How to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA)


Requirements Pathway 2 For those Applying after January 1, 2022

If you are a young student considering your future, or a seasoned professional looking for a rewarding career, the field of applied behavior analysis may be for you. If you are considering becoming a behavior analyst, having a passion for children of different developmental disabilities is an important trait to have in order to feel content in your work. If you feel this career may be for you, we encourage you to read through our blog posts to learn more about the rapidly growing field of behavior analysis.

Did you know that there are currently over 40 thousand certified behavior analysts practicing around the world? To put that number into perspective let us mention that in the year 2000 there were only 392 certified analysts in the field! In just 20 years, the science of Behavior Analysis has gained much respect in the differently abled community, by implementing behavioral principals to help children improve self-care, play, motor skills, language, academic, and living skills.

Like any profession, the process to the become a behavior analyst is not necessarily a simple one, but it can be done! Here at, we pride ourselves in providing you the must up to date information on the field of Applied Behavior Analysis also known as “ABA”. We have taken the most important information on the how to become a Bored Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA for short) and have broken it down in laymen terms for you to better understand. So without further ado, let’s get started shall we?


First and for most you must receive a master’s degree in psychology, behavior analysis, or education from an accredited institution in the United States. We recommend University of Cincinnati's Online ABA Masters Program.

Applying to the University of Cincinnati can be done in just a few simple steps! 

1. Submit your unofficial transcript from your Bachelors program

2.Submit two letters of professional reference Via email

3.Submit your resume

4. Submit a goal statement describing your future ambitions in the field of ABA.

That's it! You will know if you've been accepted into the program within 2-4 weeks!

To learn more about their program or to apply click here. 


Alongside having a Masters degree you must also complete behavior analytic coursework. This coursework is essentially a sequence of graduate level classes in Applied Behavior Analysis that are offered at Universities around the country. According to the BACB the coursework must meet the following criteria.

  • Must be taken at a qualifying institution
  • Must be undergraduate level and from the qualifying institution at which you were enrolled
  • Must be taken for academic credit
  • You must have received at the least a “C” or better for graded courses or “pass” in a pass/fail
  • The coursework must cover the required content in the BACB’s Task List (5th edition) and Coursework Requirements

Do not overthink this criteria too much, as long as you find a legitimate Graduate program, there is a high probability they have done their part in ensuring their course sequence is up to date and approved by the BACB. Just be sure to keep your grades up (C’s are the minimum, but A’s are always encouraged)!


Okay here is where it gets tricky. In order to sit for the BCBA exam you must collect a total of 2000 supervised fieldwork hours. A trainees primary focus and intention while acquiring these hours should be learning the skills necessary to interact effectively with consumers, supervisors, and families as a BCBA. According to the BACB Fieldwork hours may be earned in the following ways.

  • Conducting assessments such as stimulus preference assessment, functional assessments, or staff performance assessments
  • Designing, implementing, and systematically monitoring skill-acquisition and behavior reduction programs
  • Writing behavior/treatment plans, progress summaries, clinical notes, transition summaries, and professional correspondence
  • Training others, designing behavioral systems, and performance management
  • Communicating and collaborating effectively with caregivers and other professionals
  • Other activities normally performed by a behavior analyst that are directly related to behavior analysis such as attending planning meetings regarding the behavior-analytic program and researching the literature that is relevant to a current client’s programming

When it comes to collecting your fieldwork hours it is important to understand that there are two categories in which the activities you preform may fall under. These categories will either be considered as “Restricted activities” or “Unrestricted activities”.

What does this mean? Let’s discuss.

Restricted Hours: The BACB has deemed restricted hours as “time spent delivering therapeutic and instructional procedures during fieldwork”. This means that hours spent working with a client out in the field as an RBT or BCaBA, can go towards your restricted hours. However, The BACB has set a restriction on these hours! Restricted activities may not exceed more than 40% of your total fieldwork hours (2000 total fieldwork hours). In total you may collect a maximum of 800 hours when it comes to restricted activities.

Unrestricted Hours: The BACB considers unrestricted hours as activities that are most likely to be performed by a BCBAs. Unrestricted activities must comprise of at least 60% of the total fieldwork hours. Meaning you must have a minimum of 1200 hours recorded as unrestricted. You of course, are also free to exceed this minimum requirement! The BACB considers unrestricted activities to include, but not are not limited to:

  • Observation and data collection
  • Training staff and caregivers on behavior-analytic programs or content
  • Conducting assessments related to the need for behavioral intervention
  • Meeting with clients about behavior-analytic programming and services

Please also keep in mind that no fewer than 20 hours but no more than 130 hours of fieldwork may be counted per month.


  • Trainees are strongly encouraged by the BACB to have multiple experiences with different settings, populations and supervisors while collecting fieldwork hours!
  • If you feel you would like to earn fieldwork hour experience at a faster pace, feel free to ask your supervisor(s) for ways you can help them! More than likely they will be happy to give you projects to work on to use towards your fieldwork experience.

(Unacceptable activates) While on the topic, it is important we also discuss what the BACB considers as “unacceptable activities” that may not go towards your fieldwork experience. Afterall, only behavior-analytic activities may be counted towards fieldwork requirements. According to the BACB examples of such activities include, but are not limited to:

  • Attending meetings with little or no behavior-analytic content
  • Providing interventions that are not based in behavior analysis
  • Performing nonbehavioral administrative activities
  • Non-behavior-analytic trainings related to service delivery (e.g., crisis management, CPR, billing systems)
  • Completing nonbehavioral assessments (e.g., diagnostic assessments, intellectual assessments), paperwork, documentation, billing, or any other activities that are not directly related to behavior analysis
  • Attending professional conferences, workshops, or university courses
  • Didactic-course assignments

Important note!

Trainees may not start accumulating fieldwork hours until they have:

  • Started qualifying coursework for BCBA certification (they may begin accruing hours after attending the first class meeting); and
  • Secured a qualified supervisor (see Supervisor Qualifications above).

Please see the breakdown of the information we just discussed in the table below.

Required Fieldwork hours 2000
Supervisory Period 1 calendar month
Minimum number of supervisor- Trainee Contacts per Supervisory period 4 contacts
Observation of Trainee with Client per Supervisory Period 1 observation
Supervised Hours per supervisory period 5%
Individual Supervision hours per Supervisory period At least 50% of supervised hours must be individual (i.e., group supervision may not exceed 50%).
Unrestricted hours At least 60% of supervised fieldwork must be spent engaged in unrestricted activities.
Restricted Hours Unrestricted activities may not comprise more than 40% of the total fieldwork hours

Application Fees

Certification Application $245
Examination Retake Application (within 2 year period after initial BACB approval) $140
Examination Appointment (paid to Pearson VUE) $125

The information provided by comes straight from the credentialing board of behavior analysis (BACB). ABA Source is not in any way sponsored, endorsed or affiliated with the BACB®

BCBA Commonly Asked Questions

Leave a comment

All blog comments are checked prior to publishing
You have successfully subscribed!
This email has been registered