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How to Become a Behavior Analyst

Drexel University School of Education

The services of a Behavior Analyst (BA) are often sought when parents, teachers, and other caregivers have exhausted all other ideas and resources. Therefore, the work Behavior Analysts are called upon to do can be very challenging, but meaningful work both for the individual who requires intervention as well as the relevant stakeholders. Progress, while sometimes slow, can still provide much needed hope and inspiration to those affected.

What Is a Behavior Analyst and What Do They Do?

Behavior Analysts serve various roles depending on the setting. In schools, Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs) often fulfill a consultative role to teachers and administrators, providing guidance and training on strategies to address student behavior challenges or to develop a school-wide behavior plan. In residential or community-based settings, BCBAs may also function in various roles. Specifically, they may provide direct service to residents, serve a consultative role to managers and directors, or fill administrative or training roles themselves. In clinic and research settings, BCBAs may be responsible for conducting assessments or overseeing caseloads of individuals with more significant needs or managing research protocols. In all these settings and roles, BCBAs are expected to function as a member of a team of professionals focused on improving outcomes for individuals with the most significant needs.

What Degree Do I Need to Become a Behavioral Analyst?

The road to becoming a board-certified Behavior Analyst requires earning a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree. Those who are interested in becoming a Behavior Analyst may consider a bachelor’s degree program in a behavioral science field such as psychology. A graduate degree in Applied Behavior Analysis with coursework approved by the Association of Behavior Analysts International prepares students to sit for the Board Certified Behavior Analyst® exam, which. This is a critical step in becoming a BA.

How To Become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst: 5 Steps and Requirements

Below are the five main criteria to become a board certified behavior analyst.

1. Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

The first step in becoming a Behavior Analyst requires that students need to earn a bachelor’s degree. Aspiring behavior analysts should consider degrees in fields like education, psychology, and other subjects related to the field of behavioral science. We encourage you to visit our undergraduate degrees page to see academic offerings from the School of Education.

2. Complete Graduate-Level Coursework in Behavior Analysis

Those interested in becoming a Behavior Analyst will need to complete the coursework required to sit for the Board Certified Behavior Analyst® exam. Students are also required to have a masters degree in a relevant field. A behavior analyst degree, like Drexel’s MS in Applied Behavior Analysis, provides the course sequence necessary to sit for the take the Board Certified Behavior Analyst® or Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst® examination. Students who already have a master’s degree in a relevant field can enroll in Drexel’s Applied Behavior Analysis certificate program where they can complete course work and required field experiences to sit for the BCBA exam.

3. Complete Supervised Fieldwork

In addition to completing coursework, aspiring Behavior Analysts must also complete either 2,000 hours of supervised coursework or 1,500 hours of concentrated supervised fieldwork. When completing fieldwork, future behavior analysts are paired with students who need services. This allows students to gain valuable experience before they take the BCBA exam. Students in Drexel's MS in Applied Behavior Analysis program work with the School of Education to find a center to complete their field experience hours.

4. Pass the BCBA Exam

After completing coursework and the required number of field experience hours, students will prepare for the BCBA exam. Future behavior analysts must first apply to take the exam and pay the application fee. Students may also need to provide proof of their degree(s), coursework, and supervised fieldwork. The BCBA typically consists of 175 questions that cover the foundations and applications of behavior science. Students are given four hours to complete the exam.

5. Become Licensed in Your State

The final step to becoming a Behavior Analyst is to become licensed by the state. Not all states require a license. To find out if your state has a licensure act and the details, visit the APBA Licensure and Other Regulation of ABA Practitioners page.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Behavior Analyst?

For aspiring Behavior Analysts without a degree in a related field, it will typically take 4 years to earn a bachelor’s degree and 2 years to earn a master’s degree. Students in Drexel’s MS in Applied Behavior Analyst program can complete the required field experience hours while taking courses online. Others may choose to complete the coursework first and complete their experience hours after they find a job in the field.

Maintaining Your BCBA Certification and License

Once a person become a Behavior Analyst, they must maintain their certification and license. BCBA’s need to be recertified every two years. To be eligible for recertification, they must complete ongoing education requirements, comply with the ethics set by the BACB, and submit a recertification application before their current certification expires.

Become a Behavior Analyst with Drexel University’s School of Education

Drexel University offers two options to help students become a Behavior Analyst through the MS in Applied Behavior Analyst degree program and the Applied Behavior Analyst certificate program. The certification program is available to students who already have a master’s degree in a related field and are looking to complete the required coursework and field experience hours.

Start your application today or contact us for more information.