Is Being a BCBA Worth It: Meet Madeline Smith

By Brad Fenton | 29 March, 2024
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In order for you to get to know the Abacus Therapies team closer, understand our values and motivations, this time we are bringing you an interview with one of our Board Certified Behavior Analysts Madeline Smith, our lead BCBA in North Carolina.

Madeline’s job as a supervisor at Abacus Therapies involves creating individualized goals for children, supervising therapists, and working alongside parents and other members of the clients team by providing ongoing training and support. We had a small conversation about what it’s like to be a BCBA and help children on the spectrum, and what motivates her most.

Read on!

Why did you want to become a BCBA?

I have always had a passion for helping others, specifically children. In highschool I volunteered at a preschool for children with special needs and that’s when my passion for this field began to grow. I went to Auburn University for undergrad (War Eagle!) and received my Bachelors in Rehabilitation and Disability Studies. This allowed me to volunteer at many different organizations that provided services and resources to people with special needs. I absolutely fell in love with the people, providers and community surrounding these organizations. 

For my last practicum in college I had an opportunity to work as a paraprofessional for kids with Autism. At this point, I was pretty sure I was going to continue my education and become an Occupational Therapist, but something didn’t feel quite right. I knew that I absolutely loved behavior, specifically the science behind it and I loved being able to watch children’s confidence grow as they acquired new skills. I was keen on exploring the subject and that’s when I learned about Behavioral Analysis

After doing some more detailed research, I knew this was exactly what I wanted to spend the rest of my life doing! Helping young children feel loved, accepted, and teaching valuable skills that will help them grow into independent individuals is something I will always cherish. 

How did you become a BCBA?

Once I decided this was the career I wanted to pursue, I immediately applied for graduate school and got my masters in Applied Behavior Analysis at Simmons University.

While going to school, I worked full time as an RBT in a clinic setting. I had the most dedicated supervisors and colleagues and it was such an incredible experience to work with like-minded people. We all had the same goal, to make a positive impact on these kiddos’ lives. 

Once I graduated and accumulated all my hours I was able to sit for my board exam. After passing, I was officially certified and was on my way to start my new career as a BCBA!

What is it like to be a BCBA?  What is the day-to-day like for a BCBA?

Being a BCBA is so many things, it’s hard to find the words. It’s rewarding, challenging, heart warming, silly, empowering, and I feel immense love for the field and people within it! 

One of the things I love most about this job is that no day is the same. Each morning when I wake up and head to work, I never know what the day will bring, but each day I can guarantee at least 3 things will happen: 

  1. There will be laughter. Lots of it.  
  2. I will teach/educate others in a meaningful way.
  3. I will be challenged.

Is being a BCBA worth it? What are the biggest benefits? 

Yes, completely. 

It is not always easy, of course. There are days I feel physically and emotionally drained. However, knowing I am creating a safe space for children to grow, feel their emotions, try new experiences, and learn skills that will help them be the most authentic version of themself will always be worth it. 

The kids, their families, my amazing colleagues and being a part of the most compassionate and accepting community is by far the biggest benefit of being a BCBA. 


We hope you liked meeting another one of our BCBA team members. If you have some questions about ABA therapy, what it would look like in your situation, or you would like to meet us, feel free to reach out via phone, email, or text!