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BCBA® Certification and Licensure by State

In the field of applied behavior analysis, there are two key credentials that professionals can obtain: BCBA® certification and licensure as a Behavior Analyst. While they may seem similar, they serve different purposes and are governed by different entities.

Breaking Down BCBA State Certification

The Behavior Analyst Certification Board® (BACB®) oversees the Board Certified Behavior Analyst® (BCBA®) certification. This certification is a professional credential that signifies a certain level of competence and expertise in the field of behavior analysis. It is recognized internationally and allows professionals to practice behavior analysis under certain conditions. The certification process involves meeting specific educational and experiential BCBA requirements, passing an examination, and adhering to the BACB®'s ethical guidelines.

On the other hand, licensure as a Behavior Analyst is a state-level credential. It is granted by individual states and allows professionals to practice behavior analysis within the boundaries of that state. The licensure process typically involves meeting specific educational and experiential requirements, passing a state-administered examination, and adhering to the state's ethical guidelines. If you're looking for state-specific salary averages, we spent some time to break down the average BCBA salary by state.

It's important to note that the BACB® does not oversee licensure. However, the BACB®'s credentials are often written into licensure laws. This means that in many states, obtaining BCBA® certification is a prerequisite for licensure. Therefore, if you're planning to practice behavior analysis in a specific state, it's crucial to understand the status of the licensure laws in that state.

Licensure of a profession is a critical step towards its recognition. It signifies that the profession has met certain standards of competence and ethical practice, and that it is being overseen at the state level. The goals of licensure are to protect the public by ensuring that professionals are competent to practice and to provide a mechanism for holding professionals accountable for their practice.

State Information For BCBA Licensure

Now, let's take a look at the BCBA® licensure by state. As of the time of writing, 37 states in the US require licensure for Behavior Analysts. This number is rapidly increasing as the profession of behavior analysis becomes more regulated. The following is a graphical representation of states that require licensure for Behavior Analysts, blue indicates a licensure law and the year enacted:

Source: The Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB®), September 26, 2023. Please click here for more resources specific to each state. 

Didn’t see your state highlighted? 

Just because your state was not highlighted for having licensure laws currently in place for behavior analysts does not mean that you are off the hook! Many states are in the long process of advocating for their specific licensure law, which means that any day you could be in a position where you are in a state without licensure laws that now has one in place. Keeping up with this can be difficult, but typically there is a state behavior analysis association (e.g., California Association for Behavior Analysis, Florida Association for Behavior Analysis) that has a section on their website dedicated to keeping behavior analysts in that state informed of the status of legal changes such as licensure laws. It’s your responsibility to ensure you are keeping up with changes at the state level that impact your ability to practice ethically and responsibly. 

In conclusion, both BCBA® certification and licensure as a Behavior Analyst are important credentials for professionals in the field of behavior analysis. While BCBA® certification is an international credential overseen by the BACB®, licensure is a state-level credential that allows professionals to practice within a specific state. It's crucial for professionals to understand the requirements for both BCBA® certification and licensure in the state they wish to practice in.

For more detailed information on BCBA® certification and licensure, please refer to the BACB®'s website, the BACB®’s page dedicated to licensure and the BCBA Handbook

The Behavior Academy does not warrant or guarantee the accuracy of the information conveyed in the links.


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