What is a 'BCBA' certification?

AAPC authors are qualified professionals in various disciplines, certified in their respective fields.

But what do these certifications mean?

The term “BCBA” as a part of somebody’s professional title means that he or she is a board-certified behavior analyst. BCBAs have a firm understanding of behavior and why certain behaviors occur. They provide training to both families and staff, conduct assessments, create behavior plans, and monitor progress to remedy undesirable behaviors and ultimately promote positive social development. Using comprehensive principles of learning, BCBAs accommodate specific behavioral needs of children and adults in a variety of settings, including the home, school, and work, and center-based environments (Cherry, n.d.). These principles may be used to accompany other evidence-based treatments to promote the best results.

A widely used intervention by BCBAs is ABA (applied behavior analysis), which has proven to be particularly effective for supporting children with autism and other developmental disabilities.

Becoming a board-certified behavior analyst takes extensive training and rigorous academic coursework.

There are three levels of certified behavior analysis:

1.       Bachelor’s level – board-certified assistant behavior analyst (BCaBA)

2.       Master’s level – board-certified behavior analyst (BCBA)

3.       Doctoral level – board-certified behavior analyst-doctoral (BCBA-D)

According to the Behavior Analyst Certification Board, in order to achieve the Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analysts credentials, applicants must complete 135 classroom hours of instruction in areas of ethical considerations, principles, concepts, behavior assessment, selecting intervention outcomes & strategies, experimental evaluation & interventions, and behavior change and procedures from an accredited institution of higher education.

To complete the second level, the applicant must first attain a Master’s degree in behavior analysis, special education, psychology, etc. and complete specific coursework at the graduate level in behavior analysis. Additionally, this individual is required to have approximately 9 months of supervised experience under someone who is approved by the board in behavior analysis. Finally this person must have their application approved by the board and then get a passing score on The Behavior Analyst Board BACB examination (What is BCBA anyway, n.d.).

Accomplishing the Doctoral level requires applicants to be an active BCBA and earn a degree from a doctoral program accredited by the Association for Behavior Analysis International or have earned a doctoral degree from an accredited university in which he or she conducted a behavior-analytic dissertation and passed at least two behavior analytic courses as a part of the doctoral program of study.

AAPC authors who have graduate training and hands-on experience in applied behavior analysis include:

Amy Buie, Med, BCBA, LBA, author of …

Mary Benton, MEd, BCBA, and Carol Hollis, MEd, BCBA, co-authors of …

Penny Owens, MEd, BCBA, co-author of …

Christine E. Reeve, PhD, BCBA-D, co-author of …

To learn more BCBA and how to become certified, click here.


ABA, BCBA, and CAS: What does it all mean? (2014, August 4). Retrieved from http://www.certifiedautismspecialist.com/aba-bcba-and-cas-what-does-it-all-mean/

About BACB credentials. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.bacb.com/index.php?page=4

Cherry, K. (n.d.). What is behavior analysis? Retrieved from http://psychology.about.com/od/behavioralpsychology/f/behanalysis.htm

What is BCBA anyway? (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.behavior-consultant.com/whatisbcba.htm


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