To become a BCaBA in 2022, you need specific training in ABA practices. You also need to pass the board certification exam to legally work in a clinical setting.
Once you receive certification, you must maintain this qualification by reapplying every few years, which is true of many licensed and certified clinical practitioners.
What Is a Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst or ABA Therapist Assistant?
Therapists who practice applied behavior analysis (ABA) come from several fields, and there are many different certifications that reflect this. Almost anyone who wants to work with people on the autism spectrum can find a form of ABA training that is appropriate for them, so they can begin this important work. The assistant behavior analyst position, certified by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB), is an in-demand position.
One of the most familiar ABA therapy positions is the board certified behavior analyst (BCBA). This position requires extensive training in psychology, education, medicine, or a related field, along with a few years of experience in an ABA therapy setting. This is typically a master’s-level position or higher.
If you do not have this training, or know that you want to work with people on the autism spectrum but are not interested in a master’s-level education, you can pursue the BCaBA position instead.
BCaBAs have undergraduate-level certifications, allowing you to work under the supervision of a BCBA in a clinical, therapeutic, or educational setting. Although you cannot create or implement therapy plans on your own, you will work with many clients on your own, with the BCBA’s guidance. You will also be qualified to manage registered behavior technicians (RBTs).
How Do You Become a Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst?
The Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) is an independent board that was established in 1998 to manage and moderate professional standards among therapists, educators, and medical professionals who want to pursue ABA therapy practices to help people on the autism spectrum. This board certifies three positions: RBTs, BCaBAs, and BCBAs.
The BACB does not offer direct training for any of these three positions, but many colleges, universities, and medical training options do exist. The board does list specific requirements for becoming a BCaBA, which can be provided through accredited training programs that are geared toward you passing the board certification exam after completing your diploma.
Coursework that can train you for BCaBA certification may include:
- Verified course sequence. This is a set of courses that have been verified by the Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI) as meeting the appropriate standards to take the board certification exam. Some of these course sequences may be offered in a broader undergraduate course program, like teacher training or nursing. Others may be standalone professional certification programs.
- You can search the ABAI’s site for information on verified course sequences.
- An ABAI-accredited undergraduate program. If you know you want to work with people on the autism spectrum, you can find a bachelor’s track accredited by the Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI) when you apply for an undergraduate degree program. These programs offer more than a few modules related to ABA therapy and instead focus on ABA therapy as a complete profession. ABAI offers a list of accredited degree programs, including doctoral, master’s, and bachelor’s degree options.
- Nonverified coursework. It is possible to qualify for the board certification exam without completing an ABAI-verified track, but you must have your department sign a course content attestation that you will submit with your application to the exam or to your preliminary coursework evaluation. This helps the ABAI determine if the coursework you completed meets their professional requirements.
Just like you learn in a classroom setting, you will also need to learn in a clinical setting. Finding a BCBA to oversee your training hours is important to qualify for the board certification exam. Ask your course sequence coordinator or advisor for help, or you can even ask your employer if you are returning to school.
Specific Requirements to Become an ABA Therapist Assistant
The BCaBA guidelines changed slightly as of January 2022.
As of January 2022, you must meet specific eligibility requirements to become a BCaBA. You must:
* Have a degree with some ABA therapy components per ABAI or an ABAI-accredited undergraduate program.
* Complete and pass behavior-analytic coursework divided into:
- 45 hours involving the concepts and principles of ABA.
- 45 hours on the fundamental elements of behavior change and specific procedures to induce behavior changes.
- 30 hours on identification of the problem and assessment.
- 15 hours for discretionary behavior-analytic content, perhaps on specific demographics of people on the autism spectrum.
- 15 hours involving ethical and professional conduct.
- 10 hours for measurement and data analysis.
- 5 hours learning experimental design.
- 5 hours on intervention and behavior change considerations.
- 5 hours working on behavior change systems.
- 5 hours on implementation, management, and supervision.
* Locate an appropriate BCBA supervisor and begin supervised experience, totaling 1,000 supervised independent fieldwork hours, 670 practicum hours, or 500 intensive practicum hours. No fewer than 20 hours may be accrued per month, but no more than 130 hours may be accrued in the same period.
- Supervised independent fieldwork is the basic approach to training, giving you practice in a clinical setting with BCBA supervision.
- Practicum hours and intensive practicum hours allow you to complete similar training in less time, but they are only available through a verified course sequence.
* Pass an audit from the BACB if needed. These occur randomly for trainees and supervisors to ensure standards are being met.
* Apply to take the certification exam, including completing the application, submitting appropriate paperwork, and paying the fee. Then, you’ll wait up to 45 days to receive verification of your examination date.
* Pass the 130-question examination.
* Receive your certification notice to begin applying for BCaBA positions.
Once you receive your certification, you can apply for jobs, but be sure to complete ongoing professional education and get recertified every two years to maintain your license. This requires a certain amount of learning, teaching, and/or professional scholarship in the field, plus taking the certification exam again if you let your license lapse. Your BCBA supervisor must verify your ongoing professional activities as an assistant ABA therapist.
Finding Work After Completing Certification
Once you complete your coursework and pass your board certification exam, you can look for a position as a BCaBA. The average BCaBA salary is $70,000 in the United States, as of 2022; this may be listed as $35.90 per hour. This wage will vary depending on where you live in the country, but it will be on par with the standard of living in that area.
Finding work as a BCaBA can be as simple as looking online and applying to open positions. You can make connections to clinical practitioners during your training and supervised fieldwork, so do not hesitate to ask supervisors or school advisors for help or recommendations to find jobs that will suit you. You can also look up local ABA therapy practices that work with schools or medical facilities to see if they have any job openings.
Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst. Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BCBA).
Verified Course Sequence Directory. Association for Behavior Analysts International (ABAI).
Accredited Programs. Association for Behavior Analysts International (ABAI).
Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst Handbook. Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BCBA).
BCaBA Average Salary in USA 2021. Talent.