Certifications & Abbreviations 101

By now you’ve seen us use all types of abbreviations and certifications in our posts. Worry no longer, STEPS is here to help! Today we will be looking at the different titles you can hold when working in ABA and what those titles entail. All information in this post was gathered from the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB, www.bacb.com).

The first level, if you will, of the ABA ladder is the Registered Behavior Technician, or RBT. The RBT credential is a paraprofessional position that requires a high school diploma. RBTs only practice under supervision of a Board Certified Behavior Analyst or a Board Certified Behavior Analyst-Doctoral (BCBA, BCBA-D) and can’t practice independently. They are the technicians who are responsible for a majority of direct implementation of therapy. Obtaining the RBT credential requires 40 hours of training, passage of the competency assessment, and completion of a background check. The 40 hours of training includes hands-on training under supervision.

The second level is the Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst, or BCaBA. Obtaining this title requires a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university and verified coursework about behavior analysis. Typically, the bachelor’s degree is in a related field, such as psychology. The additional coursework is verified by the BACB, and only certain institutions offer verified coursework. The BACB also requires the passage of the competency exam. Even though it may seem like they should be able to, BCaBAs can not practice independently. They too have to remain under the supervision of either a BCBA or a BCBA-D. However, they can supervise RBTs with additional training and continuing education. They can also move up to the BCBA position once they’ve completed their master’s degree.

The third level is the Board Certified Behavior Analyst, or BCBA. This credential requires a master’s degree in behavior analysis, extensive training, and passage of the competency exam. There are different options for certification depending on where you are in life. They all require some sort of graduate or doctoral degree, but the main difference is between whether you do the verified coursework or gain experience through a faculty placement. Post-doctoral candidates can also obtain the BCBA credential after having supervised experience. BCBAs are independent practitioners and supervise lower-level professionals. Our clinical director at STEPS, Erin Stern, is a BCBA! She provides weekly supervision for her RBTs and constant communication and support for implementing therapy.

The fourth and final level is the Board Certified Behavior Analyst-Doctoral™, or BCBA-D™. This credential holds the same responsibilities as a BCBA, but the only difference is that the BCBA-D™ has had doctoral level training in behavior analysis. They have the same supervision and continuing education requirements.

And that’s it! Those are all of the credential levels that the BACB offers. We hope that this has been an informative and interesting read for everyone. Leave us a comment if you have any questions or further insight!