child’s environment arises, the problem can be immediately addressed.

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What is the Difference Between an ABA Therapist and a Mobile ABA Therapist?

Very little! Both ABA therapists and mobile ABA therapists provide the same services using the same, proven ABA therapy techniques. Mobile ABA therapists may perform services in homes and in schools, although they may also work out of a center at times.

Unlike center-based ABA therapists, however, mobile therapists may use slightly different techniques focused on the unique challenges of the home environment. They must bring all paperwork and items used in therapy with them from one job to the next, and they must account for travel time to ensure they remain on schedule. While center-based and mobile ABA therapists earn similar salaries, mobile ABA therapists are also often paid mileage, which covers the cost of gas, tolls, and vehicle wear and tear.

How to Become an ABA Therapist

ABA therapists (mobile or center-based) must earn a minimum of a master’s degree in behavior analysis, education, or psychology or complete a post-graduate verified course sequence to earn certification and/or licensure.

In 30 states, ABA therapists must be state licensed. Find more information on state licensing requirements here.

ABA therapists may be nationally certified as Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) practitioners through the Behavior Analyst Certification Board. While BCBA certification is usually an optional endeavor, in some states it’s a requirement for state licensure. In other states, earning the BCBA credential qualifies candidates for state licensure.

Who Else Can Provide Mobile ABA Therapy?

In addition to credentialed ABA therapists, ABA therapy may be performed by the following BACB credentialed professionals:

  • Registered Behavior Technician (RBT): High school-level paraprofessional who provides ABA therapy under the close supervision of a BCBA, BCaBA, or FL-CBA
  • Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA): A bachelor’s-level professional in behavior analysis

More information on achieving these credentials can be found here.

Salaries for ABA Mobile Therapists

While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not maintain behavior analysis-specific salary statistics, the following occupations provide insight into what these professionals earn. The BLS highlights what these professionals earned at the 25th, 50th, 75th, and 90th percentiles, as of 2021:

  • Counselors, all others: $37,060, $45,160, $58,090, $76,780
  • Therapists, all others: $46,980, $59,500, $77,830, $98,490
  • Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors: $38,520, $48,520, $61,660, $77,980

Recent job postings also provide a closer look at what mobile ABA therapists earn, and where (Note: All job postings specifically indicate home-based work):

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2021 US Bureau of Labor Statistics salary and employment figures for Counselors, All Other; Therapists, All Other; and Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors reflect national data, not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed December 2022.