How to become a board certified behavior analyst

Updated April 17, 2017

Behaviour analysts perform basic and applied research on the biological and environmental factors of subjects to determine causes for changes in their behaviour. Applied behaviour analysis enables identification of changes that could be made to improve the outward behaviour problems in individuals. The science has a great impact on children with learning disabilities and behavioural problems in schools, homes and hospital settings. To become a board-certified behaviour analyst you must first obtain a bachelors or masters degree from an accredited higher education institute. The Behavior Analyst Certification Board requires at least 1,500 hours of experience under the supervision of a board-certified behaviour analyst before applying and testing to become certified.

Earn your bachelors degree in sociology and/or psychology at an accredited four-year college or university to prepare you for a career in behaviour analysis. The Behavior Analyst Certification Board requires applicants for Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA) to complete 135 hours of coursework concentrated on the areas pertinent to behaviour analysis. This includes ethics, principles, definitions and procedures as well as gathering and assessing behavioural data.

Gain 1,500 hours experience under independent fieldwork as a behaviour analyst working with multiple non-related clients. 75 of those hours will need to be supervised by a board-certified behaviour analyst in good standing conducted at least once every two weeks during the initial experience period. You will assess clients experiencing behavioural difficulties and plan, implement and oversee the implementation of behaviour analysis programs meant to help clients' behaviour improve. Your supervisor will supply you with feedback as well as document your performance that will assist you in becoming certified. The board encourages multiple supervision at multiple client sites.

Fill out and send in your application for BCaBA certification to the Behavior Analyst Certification Board. The application can be downloaded from their website. Once the board determines you are eligible for examination, you will receive notice with information on taking the exam to become certified.

Study for the examination once you have received notice you are eligible from the Behavior Analyst Certification Board. Subjects covered in the exam to help you prepare are available on the board website. Upon successful completion the exam you will become board certified.

Obtain your masters degree at an accredited graduate school program studying behaviour analysis, psychology and/or sociology. The Behavior Analyst Certification Board requires 225 hours of graduate coursework concentrated on the areas pertinent to behaviour analysis which include ethics, principles, definitions and procedures, gathering and assessing behavioural data as well as discretion. Doctorate degree holders with at least 10 years experience in behaviour analysis-related fields are also eligible for the Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) certification.

Complete at least 1,500 hours of independent fieldwork in behaviour analysis where 75 of those hours were under the supervision of a board-certified behaviour analysis in good standing. The experience required is similar to that of the BCaBA certification. Experience under practicum and intensive practicum at a Behavior Analyst Certification Board-approved university make up the other two categories for gaining experience in behaviour analysis. An applicant can only gain experience under one category at a time.

Apply to take the BCBA certification exam after you have gained your required supervised experience. Once you receive your eligibility approval to take the exam, begin studying based on the subjects covered in the exam. Upon successful completion you will receive board certification as a behaviour analyst.

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About the Author

Melissa Kidd has been a gifted writer from an early age and highly enjoys it. At 19 she landed an entry level corporate position at Timex Corporation. She's been an administrative professional at a variety of companies for 10 years. She attended Central Connecticut State University, and she's a psychology major at Grand Canyon University.