Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Certification and Testing Requirements

Certification is not required of all applied behavior analysis professionals. However, some individuals such as teachers of autistic children, might be required to hold behavior analysis certification. Learn about testing and requirements for certification.

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Essential Information

Program Levels Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst Board Certified Behavior Analyst
Field(s) of Study Behavior analysis Behavior analysis
Prerequisites Bachelor's degree (180 hours of coursework) and 1000 hours fieldwork -Master's degree (270 hours of graduate coursework) and 1500 hours supervised fieldwork
-Doctorate with teaching experience or 10 years in the field
Program Length 4 years 2 years

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

The Behavior Analyst Certification Board offers Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) and Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA) credentials. After earning initial certification, certified behavior analysis professionals must maintain certification by completing continuing education credits and by demonstrating ethics and professionalism.

Board Certified Behavior Analyst

Board certified behavior analysts conduct behavioral assessments and provide analytic interpretations of those behaviors. Eligibility to sit for the BCBA exam requires a master's degree and at least 1,500 hours of supervised work experience. Students can fulfill training requirements through 270 hours of graduate-level courses in areas such as behavioral assessment, ethical considerations, intervention strategies, and experimental evaluation of interventions or through a full-time teaching position that includes teaching basic principles of behavior analysis.

Applicants who earned a doctoral degree in behavior analysis, psychology, or education within the ten years prior to applying for ABA certification can submit their doctoral credentials. They'll also need at least ten years of accrued postdoctoral experience in behavior analysis, in lieu of a teaching position or graduate studies.

Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst

Under supervision of BCBAs, board certified assistant behavior analysts conduct behavioral assessments and interpret the results, working on cases similar to others they've encountered. Eligibility for the BCaBA exam includes earning at least a bachelor's degree, acquiring 180 classroom hours in the same subjects as BCBAs. BCaBA applicants must complete 1,000 hours of fieldwork.

Testing Requirements

Tests for both the BCBA and BCaBA are conducted through third-party testing centers. Multiple-choice test questions on the electronic exam cover assessing patients and implementing behavioral modification interventions. The content of the two certification exams is similar, with the BCaBA exam including fewer questions, reflecting the more limited scope of practice for certified behavior analysis assistants.

Becoming a board certified behavior analyst requires certification through obtaining a bachelor's degree, 1500 hours of supervised fieldwork, 270 hours of graduate coursework, and passing tests for the BCBA and BCaBA.

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