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When a child with autism goes to ABA Therapy, they can interact with multiple professionals and individuals trained to give them the help they need. One of these is a BCBA or a board-certified behavior analyst. BCBAs are graduate-level healthcare professionals that work with patients to provide behavior-analytic services. This is one of the highest levels of expertise in ABA therapy.
At Circle Care, our BCBAs oversee a team of ABA-trained professionals to ensure the highest levels of patient care. They adhere to a set of ethical standards that ensures that all Circle Care employees remain passionate about effecting change in each and every one of our young clients.
What does a BCBA do?
A BCBA is a graduate-level healthcare professional specializing in behavioral analysis and skills acquisition.
They perform the following functions:
1. Observe and Analyze Childhood Behaviors
A BCBA remains at the core of ABA therapy by administering an initial assessment of patients to observe and assess behavior. BCBAs interview parents, caretakers, and close relatives about the patient to learn about their likes and dislikes.
They will look for behavioral signs of developmental disorders such as autism. Then develop a treatment plan for changing, maintaining, or eliminating inappropriate behavior.
2. Supervise Registered Behavior Technicians
BCBAs guide and supervise ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) therapists and RBTs (Registered Behavior Technicians) implementing the treatment programs. The BCBA will oversee as many as ten or twelve RBTs weekly by reviewing the data they keep as they work through the treatment plan with the client.
At Circle Care, this includes supervising the RBTs who come into the home, school, or clinic setting to put the behavior plan to work on individuals with autism. We believe in a community of support for everyone involved in ABA therapy. Whether you’re an aspiring BCBA, or you’re looking to get a strong start as an ABA provider, Circle Care is the best place to work. With strong clinical oversight, support from the entire staff, and excellent communication among the team, you’ll always feel prepared.
3. Parent Training
Parent training is another duty that BCBAs regularly perform. Not all ABA agencies provide this, but many will offer or require ABA training for parents so that they can understand what is happening during their child’s sessions.
At Circle Care New Jersey and Massachusetts, we strongly encourage parent involvement. Our unique parent training ensures that everyone from our BCBAs to RBTs and parents are working together. At Circle Care, we believe the stronger and more supportive the work environment is, the greater the chance we have of affecting change with our small clients.
4. Behavioral Analysis
The BCBA is trained to do formal behavioral analysis. This includes teaching academic staff how to collect data when assessing problem behaviors for children with autism, for example. This doesn’t often happen because getting accurate data from staff without training in the behavioral sciences is challenging. But there are times when the BCBA can help to train school staff to monitor certain behaviors and then provide suggestions for gaining a student’s compliance in the classroom.
The BCBA is your child’s coach and strategist. They’ve been rigorously educated and professionally trained and will map out your child’s plan to succeed in their behavioral treatment program. The specialized training a BCBA has received has been specifically taught to meet the needs of everyone they work with in professionalism, accuracy, and success. This is evident in the BCBAs that work at Circle Care.
Who does a BCBA treat?
Most BCBAs provide ABA therapy for patients with autism spectrum disorder and developmental disabilities, as with our ABA clinic in New Jersey and Massachusetts. It is the most widely used and respected therapy for children with ASD.
The strength of applied behavior analysis treatment lies in its ability to address several areas, including cognitive, language, self-help, and social.
The highly specialized skills and training a BCBA possesses are also used to treat various behavioral problems, including the following:
- Behavior analysis in brain injury rehabilitation.
- Prevention and behavioral intervention of abused children.
- Behavioral pediatrics.
What’s the Difference Between an RBT and a BCBA?
A BCBA career involves a tremendous amount of studying, diligence, and plain old hard work. The requirements to become a board-certified behavior analyst are similar across most states, including Massachusetts and New Jersey.
As you work through your degree program, you will likely become a Registered Behavior Technician (RBT). Registered Behavior Technicians earn a healthy salary compared to other jobs that do not require a university degree. They are the first responders in delivering behavior-analytic services.
