We are hiring BCBA's, RBT's, and Child Psychologists
See open positions

How To Become A Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA)

Becoming a BCBA can take a total of 6 to 10 years. How long it takes depends on several factors.

steven zauderer
Steven Zauderer
September 4th, 2022

How To Become a BCBA

In five steps, you'll be able to become a certified BCBA:

  1. Earn a relevant bachelor’s degree.
  2. Complete required behavior-analytic graduate coursework.
  3. Complete required supervised fieldwork.
  4. Apply for, take, and pass the BCBA exam.
  5. Apply for state licensure.

An aspiring BCBA is usually required to have a master's degree in a related field, like psychology, medicine, or education.

BCBAs are required to complete a bachelor's degree before getting a master's. In the United States, it takes four years, on average, to complete a bachelor's degree, and two years to complete a master's degree.

required degrees for becoming a bcba

If you have already completed a bachelor's degree and know you want to become a board certified behavior analyst, you can search for master's programs that provide training.

You must ensure that the training these programs provide is certified or accredited toward the BACB's requirements. These programs might be in the following fields:

  1. Psychology
  2. Special education
  3. Early childhood education
  4. Applied behavior analysis
  5. Nursing or medicine

Coursework focused on applied behavior analysis needs to include minimum hours of certain topics being studied.

  1. 45 hours - concepts and principles of applied behavior analysis
  2. 45 hours - ethical and professional conduct
  3. 45 hours - specific behavior change principles as well as fundamental elements of behavior change
  4. 30 hours - identification and assessment of client needs
  5. 30 hours - discretionary behavior-analytic content
  6. 20 hours - experimental design
  7. 10 hours each - intervention and behavior change considerations, implementation, management, supervision, and behavior change systems

How Long Does It Take To Become A BCBA?

Becoming a BCBA can take a total of 6 to 10 years. There are different paths you can choose to becoming a behavior analyst.

how long does it take to become a bcba

You'll need several years of higher education and work experience before you can become a certified BCBA.

How long it takes you to become a certified BCBA will depend on your study duration and the time it takes to complete an undergraduate degree and graduate degree.

Generally, it takes around four years to get a bachelor's degree, two years to get a master's degree, and then you must complete 1,500 hours of supervised fieldwork in applied behavior analysis.

Even though the supervised fieldwork hours can be completed in around one year, it can take many people longer than that.

Beginning the Process

Becoming a board certified behavior analyst (BCBA) is a long-term commitment that you'll need to stick to if you want to receive certification. If you want to become a BCBA and practice ABA therapy to help people diagnosed with autism, you must meet several qualifications.

The Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) oversees regulations which define this important clinical role. The regulations help maintain high standards of ethics and safety which helps patients receive best-in-class therapy.

There are several listed requirements to become a BCBA which are listed by the BACB, some of which involve previous work experience and education.

Supervised Fieldwork For Aspiring BCBAs

Whether you complete the required coursework through an accredited college or university program, you must also complete a specific amount of supervised experience with patients. Below are a few options:

  1. 1,500 hours of supervised fieldwork - it's the baseline requirement for practical experience while you complete coursework on ABA. It can be completed in a school, clinic, private ABA therapy practice, or a medical office. It's important to know that your supervisor must be an active behavior analyst who meets the ongoing supervision requirements.
  2. 1,000 hours of internship work - it's one of the two more intensive training tracks that's provided through verified course sequences, outside of college or university settings. Your supervisor must be a qualified BCBA who meets the supervision requirements.
  3. 750 hours of intensive internship work - it allows you to focus in-depth for a much shorter period of time.
  4. 500 hours of intensive internship work - this track is only available to students in PhD programs who already have around 10 years of experience working in a educational, therapy, or medical setting.

You can apply for the board examination once you have completed the study and practical requirements for receiving ABA therapy certification.

Board Certification Examination

Once you've set up an account with the BACB, you can complete an application to take the online board certification exam. You're required to have all necessary paperwork, which includes course grades, supervisor reports, and any professional information.

You're also required to sign the Eligibility Affidavit at the end of the application. This states that you have read and are complying with the BACB requirements. Any conditions, situations, or investigations that might impact your ability to complete the exam in a timely fashion must also be reported.

You'll have around 3 months (90 days) to submit your payment for it to be processed once you submit your application. Once the payment is submitted, you'll then be notified if you qualify to take the exam, and you'll be asked to schedule an exam date.

time you have to submit payment

In the references section of this guide we will include a list of helpful resources. If you have any questions about the BCBA certification process, make sure to read those guides.

References

  1. Thechicagoschool.edu
  2. Bacb.com
  3. Regiscollege.edu
  4. Indeed.com
steven zauderer

CEO of CrossRiverTherapy - a national ABA therapy company based in the USA.