By becoming an applied behavior analyst, you will further your career within the field of education, psychology, or social work. To get started, you need to get the right education that includes a master's degree in behavior analysis. Also, to gain experience you will have to complete many hours of field work and practical courses. After completing these requirements, you will need to pass the behavioral analyst exam that is certified by the relevant board. Although becoming a behavior analyst may seem very difficult, the work itself is enjoyable and rewarding!
Part 1 of 3: Get the Right Education
Step 1. Acquire a bachelor's degree in the field of study of your choice
Because you must have a master's degree in behavior analysis to become an applied behavior analyst, you will first need a bachelor's degree. While you can complete your degree in your desired field of study, it stands to reason that you should specialize in a field of study that is related to education, psychology, or social work.
Step 2. Complete the hours of graduate classes for each content in the area of behavioral analysis
The number of class hours required by each content area will vary depending on the college you attend. In general, you should spend a certain number of hours in the following areas:
- ethical considerations
- behavioral measurement and visualization and interpretation of behavioral data
- experimental evaluation of interventions
- behavioral assessment and selection of results and intervention strategies
- behavior change procedures and systems support
- definitions, characteristics, principles, processes and concepts
- discretionary analytical behavior content
Step 3. Earn a master's degree in behavioral analysis or a related field of study
The next step on your path to becoming an applied behavior analyst is acquiring a master's degree. While it is recommended that the degree be one in behavioral analysis, you can choose another field of study that is approved by the Behavioral Analyst Certification Board. For example, you can choose a master's degree within the field of natural sciences, engineering, medicine, education, or human resources.
Part 2 of 3: Gain experience
Step 1. Complete 1000 hours of practice
While completing the master's degree, you can enroll in an internship through your university. In these practices, you will earn college credit as well as experience in behavioral analysis. A board certified behavior analyst shall supervise 7.5% of the total hours of the required internships.
Internships may include behavioral assessments or data analysis
Step 2. Complete 750 hours of intensive practice
Intensive internships will also be supervised by your university and must be approved by the Behavioral Analyst Certification Board. In an intensive practice, you can usually work with children in a special education setting. A board certified behavior analyst shall supervise 10% of the total required hours.
During intensive practice, you may need to write and review behavior analytical treatment plans, or you may need to monitor their implementation
Step 3. Complete 1,500 hours of freelance fieldwork
Fieldwork will give you experience in behavioral analysis and give you an idea of what your future work in that field will look like. To complete the hours, you can organize an internship or you can work with a behavioral analysis company. A board certified behavior analyst must supervise at least 5% of the total hours required.
During field work, you will be able to supervise the implementation of behavioral analysis programs or design, implement and monitor behavior systems
Part 3 of 3: Acquire Certification
Step 1. Review the state certification criteria and licensing requirements
The certification requirements to become an applied behavior analyst vary from city to city, as not all countries have a national certification program. To find out the specific requirements of your area of study, contact the Behavioral Analyst Certification Board in your region. Some regions may require a license in addition to certification.
Also, some regions will allow you to substitute work experience for internships
Step 2. Access the online training module through the US Behavioral Analyst Certification Board
Before you take the board exam, you will need to pass an online training module. This 8-hour module is available on the Behavioral Analyst Certification Board website:
Step 3. Pass the Behavioral Analyst Certification Board exam
To earn your Applied Behavior Analyst certification, you will need to pass the board exam. Visit the board's website to find available exam dates and information on the content and structure of the exam.
For example, you will find that the US Behavioral Analyst Certification Board exam has 150 multiple-choice questions and 10 "pilot" questions. Pilot questions do not enter the assessment
Step 4. Purchase a license if necessary
Some regions require a behavioral analyst license in addition to certification. Requirements vary by region, but to acquire a license, you will generally need to pay a fee and attach a license form, evidence of your education and experience, and a certificate of good conduct.