A BCaBA certification is essential for becoming a marketable employee in the field of autism. In order to sit for the BCaBA exam, students must be pursuing a bachelor's degree in a related field, achieve a grade of “C” or better in the 5 approved autism classes and complete 670 practicum hours during 3 of the 5 courses.
As the number of children diagnosed with autism increases, the need for educators and health professionals with training in behavior analysis also increases. Properly preparing future educators and health professionals is key for effective instruction and program development for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs).
The Value of a BCaBA®
The BCaBA certification is internationally recognized and states that a person has achieved a specific level of training and has passed an exam to demonstrate competency in behavior analysis. It is a credential for those with a bachelor's degree in a human studies field who work, or would like to work, in fields where the research-based principles of learning are applied to improve socially significant behavior. Due to the disturbingly high number of children diagnosed with ASDs and the relatively low number of certified behavior analysts, employment prospects for certified behavior analysts are excellent. The dire need for certified behavior analysts means that certified behavior analysts are often paid more than other educators and health professionals with comparable levels of training.
Description of a BCaBA®
The BCaBA conducts descriptive behavioral assessments and is able to interpret the results and design ethical and effective behavior analytic interventions for clients. The BCaBA designs and oversees interventions in familiar cases (e.g., similar to those encountered during their training) that are consistent with the dimensions of applied behavior analysis. The BCaBA obtains technical direction from a BCBA for unfamiliar situations. The BCaBA is able to teach others to carry out interventions once the BCaBA has demonstrated competency with the procedures involved under the direct supervision of a BCBA. The BCaBA may assist a BCBA with the design and delivery of introductory level instruction in behavior analysis. It is mandatory that each BCaBA practice under the supervision of a BCBA. Governmental entities, third-party insurance plans and others utilizing BCaBAs must require this supervision.
The number of children diagnosed with autism is collected annually by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP). For the 2009 school year, there was a reported 419,262 students age 3-21 diagnosed with autism ("Population and Enrollment Data," 2012). That is 39,075 more students being supported in schools than in 2008. In Pennsylvania alone, 19,862 individuals with autism were identified in the 2005 Pennsylvania Autism Census. The three counties in the Commonwealth with the highest number of individuals with autism were Allegheny (2,235), Philadelphia (2,142) and Montgomery (1,109).
About Applied Behavior Analysis
Applied behavior analysis is a well-developed, evidenced-based discipline among the helping professions and is particularly used in treating individuals with ASDs. Applied behavior analysis is the only treatment recommended for children with autism by the US Surgeon General. Applied behavior analysts can help individuals with ASDs through assessment and planning of behavioral, academic, and social interventions. Wherever there is a need for new behaviors to be learned, to increase or reduce existing behaviors, or to teach specific behaviors in specific situations, applied behavior analysis is often the most effective approach. In addition to providing treatment for individuals with autism, applied behavior analysts also provide services to individuals and groups in many other types of settings including family homes, schools, business and industry, hospitals, group homes, mental health agencies, and wherever intensive behavioral training or consultation is required. Training in behavior analysis is the best type of training for people who work with animals and also provides exceptional preparation for those who wish to pursue an advanced degree in the helping professions field.