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How to Become Licensed As an ABA Therapist

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Assistant Behavior Analyst therapists are in high demand due to the ever-increasing number of children born with autism. According to Autism, “ABA methods have been used successfully with many kinds of learners of all ages, with and without disabilities, in many different settings.” Many professionals with the desire to make careers out of helping others pursue ABA certification.

Obtain a bachelor’s degree in counseling, psychology or early childhood education. Taking the extra steps to earn a master’s degree or Ph.D. in psychology can open up additional employment opportunities. A list of state and private universities that offer degree programs in these fields can be found at your local library or online.

Select a certification to pursue. The two certifications offered by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) are the Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA) and the Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). The prerequisites for the first include a bachelor’s degree, while the latter requires a master’s degree. “The BACB’s mission is to develop, promote and implement an international certification program for behavior analyst practitioners. The BACB has established uniform content, standards and criteria for the credentialing process,” according to

Complete the required coursework and fieldwork. In addition to the degree requirements, the Assistant Behavior Analyst certification requires 1,000 hours of supervised behavior analysis fieldwork, 135 online or on-campus classroom hours, and successful completion of the BCaBA examination. However, the Board Certified Behavior Analyst certification involves 225 hours of “graduate level” classroom instruction, 1,500 hours of supervised behavior analysis independent fieldwork, and the ability to obtain a passing grade on the BCBA exam, according to Education

Decide where you want to work. As a certified ABA therapist, you’ll be able to work in hospitals, care centers, schools or private practice. Each location comes with its own challenges and benefits. Many ABA therapists like to work in a combination of environments such as working pro-bono for a city or county care center part-time while also working for a high-paying, private organization.