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Certified Behavior Analyst

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What is a Certified Behavior Analyst?

A certified behavior analyst, also known as a board-certified behavior analyst or BCBA, specializes in applying behavior therapies and interventions to assist individuals in leading more fulfilling lives. This role involves the use of various techniques to study, observe, and modify behavior, aiming to resolve problematic behaviors and enhance positive ones.

The demand for certified behavior analysts has seen a notable increase, with a 23% career growth rate from 2021 to 2022, significantly surpassing the national average of 5%. Although it may not be as widely recognized as other healthcare professions, the impact of a certified behavior analyst is profound, offering daily opportunities to make a substantial difference in people's lives.

What does a Certified Behavior Analyst Do?

Certified behavior analysts work with patients in both group and individual settings to assess and understand their behaviors. They develop tailored care plans and teach strategies to manage or eliminate disruptive behaviors while promoting positive behavior changes. This vital work not only improves the lives of the individuals they serve but also contributes to their ability to lead happier and more productive lives.

What skills does a Certified Behavior Analyst need?

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What skills does a Certified Behavior Analyst need?

Certified behavior analysts are skilled communicators with astute observation skills! Behavioral analysts must be approachable, non-judgemental, and naturally interested in helping people through challenging situations. 

Next, let's look closer at where behavior analysts work, what education and professional training they need, and more ways to grow in this expanding profession!

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Certified Behavior Analysts

Work settings for Certified Behavior Analysts

Certified behavioral analysts enjoy having the ability to choose from a wide range of work settings. Behavioral analysts typically work daytime hours. Working weekends and non-traditional hours may be an option, depending on your work setting. 

Certified behavioral analysts most commonly work in:

  • Schools
  • Hospitals
  • Clinics
  • Mental health facilities
  • Assisted living facilities 
  • Group homes
  • Non-profits

Common Cases Certified Behavior Analysts Encounter

Behavior analysts are incredibly adaptable and see a wide range of cases and patients. Some of the most common cases you may encounter include:

  • Helping children with developmental challenges.
  • Working with childhood language and communication development.
  • Helping those with traumatic brain injuries.
  • Assisting patients struggling with drug, alcohol, or other addictions. 
  • Teaching parents how to use behavioral strategies and interventions at home.
  • Providing behavioral consultations in school, group, and residential settings.
  • Working with individuals who have a wide range of social, emotional, or other problems.

How to Become A Certified Behavior Analyst

To become a certified behavioral analyst, you will need to start with a high school diploma. Once you have that, here are your next steps:

  1. Complete a bachelor's degree program in a relevant field. The following programs are great options:
  • Applied Behavioral Analysis
  • Psychology
  • Sociology
  • Education
  • Childhood Development
  1. Next, Complete a Graduate degree in Behavior Analysis. 
  • The graduate program you choose should be accredited by the Association for Behavioral Analysis International, or ABAI. Accredited programs offer advanced learning opportunities in behavioral analysis, behavioral analysis techniques, psychology, and more. 
  • Your graduate degree will also include clinical experience under the supervision of a board-certified behavior analyst, licensed psychologist, or authorized behavior analyst instructor. 
  • Before obtaining your degree, you must typically complete 1,500 to 2,000 hours of supervised clinical experience. 
  1. Finally, take and pass the board-certified Board-Certified Behavior Analysis (BCBA) exam
  • You must have a master’s degree in an applicable field to take the exam and become a BCBA. 
  • The BCBA exam consists of 185 questions and is four hours long. You must pass the exam and obtain behavior analyst certification before you can work independently.

It can take about four years to obtain a bachelor's degree and then another two to four years to obtain your master's degree, depending on whether you choose to be in school full-time or part-time. All in all, it can take six years or more to become a certified behavior analyst.   

How to Advance Your Career As A Certified Behavior Analyst

Once you begin a rewarding career as a certified behavior analyst, you will have plenty of opportunities to advance! You can choose to specialize in a specific area of behavioral analysis, such as: 

  • Early childhood development
  • Autism therapy
  • Other developmental therapies
  • Addiction therapy
  • Forensic profiler
  • Behavioral consultant

The sky is the limit! You can also continue your education to achieve a post-master's certificate or doctoral degree in a related field. You can become a behavior analyst supervisor, director, or consultant. 

You can also begin to mentor new behavior analysts, behavior analyst students, or teach at the undergraduate or graduate level. Or, become your own boss and open your own private behavioral therapy practice!

Education Requirements & Helpful Certification

To become a certified behavioral analyst, you will need a graduate degree in behavior analysis. Before completing your graduate degree, you will need a high school diploma and a bachelor’s degree. 

You will then need to take and pass the BCBA exam before you can work independently as a certified behavior analyst. 

Depending on your work environment, you may be required to maintain a basic life support (BLS) CPR certification. You will also have the opportunity to specialize in an area of behavioral analysis that interests you.

Here are a few additional certified behavior analyst certifications:

Average Salary For Certified Behavior Analysts

A certified behavioral analyst makes an average salary of $71,900 per year. The lowest ten percent of certified behavioral analysts earn approximately $55,700 annually, and the highest ten percent earn $82,600 annually. 

Certified behavioral analysts who have more experience, additional training, or are highly specialized can often earn much more. As with most healthcare professionals’ salaries, pay rates for certified behavioral analysts tend to be higher in large cities with more significant costs of living. 


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