Board Certified Behavior Analyst
BCBA stands for Board Certified Behavior Analyst and refers to a graduate-level official certification in the field of behavior analysis. Those with a BCBA certification provide behavior analysis and modification services to a wide range of clients, typically children, in need. They engage in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), which focuses on behavior and how it is affected by the environment as well as its relationship with a child’s learning.
Career Outlook for a BCBA
The good news for those who go through the steps to become a BCBA is that you will likely have plenty of career opportunities to choose from along with the potential to explore diverse working environments and positions within your career. According to the 2019 Burning Glass report provided by the Behavioral Analyst Certification Board, demand for those holding BCBA or BCBA-D certification has increased 1,942% from 2010 to 2018, with California, Massachusetts, Texas, Illinois and Arizona accounting for 53% of the recent demand.
Steps to Become a BCBA
To become a BCBA, applicants must obtain at least a master’s degree in Behavior Analysis, Education or Psychology, provided that the Education and Psychology programs meet the requirements of the BACB. You must also submit a verification that you have been supervised for a certain number of hours by a seasoned professional in your field. Another option to obtain a BCBA certification is to work as a full-time faculty member at a college or university in the department of behavior analysis. Your position as a faculty member must also include a certain level of research and practical experience in order to obtain a BCBA certification. Lastly, you could also obtain a postdoctoral degree in a field relevant to behavioral analysis and then have at least 10 years of practical experience working in the field to earn a BCBA certification.
Day in the Life of a BCBA
A BCBA can have drastically different work days depending on the ages and capabilities of the children who they are working with. They typically observe and analyze children in their school and home environments in order to design an individual treatment plan for the services that they should receive. They take into account any challenges that the child is having with certain inappropriate or troubling behaviors and how they might be affecting the child’s ability to learn at the standard pace.
Given that a BCBA professional has an extensive background in behavior analysis, they are typically in a position to advise other service providers about some of the best practices and most effective methods to improve a child’s overall learning experience. They track the incremental progress of the children who they are assisting and provide updates to parents, educators and other professionals within the school system as to which strategies appear to be working for the child and which areas still require some attention and improvement.
BCBAs may be expected to travel to different school and home settings to service the children on their caseload. They can expect a lot of interaction and collaboration with other educational and healthcare professionals in developing a holistic approach to educating and serving the child’s behavioral and learning needs.
Licensure, Certifications and Continuing Education
There are significant certification requirements involved in becoming a BCBA and maintaining your certification in that field. Currently, there is a two-year cycle for maintenance requirements in terms of BCBA continuing education courses and seminars for certification, and licensing requirements vary by state. Be sure to check with your local state licensing board for the most accurate information. You must attend at least 32 hours of continuing education courses every two years to keep up with your BCBA certification. In addition, at least four hours of coursework must focus on ethical requirements in the field. Many of them are available to take online. You will also have to complete at least eight hours of supervised training in your field to keep your BCBA certification. There are also ethics requirements that all BCBA professionals must adhere to in order to maintain their certification and ability to work in the field.
Information updated July 2019