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Do I Have to Take an Exam to Become an ABA?

Applied behavior analysis is a type of treatment widely used today for behavior issues, and many aspiring applied behavior analysts (ABAs) wonder if they have to take an exam to become an ABA. There are various levels an ABA therapist can achieve, and the type of exam required is determined by the level the individual chooses. Here is an overview of the different types of ABA titles and careers available to interested candidates.

Steps to Become an ABA Therapist

The first step towards becoming an ABA therapist is earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology, social work or sociology. Finding an internship is a beneficial way for an undergraduate student to obtain experience working with clients under the supervision of an ABA therapist. Earning the bachelor’s degree prepares candidates for entry-level positions in this field as ABA technicians.

Aspiring ABA therapists must complete a master’s degree in behavior analysis, which takes an additional two years to finish. The student completes coursework and must do a thesis. The student must research a topic related to ABA and choose which topic they wish to use for the thesis. The research and thesis are generally done in the final year of the graduate program.

Most states require ABA therapists be licensed, which includes certain requirements. One requirement is that the therapist must complete from 1,000 to 1,500 hours of clinical work under the supervision of a licensed ABA therapist. Some students to do fieldwork prior to completing the clinical work. Once the student has completed all requirements for the graduate degree, he or she must obtain certification through the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB).

Certification Eligibility

Before an aspiring ABA therapist can obtain board certification, the individual must meet the eligibility requirements set by the BACB. The BACB mandates that candidates must meet one of these three requirements to be eligible to take the certification exam.

• Must have at least a master’s degree and be a faculty member at an accredited school

• Must have at least master’s degree and have completed fieldwork experience

• Must have a doctoral degree and at least ten years of experience working in this field

To work as a certified ABA therapist, an individual must have both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree.

What Certifications are Required?

The type of certification required depends on the career goals of the individual. Here are some possible choices the BACB offers.

• Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) – Applicants who are at least 18 years old, have a high school diploma or equivalent, pass a criminal background check, and complete 40 hours of training can take the RBT exam once they’ve passed the RBT competency exam. Passing the exam qualifies them to work as a Registered Behavior Technician™ under the supervision of a licensed ABA therapist.

• Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA) – Applicants with a bachelor’s degree who have completed supervised practical experience in ABA therapy can take the BCaBA® certification exam. Once they pass the exam, they can work under the supervision of a licensed ABA therapist.

• Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) – Applicants with a master’s degree in behavior analysis who meet one of the three eligibility requirements mentioned above can take the BCBA certification exam and work as a licensed and Board Certified Behavior Analyst®.

• Board Certified Behavior Analyst – Doctoral (BCBA-D™) – Individuals with a doctoral degree in behavior analysis can take the BCBA-D certification exam. Upon becoming certified, this individual may teach applied behavior analysis and supervise the work of ABA technicians and assistants.

Related Resource: 10 Best Online ABA Master’s Degree Programs

Working as an ABA therapists can offer a lucrative career as well as one that’s extremely satisfying. Having the ability to work with and help patients suffering from various issues can be rewarding in many ways, and it can be made possible by passing an exam and becoming an ABA.