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. Requirements for the BCBA Certification include:
- A bachelor's and a master's degree in behavior analysis or related fields and approved by the BACB from a fully accredited institution of higher learning. (see list of acceptable degrees )
- 270 classroom hours (online or campus) of graduate level instruction.
- 1500 hours of supervised independent fieldwork in behavior analysis. Some BCBA preparation programs include both the approved coursework and supervised practicum.
- Passing score on the BCBA exam.
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:
- A bachelor's degree that was conferred in behavior analysis or related fields and approved by the BACB from a fully accredited
institution of higher education. (see list of acceptable degrees )
- 135 classroom hours (online or campus) of graduate level instruction.
- 1000 hours of supervised independent fieldwork in behavior analysis. Some BCaBA preparation programs include both the approved coursework and supervised practicum.
- Passing score on the BCaBA exam.
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?
That really depends on your expertise, experience, education and position. Here are some examples of BCBA certified professionals and their median salaries.
BCBA Certified Professional