So You Want to Be a BCBA?
Congrats on choosing a very rewarding career!
Be prepared for a lot of hard work, learning, and having your mind blown. This blog post will discuss the process for becoming a Board Certified Behaviour Analyst (BCBA). There are a few other certifications through the Behaviour Analyst Certification Board (BCBA), but this post is in reference to becoming a BCBA.
Disclaimer: This post includes my own thoughts and understanding of the process of becoming a BCBA. Make sure you visit and refer to the BACB website for any clarification around becoming a BCBA.
1. Visit and learn the Behaviour Analyst Certification Board (BACB) website. It is a little confusing to navigate, but ideally, the skills you will use and possess as a behaviour analyst, should begin to develop in this initial step. You need to understand what is required of you, before you even start the process.
At a glance:
- Verified Course Sequence (VCS) (whether part of your Masters, or separately) meeting the coursework requirements.
- Supervised fieldwork (hours depend on how you are obtaining this experience).
- Study for, and pass an exam.
* N.B. There are significant changes occurring on the 1st of January 2022 for requirements to apply for the exam. Ensure you familiarise yourself with this, if you are planning to start anytime soon!
2. Really get a good idea for what you're getting into!
The coursework component can be just as intense and daunting as gaining your hours of supervised experience! While you may have had some ABA experience, or you've done 'behaviour stuff' before, the natural science of applied behaviour analysis is extremely in-depth, and scientific!
It will take a lot of commitment to work through the coursework - wherever you choose to complete it.
Review the 4th edition task list, to get an idea of what tasks you are expected to know, understand, and be able to implement.
3. Enquire about coursework.
Not all coursework is created equal. Finding the right, and appropriate coursework for you may take some investigation.
In Australia, there is currently only one VCS at Monash University (online), where you can obtain your Masters of Education in Applied Behaviour Analysis. You will get a Masters, AND the VCS coursework.
In 2020, Griffith University will be offering a VCS Graduate Certificate in Applied Behaviour Analysis. This means you will need to already have a relevant Masters degree.
There are also other places you can obtain your masters or the coursework. The Association for Behaviour Analysis International has a list of offerings around the world. I have a strong affinity for Florida Institute of Technology's ABA program, as that is where I completed my coursework (:D), and they provided an excellent program.
It is best to direct any questions to the people who are running the programs at the specific universities, as they will have very specific information about the BCBA component.
4. Enquire about supervision.
You may not want to start right away (in fact, you cannot start supervision until you have started your coursework - and you need to pass in order to count your supervision hours!) but definitely look around, and ask questions.
Finding a supervisor can be tricky. In Australia, there are just over 100 certified BCBAs/BCBA-Ds/BCaBAs. Not everyone of those CAN supervise, and not every one of those have capacity, or even offer supervision. You don't have to do supervision in-person, and there are pros and cons of both in-person, and on-line.
One of the main things you need to seek in a supervisor, is your ability to learn from them. Supervision is an active process. It is not like a traditional supervision process you may have experienced in your work life.
Your supervisor is not there to tell you what you're doing 'wrong', or even what to do with your clients/students. They should be shaping up your behaviour analytic behaviours and skills.
This requires independent and critical thinking from you.
It requires being organised, and coming with questions to supervision.
It requires an understanding of all the elements of what you need to complete during your supervisory experience.
Your supervisor will be guiding you throughout your experience, and should be giving you opportunities to further develop your skills.
Aim to find a supervisor who has a similar educational and working background to you, or who has extensive experience working with the population you are working with.
There is a wealth of information on the BACB's website that you should be very familiar with before starting supervision. The BACB also has a search tool, so you can search for local supervisors and reach out about supervision.
Good luck, in your journey! Once you learn about the scientific principles of Applied Behaviour Analysis, there is no going back!