Washington was the 38th state to enact autism insurance reform laws requiring private insurers to cover autism treatment when deemed medically necessary, but the state established a new precedent that same year by being the first to do so through litigation rather than strictly through legislation.
In a unanimous decision, the state Supreme Court ruled that private insurers operating in the state could no longer exclude medically necessary mental health and autism therapy, including applied behavior analysis on the list of interventions alongside occupational, physical and speech therapy. The ruling has not only improved access to affordable ABA therapy for families that might not otherwise be able to afford it, but it has also created new opportunities for independent practitioners entering the field and for private practices looking to expand.
Washington’s population of autistic children has been growing steadily over the past 15 years. Early intervention has helped ensure children with autism spectrum disorder are being diagnosed earlier and more accurately. In 1999, Washington schools accommodated 1,684 students diagnosed with autism, but by 2015 that number had increased to 11,626. The unprecedented demand for ABA therapy that has resulted from the increase in ASD diagnoses has created hundreds of new salaried positions in school districts throughout Washington. (US Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs, 2015)
Experienced board-certified behavior analysts (BCBA®s) in Washington can earn salaries as high as $111,030 a year, according to 2021 statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Salaries for Experienced BCBA®s in the Largest Metropolitan areas of Washington
The range of salaries for board-certified behavior analysts with ten years of experience in the field are shown below (median to top 10% – current as of May, 2021):
- 50th: $111,030
- 75th: $124,490
- 90th: $131,210
Starting Salaries for BCBA®s in the Largest Metropolitan areas of Washington
The most highly paid BCBA®s in Washington who lack job experience in the field of behavior analysis can command salaries that exceed the median salary among highly experienced BCBA®s in the state. Salary data shown below for entry-level ABAs is current as of May 2021 (10th percentile to median):
- 10th: $56,730
- 25th: $96,200
- 50th: $111,030
2021 US Bureau of Labor Statistics salary and employment figures for Psychologists, All Other reflect national data, not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed January 2023.