Applied behavior analysis is a very intense technique used to correct behavioral patterns for individuals on the autism spectrum and other psychological difficulties. All therapists practicing this form of treatment must be licensed and hold certain degrees to become certified.
Becoming licensed requires several steps that include multiple years of education and training. Potential therapists must complete the required college courses to obtain their degrees and participate in hours of clinical training. The following sections outline the steps one must follow to become a certified ABA therapist.
Degrees Required for ABA Certification
The ABA portion of a therapist’s training is a secondary, vocational program that takes place in the educational department of a university. Typically, students choose to major in psychology, sociology, or social work. There are four possible degree levels for students aiming at a career in ABA therapy.
Bachelor’s Degree of Applied Behavioral Analysis
Completing the requirements to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree in Applied Behavioral Analysis would qualify a student for an entry-level position in the field. Reaching this level also makes them eligible to become BACB (Behavioral Analyst Certification Board) certified.
Certificate of Applied Behavioral Analysis
A Certificate of Applied Behavioral Analysis is obtained in roughly a quarter of the time it takes to complete a master’s program. This qualifies students to work specifically with special needs individuals. Credits can be transferred towards a master’s or doctorate’s program at a later time.
Master’s Degree of Applied Behavioral Analysis
Reaching this level would allow degree holders to begin working independently. Students would move from a therapist level and gain the ability and authority to diagnose individuals and develop therapy plans.
Doctorate’s Degree of Applied Behavioral Analysis
Upon reaching the highest level of degree in the ABA field, students earn the ability to branch out to new sectors of the behavioral field. With this degree, an individual can become an instructor or a researcher in their field of work.
Specific Training Outline for ABA Therapists
A prospective ABA therapist will spend many hours doing field training to gain hands-on experience. Here are some of the milestones required during the training process.
- Initial competency exams must be passed. These exams are both oral and written.
- Direct observation will be conducted to determine how an individual responds to the protocols of therapy.
- Students will receive case assignments that match their level of training and level of skill at the time.
- Each student will receive continued training from a Behavioral Analyst.
There is also specific content that will be included in the training process. Individuals are expected to be proficient in the following areas.
- Individuals must be certified to perform CPR.
- All HIPAA and ethical requirements must be met.
- Mandated reporting and knowledge on Autism Spectrum Diagnosis are required.
- Effective data collection and standard ABA procedures must be demonstrated.
- Students must be familiar with all developmental milestones.