August 15, 2022  |  Purdue University Global

The Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) and Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA) certifications are intended to help protect vulnerable populations. Certification by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) is voluntary and, in addition to licensure, mandated in 34 states. Behavior analyst professionals electing certification agree to adhere to a code of ethics, certain practice requirements, and disciplinary measures.

Demand for analysts with BCBA or BCaBA certification has significantly increased every year between 2010 and 2021, according to the BACB. Nationwide, demand for BCBA holders was up 38% in 2021 over the previous year and up 7% for BCaBA holders.

While the latter percentage may seem small compared to that of BCBA holders, demand for BCaBA certification holders increased 64,382% over the previous 12 years, while demand for BCBA certification increased by a smaller, but still impressive, 5,852%.

While BCBAs and BCaBAs perform many similar tasks, they differ in how long it takes to get certified and what you can do with each certification.

BCBA vs. BCaBA: What's the Difference?

A BCBA is a master's-level certification that allows you to practice without supervision, while a BCaBA is a bachelor's-level certification that requires ongoing supervision under a BCBA.

Many times, people obtain their BCaBA first and obtain their BCBA certification once they further their education and get some practice in the field. As a BCaBA, you are able to conduct assessments, analyze data, help create interventions, and supervise registered behavior technicians (RBTS) in the field. The two certifications also require different time commitments; BCBA certification requires 2,000 hours of supervised fieldwork, while BCaBA certification requirements include 1,300 supervised fieldwork hours under a BCBA.

How Long Does It Take for BCBA or BCaBA Certification?

According to the BACB:

  • Someone sitting for the BCBA exam must have a master's degree in any setting, 315 hours of applied behavior analysis (ABA) coursework, and 2,000 supervised fieldwork hours.
  • For a BCaBA, students must have a bachelor's degree, 225 hours of ABA coursework, and 1,300 supervised fieldwork hours.
  • Some students may choose to pursue supervised fieldwork hours while they're in school. Once students finish their degree program, they will need to finish any remaining fieldwork hours before sitting for the exam.

If you want to shorten the path toward earning your BCBA, you may consider enrolling in an accelerated master's in psychology program after completing your bachelor's degree. Purdue University Global's Master of Science in Psychology degree program is verified by the Association for Behavior Analysis International to meet the coursework requirements of becoming a BCBA.

Selecting a BCBA or BCaBA Program

For BACB certification, candidates must complete a verified course sequence or qualified program prior to performing required fieldwork or sitting for the certification exams. The BACB recommends asking yourself these questions when you're deciding on programs for your coursework:

  • Focus: Does a program's focus align with your career goals? Is it led by instructors with interests similar to yours?
  • Size: Does a program's size (number of students) fit your learning style?
  • Structure: Does a program's delivery method (online, hybrid, onsite) align with your learning style?
  • Faculty: Look at a program's student-to-faculty ratio. A lower student-to-faculty ratio typically means that faculty can spend more time providing individualized feedback to students.
  • Institution pass rates: Does the training help prepare you to pass the BCBA and BCaBA exams.

What Can You Do with These Certifications?

Behavior analyst job descriptions typically involve working with individuals with disabilities such as autism. They observe the relationships between behaviors and environments, and they work with their clients to develop or modify new behaviors. As a behavior analyst, you may work in a clinical practice, a public school, or even at a corporate office specializing in organizational behavior management.

Increasingly, different types of behavior analyst jobs are opening up. For example, the FBI hires BA professionals for its three behavioral analysis units. Duties may include looking into the psychological aspects behind terrorist acts and crimes in which adults and children are victims.

Other ABA paths you might pursue include:

  • Brain injury patient skill development
  • Behavior gerontology
  • Behavioral sport psychology
  • Substance use disorders
  • Behavior analysis in environmental sustainability

A BCaBA or BCBA certification is required for many behavior analyst jobs, as it shows employers and clients that you have the knowledge and skills necessary to provide behavior analytic services.

>> Read: Beyond Autism: The Diversification of Applied Behavior Analysis Interventions

Launch a Career in Applied Behavior Analysis with Purdue Global

Behavior analysts work to improve lives one person at a time. There are several higher education options available for those looking to become a behavior analyst:

The psychology programs at Purdue Global are online and tailored to meet the needs of busy working adults. Learn more about the above programs by requesting more information today.

Filed in: Psychology


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Purdue University Global

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NOTES AND CONDITIONS

BCaBA Certification: The Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI) has verified the course sequence of the Bachelor of Science in Psychology in Applied Behavior Analysis and Postbaccalaureate Certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis programs toward the coursework requirements for eligibility to take the Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst® examination. The programs meet certification requirements for the BCaBA® examination in specific states. Refer to Licensure.PurdueGlobal.edu for additional information on licensure and state authorizations. The University cannot guarantee students will be eligible to sit for or pass exams. Applicants will need to meet additional requirements before they can be deemed eligible to take the examination. Refer to the BACB’s website (www.BACB.com) for full eligibility requirements.

BCBA Certification: The Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI) has verified the course sequence of the Master of Science in Psychology and Postgraduate Certificate in Psychology programs toward the coursework requirements for eligibility to take the Board Certified Behavior Analyst® examination. The program meets certification requirements for the BCBA® examination in specific states. Refer to Licensure.PurdueGlobal.edu for additional information on licensure and state authorizations. The University cannot guarantee students will be eligible to sit for or pass exams. Applicants will need to meet additional requirements before they can be deemed eligible to take the examination. Refer to the BACB’s website (www.BACB.com) for full eligibility requirements.

The professional practice of psychology is regulated by each state, and the degree requirements of these programs do not guarantee or prepare students for licensure in any state upon graduation. Refer to Licensure.PurdueGlobal.edu for additional information on licensure and state authorizations. It is important to note that, while earning a master’s degree in psychology may qualify students to work in the helping professions, a doctorate degree is required to become a psychologist and a medical degree is required to become a psychiatrist.

Credit Toward Master’s Degree: The University cannot guarantee that students will be granted admission to any future programs. Speak to an Advisor about admissions requirements and transfer credit opportunities and see the University Catalog for the Prior Learning Assessment policy.

Employment and Career Advancement: Purdue Global does not guarantee employment placement or career advancement. Actual outcomes vary by geographic area, previous work experience and opportunities for employment.

Fieldwork: The field experience provides the student with a supervised onsite learning experience in conjunction with an online course. The student is responsible for identifying an appropriate field experience site, submitting all required documentation, and obtaining approval from the appropriate school staff.

Optional Certification Exams: Students are responsible for understanding the requirements of optional certification exams. The University cannot guarantee students will be eligible to sit for or pass exams. In some cases, work experience, additional coursework beyond the Purdue Global program, fieldwork, and/or background checks may be necessary to be eligible to take or to successfully pass the exams.