A Board Certified Behavior Analyst is behavioral practitioner who conducts behavioral tests, creates, and administers behavioral plans and follows a strict ethical code. A BCBA also teaches and manages others in plan implementation. BCBAs adhere to the principles of applied behavior analysis (ABA) when providing services. ABA is a science in which data is collected about a particular behavior, and the environment the behavior occurs in. This data is analyzed to determine changes that can be made to the environment that will create a desired effect in terms of a behavior either increasing or decreasing. A BCBA is a scientist, someone who specializes in studying, understanding, and changing behaviors.
BCBAs are certified through a coast-to-coast organization that establishes certifying criteria for BCBAs, and is a board that ensures that ethical standards are followed by BCBAs. The Behavior Analyst Certification Board or BACB is the certifying board for BCBAs. The BACB also certifies board certified assistant behavior analysts, which is a person who is a bachelor’s level specialist, this person is usually under the supervision of a BCBA. The BACB also certifies an entry level specialist which is known as a registered behavior technician (RBT). A RBT is a specialist who implements behavior plans under the supervision of a BCBA or BCaBA, this person however does not create behavior plans or interventions.
The BACB is making to changes to the certification process for BCBAs. The current requirements to become a BCBA include possession of a master’s degree in a mental health, behavioral, or other related areas. Applicants must also complete approved university courses, and about 1,000 hours of experience, plus pass the BACB exam.
The changes that the BACB is making to the BCBA certification process will take effect January 1, 2016. One change will be that a degree in speech-language pathology will not qualify for the degree requirement. This will not affect those seeking certification prior to 2016.
With the increasing rates of autism spectrum disorder diagnosis and demands for public and private health insurance to cover applied behavior analysis services the demand for BCBAs are expected to grow rapidly.
Donaldson, A. (2014, April). A Closer Look at Certification Changes for Behavior Analysts. ASHA Leader, 19(4), 32-33.