ABA Therapy Certification & Career FAQs
- What is an Applied Behavior Analyst?
- What is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst® (BCBA®) and what are the requirements?
- What is a Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst® (BCaBA®) and what are the requirements?
- What is the difference between a certificate program and certification?
- Is an ABA certificate program or ABA coursework just for people who want to become a BACB certified behavior analyst?
- Can I get my certification once I've completed an approved certificate program?
- Is a BACB certified Behavior Analyst the same as an Autism Specialist or Therapist?
- How much will I earn as a BCBA professional?
- What is the career outlook for a Behavior Analyst / Specialist who specializes in Autism?
- What is the new Registered Behavioral Technician (RBT) Certification?
1. What is an Applied Behavior Analyst?
An Applied Behavior Analyst is someone who has in-depth knowledge of the field and methods of the study of the science of behavior. Behavior analysis services help people learn new behaviors, increase or reduce existing behaviors, and teach individuals when to use specific behaviors in specific instances. The scope of these services ranges from addressing challenging behaviors of an individual person to changing the behavior of an entire organization or community.
Behavior analysts provide services to individuals, families, group homes, schools, mental health agencies, hospitals, industrial and business settings, and other agencies working with individuals who require intensive behavioral training and / or consultation. Training and consultation are performed in the areas of educational and adaptive living strategies, challenging behaviors, and staff management. Special populations such as individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities have been shown to benefit greatly from ABA services. ABA is also frequently used in the field of education from typical students to students with disabilities.
Behavior analysis professionals are strongly recommended to pursue BCBA® certification by the Behavior Analysis Certification Board. This is the industry standard and is nationally and internationally recognized.
2. What is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst® (BCBA®)?
The Board Certified Behavior Analyst is an independent practitioner who also may work as an employee or independent contractor for an organization. The BCBA conducts descriptive and systematic (e.g., analogue) behavioral assessments, including functional analyses, and provides behavior analytic interpretations of the results. The BCBA designs and supervises behavior analytic interventions. The BCBA is able to effectively develop and implement appropriate assessment and intervention methods for use in unfamiliar situations and for a range of cases. The BCBA seeks the consultation of more experienced practitioners when necessary. The BCBA teaches others to carry out ethical and effective behavior analytic interventions based on published research and designs and delivers instruction in behavior analysis. BCBAs supervise the work of Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analysts and others who implement behavior analytic interventions.
The Behavior Analysis Certification Board (BACB) awards this credential to individuals who have met coursework, degree, fieldwork and examination requirements. To become eligible for BCBA certification by the BACB, applicants must meet one of the following three options:
- Option 1 requires an acceptable graduate degree from an accredited university, completion of acceptable graduate coursework in behavior analysis, and a defined period of supervised practical experience to apply for the BCBA examination.
Option 1 Details
- Option 2 requires an acceptable graduate degree, a full-time faculty position in behavior analysis that includes research and teaching, and supervised practical experience to apply for the BCBA examination.
Option 2 Details
- Option 3 requires an acceptable doctoral degree that was conferred at least 10 years ago and at least 10 years’ post-doctoral practical experience to apply for the BCBA examination.
Option 3 Details
3. What is a Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst® (BCaBA®)?
The BCaBA conducts descriptive behavioral assessments and is able to interpret the results and design ethical and effective behavior analytic interventions for clients. The BCaBA designs and oversees interventions in familiar cases (e.g., similar to those encountered during their training) that are consistent with the dimensions of applied behavior analysis. The BCaBA obtains technical direction from a BCBA for unfamiliar situations. The BCaBA is able to teach others to carry out interventions once the BCaBA has demonstrated competency with the procedures involved under the direct supervision of a BCBA. The BCaBA may assist a BCBA with the design and delivery of introductory level instruction in behavior analysis. It is mandatory that each BCaBA practice under the supervision of a BCBA. Governmental entities, third-party insurance plans and others utilizing BCaBAs must require this supervision. The Behavior Analysis Certification Board (BACB) awards this credential to individuals who have met coursework, degree, fieldwork and examination requirements.
The Behavior Analysis Certification Board (BACB) awards this credential to individuals who have met coursework, degree, fieldwork and examination requirements. Requirements for the BCaBA Certification include:
- Degree: BCaBA certification requires a minimum of a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university, completion of approved coursework, and a defined period of supervised practical experience to apply for the BCaBA examination. Applicants must meet all eligibility requirements, apply for the credential, and pass the BCaBA examination to become certified at the BCaBA level.
- Coursework: Coursework must come from a qualifying accredited institution and cover the required content outlined in the BACB’s Fourth Edition Task List and Course Content Allocation documents. Only courses where the applicant was formally enrolled and earned a passing grade (“C” or better for graded courses) are acceptable.
