How do I get an Applied Behavior Analysis Certification?

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  • Written By: A. Rohlandt
  • Edited By: Susan Barwick
  • Last Modified Date: 13 November 2019
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In order to qualify for an applied behavior analysis certification, you will need to pass the Behavior Analyst Certification Board® (BACB®) examination. There are two certification options for those who want to enter the field of applied behavior analysis: Board Certified Behavior Analyst® (BCBA®) and Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst® (BCaBA®). The minimum educational requirement for applied behavior analysis certification is a bachelor's degree from an accredited university. When applying for certification, you should have completed a certain number of classroom hours in related subjects and have relevant experience in the field.

If you would like to apply for the BCBA® examination, you should have a bachelor's degree or a master's degree from a fully or provisionally accredited American or Canadian university. Applicants from other countries are also welcome to seek applied behavior analysis certification, provided they studied at a university with a similar standard of education. Applicants for the BCaBA® certification require a bachelor's degree, although not as much course work is required.

In order to qualify for the BCBA® examination, a candidate should have at least 225 graduate level classroom hours in the relevant areas. The number of classroom hours required in each area varies from 15 hours to 45 hours, depending on the area studied. If you want to qualify for BCaBA® certification, you will need at least 135 classroom hours, each area of study requiring between 10 and 40 hours.


Three categories of practical experience are also required: independent fieldwork, a practicum, and an intensive practicum. In order to qualify for the BCBA® examination, an applicant needs 1,500 supervised hours in independent fieldwork, including a minimum of 10 and a maximum of 30 hours per week, for three weeks each month. The level of supervision required is about 5%, and applicants should be supervised at least once in a two-week period. BCaBA® certification applicants need 1,000 independent fieldwork hours with the same number of hours per week and the same supervisory requirements as BCBA® applicants.

Those applying for BCBA® certification can also use teaching experience, a doctoral degree, or a BACB® review to qualify for the examination. Applicants using teaching experience must have at least one year's full-time experience at an accredited college or university. Those who apply based on a doctoral degree need at least 10 years post-doctorate experience in the field of applied behavior analysis. When requesting a BACB® review, the applicant will need a doctorate and ten years experience. The experience listed should be verified by at least three other BCBAs.

You should participate in the annual renewal and recertification processes once you have acquired applied behavior analysis certification. The yearly renewals take place in the first and second year after certification, require payment of a fee, and submission of an annual renewal form. Recertification commences in the third year after certification and requires 36 hours of additional education for BCBAs and 24 hours for BCaBAs.


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