A Complete Guide for the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB)


Medical fields have some of the most challenging and rigorous demands of any field in the world. With all the options out there, certification can be a little difficult to understand. The BACB is a certification that makes people a little confused when hearing about it. Simply put, the BACB or Behavior Analysis Certification Board is the professional group that certifies behavior analysts by offering BACB certification. We understand it can be difficult to parse all the information available, so we’ve created a complete guide to the Behavioral Analyst Certification Board (BACB) for those interested in BACB certification. In this guide, you’ll find out what an analyst does, what jobs they can get, what certification looks like, some exam details, and even some tips for taking steps toward becoming an analyst dream. If you’d like to learn more about BACB, take a moment to work through this Complete Guide for the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB)!

What is a Behavioral Analyst?

Mental health is one of the most critical areas in science and medicine today and as more progress is made, the need for certified and highly educated individuals has increased. Behavioral analysts have a master’s degree in a field such as behavioral analysis or similar as the bare minimum. In layman’s terms, a behavior analyst can fall into a variety of fields of work. Whether it’s working with people with disabilities in a school setting, studying and developing methods for better engagement and control of behavior, or working in a corporate environment to maximize employee happiness and satisfaction.

What Kind of Jobs Can a Behavioral Analyst Get?

The jobs are quite varied as the skills used to observe people’s behavior and help them adapt in ways that improve efficiency and happiness are quite versatile. Some jobs are simple and may not utilize the skills and experience necessary to become a behavior analyst, such as specific counseling positions in a public school. Other roles will challenge and challenge the knowledge base of the most experienced behavioral analysts, such as those that relate to creating systems to maximize employee health and satisfaction in a company. In general, the amount of school involved is quite intense and the fee can range significantly from $40,000 per year to as much as $140,000. The average BA earns about $50,000 per year.

What are the requirements for BACB certification?

First, a potential BACB candidate must meet the minimum requirements to take the BACB exam, there are currently three options to meet the minimum requirement.

Option 1: The first track is to obtain a graduate degree from an accredited university and do specific graduation work related to behavioral analysis. This is followed by a period of observation in a BA field to gain the required experience.

Option 2: The second route is to obtain a required bachelor’s degree and then be in a full-time work situation that includes teaching, research, and behavioral analysis. After gaining sufficient experience (must be supervised) you can register for the BCBA exam.

Option 3: The third option is for those who have a PhD and have 10 years or more ago and 10 years of experience in postgraduate behavioral analysis work. The third option requires 500 hours of additional work under observation.

That’s a lot of work! Why should I take this route?!?

Behavioral analysis, like most fields of study, is a complex one and requires a set of highly cultivated skills. However, it is extremely rewarding because you can help people change themselves for the better, make things fun, enjoyable and solve some of the most challenging problems known to mankind. The compensation can also be very satisfactory after having gained sufficient experience. Many behavioral analysts work with individuals with disabilities in a tailored program to help them adapt to the challenges that disabilities present. You can also use these skills to provide individualized mental health counseling and plans. Opening a practice is the step that often takes salary in the BA world from fie numbers to six.

What does the exam entail if I meet the requirements?

Unlike most certifications, in order to even take the BCBA exam, you must submit an application stating your level of qualification and proving that you are able to take the test for certification. The BACB exam must be registered at least six weeks in advance. About a month after the registration deadline, the exam is offered for a month (total 4 months per year) and the candidates schedule themselves. The exam itself has 150 multiple choice questions about material from the BCBA/BCaBA task list (4e ed.)

BACB exam content

Like most certifications, you register through Pearson VUE for a modest fee and appear at a qualified testing center. The test lasts a total of four hours, including breaks, reviewing materials, terms and conditions, and test instruction. The pass rate is particularly brutal for an exam (less than 70%), but it’s more than doable with experience, practice, and a good study regimen.

This sounds a bit intimidating… How do I know if I can do this?

Like any path to certification or success, it can be very intimidating to those on the outside, especially if you have no experience in a specific subject. We recommend that you take a moment and try some online practice exams. For example, Examtopics.com offers free practice tests written and developed by people who have knowledge of the BCBA exam. Instead of stumbling around blindingly in the dark, practice online for free and get a good feel for what the BCBA exam is all about. It is accurate, fast and easy to do.

Then decide if it’s a path you want to follow. It is a huge commitment and will take you many years to see the fruits of your labor or gain experience in an environment such as a private school.

If you’re still struggling with the decision, another option is to take some beginner classes at the undergraduate level to see if you have the desire and patience to pursue such a career. Psychology classes and medical classes will provide a VERY brief introduction to these types of fields. Behavioral analysis roles require a great deal of discipline and work to obtain, but they are an enjoyable and rewarding career path to invest in.

Finally, the Behavioral Analysis Certification Board has some great FAQ sections on the website to answer some of the more complex questions.

Thank you for participating!

It can be a little intimidating to gain certification in any field, let alone a medical field that requires a great deal of experience and education, so we’ve created a complete guide to the Behavioral Analyst Certification Board. We hope this guide has helped answer some of your questions about the BCBA and made you feel a little more confident about using it as an option. We strive to educate everyone about the wonderful world of certification, where a simple exam can skyrocket your pay and throw opportunities into your lap. If this article helped you, please like it, share it and tell us why! And as always, keep coming back to learn more about the wonderful world of certification!

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