- Experience: Applicants must complete experience that fully complies with all of the current Experience Standards. Applicants should carefully review the experience standards with their supervisor(s) before beginning their experience. Applicants must complete experience that fully complies with all of the current Experience Standards. Applicants should carefully review the experience standards with their supervisor(s) before beginning their experience.
4. What is the difference between a certificate program and certification?
An approved certificate program can provide the coursework necessary to be eligible for certification as a BCBA or BCaBA. A certificate program can also provide education that may be very useful to individuals not pursuing any kind of certification, such as some educators and parents. A certificate program must have the BACB approved sequence of coursework to count toward certification eligibility. Certification by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board is only available for people who already possess a master's or bachelor's degree in a relevant field, completed the required coursework, and who already have, or will be able to obtain, supervised experience in applied behavior analysis.
5. Is an ABA certificate program or ABA coursework just for people who want to become a BACB certified behavior analyst?
No, they are excellent for educators, parents of autistic children, social workers, special education teachers, health and human services professionals and more. Although these individuals may never pursue certification or work directly in the psychology field, board certified behavior analysis courses help them develop their ability to identify and analyze root causes of performance problems and behavioral issues as well as to develop interventions that address these problems in a systematic way. The concepts learned and the skills developed through applied behavior analysis can be applied for the betterment of many fields.
It should be noted that many parents of Autistic children enroll in ABA and ABA Autism certificate programs. Enabling families to access affordable and competent behavior analysts is an urgent problem because this is not an area in which "do-it-yourself" programming is advisable. Often, however, particularly for persons living far away from services, parents will have to assume major responsibility for their children's intervention programs.
6. Can I get my certification once I've completed an approved certificate program?
No, the sequence of courses in an approved program has been approved by the Behavior Analysis Certification Board (BACB) to meet the coursework requirement for certification. However, for full BACB certification, students also have to complete the "mentored or supervised experience" requirement (for which they must make their own arrangements). Some programs will include this supervised fieldwork as a requirement for completion. Finally, students must pass a certification exam administered by BACB. For additional information, please visit http://www.bacb.com.
7. Is a BACB certified Behavior Analyst the same as an Autism Specialist or Therapist?
Behavior Analysis is an approach to human behavior that is not defined by a single diagnostic issue like Autism. There are behavior analysts who work in prevention of violence at the Centers for Disease Control, there are others that consult to Fortune 500 companies on employee motivation and productivity, and still others that train Human Service Animals. None of those BCBAs necessarily have any knowledge, training, or skill in working with people with Autism and yet they may well hold the BCBA credential based on their training and supervision in those other very important areas.
Applied behavior analysis has been the treatment of choice for autistic behavior for the past 30 years. There are several hundred studies published in scientific journals which show the effectiveness of ABA with persons with Autism. Autism diagnoses have risen significantly and the disorder continues to receive extensive publicity. So, many people do mistake a Behavior Analyst as an Autism Specialist.
8. How much will I earn as a BCBA professional?
Behavior Analysts don't yet have a Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) code. However, BCBA jobs are posted under the following occupations that do have SOC codes.
||2015 Median Salary
|Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists
|Counselors, All Other
|Medical and Health Services Managers
|Special Education Teachers
|Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors
9. What is the career outlook for a Behavior Analyst / Specialist who specializes in Autism?
The demand for behavior analysts who specialize in Autism far exceeds the number of persons with the expertise required to provide effective ABA programs. The diagnosis of autism is increasing rapidly. More
than 500,000 individuals under the age of 21 are
currently diagnosed with autism. According to the U.S.
Department of Education, autism is expected to have
a continued growth rate of 10 percent to 17 percent
annually. The Centers for Disease Control estimates
an increase from 1 in 150 to 1 in 110 children have an autism spectrum
disorder. Such dramatic numbers and a shortage of qualified autism specialists create a strong demand for trained professionals.
10. What is the new Registered Behavioral Technician (RBT) Certification?
The Board of Directors of the Behavior Analyst Certification Board® (“BACB®”) has authorized the development of a new professional credentialing program for behavioral technicians, the front-line staff who implement behavior plans. The number of behavioral technicians has grown along with the demand for quality behavior-analytic services. This growth, along with requests to identify and evaluate standards for behavioral technicians by regulatory and funding stakeholders, firmly establishes the need for a new credential. The RBT™ credential will complement the BCBA-D™, BCBA®, and BCaBA® credentials as an entry-level program that reflects the education and training necessary for the duties of a behavioral technician. The implementation of this new credential will take time and new developments will be noted as they are reported by the BACB.