What Types of Certifications are Necessary for an Applied Behavior Analyst?

Individuals interested in pursuing an ABA career often ask what kind of certifications are necessary for an applied behavior analyst. An applied behavior analyst is an educational or psychological professional who evaluates individuals with behavioral issues, examines the impact the environment has on behavior, and employs plans to help improve difficult behaviors. The Behavior Analyst Certification Board offers four certification options: Registered Behavior Technician, Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst, Board Certified Behavior Analyst, and Board Certified Behavior Analyst Doctoral.

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Registered Behavior Technician (RBT)

The Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) is a paraprofessional in the field who engages in the direct application of behavior analytic services. He or she does not design or modify the plans, only completes them under the close supervision of those with higher certifications. Applicants must be at least 18 years old, have a minimum of a high school diploma or equivalent, complete at least 40 hours of training, and pass a criminal background check. They must then take and pass the RBT Competency Assessment and the RBT examination. An RBT must also complete instruction and evaluation in ethics and professional conduct.

Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA)

The BCaBA is an undergraduate-level certification that enables students to implement behavior analysis interventions. To gain the certification, students must complete at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution of higher learning. They must show proof of related coursework and a clear timeframe of supervised practical experience. Applicants must receive a satisfactory score on the BCaBA examination. Individuals who possess the BCaBA certification must work under the direct supervision of professionals certified at the graduate degree level. To maintain the certification, individuals must complete continuing education, participate in confirmed ongoing supervision, and abide by the ethics requirements.

Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA)

The BCBA is a graduate-level certification that enables professionals to work as independent practitioners in the field. These professionals supervise Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analysts, Registered Behavior Technicians, and other individuals who apply behavior analysis interventions. The certification requires a graduate degree in the field from an accredited institution of higher learning, advanced training in behavior analysis, defined amount of time of supervised practical experience or a full-time faculty position in the field, and a satisfactory score on the BCBA examination. To maintain the certification, individuals must complete continuing education and abide by the ethics requirements. Those seeking to provide supervision must finish extra training and continuing education requirements.

Board Certified Behavior Analyst Doctoral (BCBA-D)

The BCBA-D a is doctoral-level certification that provides the same level of certification as the BCBA. Individuals who gain the BCBA-D credential work at the same capacity as those with the BCBA. They supervise the work of Registered Behavior Technicians, Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analysts, and other professionals who employ behavior analysis modifications. The doctoral designation requires individuals to possess a qualifying doctoral degree and an active BCBA certification in satisfactory standing. To maintain the certification, individuals must re-certify, complete continuing education, and abide by the ethics requirements. Those certified at the BCBA-D level who wish to supervise must complete supplementary training and continuing education requirements.

Working in the applied behavior analysis field is ideal for those who want to make a difference in the lives of individuals and groups suffering from various behavioral issues. Understanding what kind of certifications are necessary for an applied behavior analyst is an essential step to entering this rewarding and challenging field.