It’s important to note that not all RBTs become BCBA, nor is becoming an RBT required to move into the latter career.
Circle Care Services is working with Felician University to ensure that our RBT therapists can enroll in the BCBA’s accreditation program at a reduced rate.
Additionally, these professionals’ work with Circle Care can count towards the fieldwork requirement of the BCBA certification. Not to mention it provides valuable practical experience in their area of specialization. We know that a supportive company can make all the difference, so we constantly strive to provide opportunities for education and enrichment for the entire team.
Becoming a Registered Behavior Technician (RBT)
Registered Behavior Technicians must be a minimum of 18 years old and require the following qualifications:
- A high school diploma
- Completed 40 hours of training
- Completed initial competency assessment
- Pass your RBT exam.
- Renew annually
Becoming a Board Certified Behavior Analyst
Step #1: Meet BCBA Eligibility Requirements
You can meet the BCBA eligibility requirements to sit for the BCBA exam and become certified in four different tracks or ways. These tracks are determined by the board (Behavior Certification Analyst Board), the international accreditation agency for this profession.
Track 1 – Degree from an ABAI-Accredited or ABAI-Recognized Program
- Earn a graduate degree or higher from an accredited ABAI (Association for Behavior Analysis International) post-secondary institution no older than 2015.
- Complete a total period of supervised practical fieldwork (3,500) hours in applied behavior analysis.
Track 2 – Behavior Analytic Coursework
- Earn a graduate degree or higher from a qualifying post-secondary institution.
- Finished behavior-analytic at a graduate level totaling 315 hours.,
- Complete a total period of (3,500) hours in applied behavior analysis practical fieldwork hours.
Track 3 – Faculty Research and Teaching
- Earn a graduate degree or higher from a qualifying post-secondary institution.
- Obtain three years of full-time work in a faculty position in behavior analysis (this must include research and teaching).
- Finish a total period of (3,500) hours of practical fieldwork in applied behavior analysis.
Track 4 – Postdoctoral Experience
- Obtain a doctoral degree during the past ten years from a qualified institution,
- Have spent a minimum of 10 years full-time practicing behavior analysis,
- Must have completed a minimum of 500 hours of independent fieldwork.
Step #2: Sit and Pass the BCBA board exam
The exam, administered through Pearson VUE, comprises 150 questions and takes about four hours to complete. It is a difficult exam with a passing rate of 63% for first-time test takers.
How do I best prepare for the BCBA exam?
Experts suggest you allocate one to six months to prepare for the BCBA exam prep before sitting for the test.
Once you outline the time you’ll need to study for the exam, the next step is to devise a study plan.
Part of the plan should include downloading or ordering one of the many study guides available, not to mention the hundreds of old tests regularly posted online. The easiest way to find old tests or study guides is to search the Web.
Step #3: Maintain your BCBA certification
According to the Behavior Analyst Certification Board, to maintain your license, a BCBA must obtain 32 CEUs (Continuing Education Units) within the biannual period before their recertification is due.
In addition to the required CEUs, BCBAs must submit complete recertification applications every two years and adhere to the BACB’s ethics requirements. There are additional requirements for BCBAs who supervise others.
What are the continuing education requirements for a BCBA?
The CEUs cover crucial aspects of a BCBA’s career, including supervision and ethics. These continuing education units are critical because they offer new awareness of emerging treatments and help them expand their knowledge. These tools can be directly applied to a BCBA’s current position and positively influence a patient’s treatment.
Lifelong learners belong on our team. When you work at Circle Care, you’re able to learn directly from our clinical director and receive ongoing clinical support to advance your career.
What are Supervision Hours for BCBAs?
Circle Care’s supervision program for aspiring BCBAs provides more support with less headache. Get one-on-one monthly meetings with our clinical director and a single organizational supervisor for all paperwork. No commitment of hours needed, just loads of clinical support! We’ll help build your career through clinical excellence, and help you get ahead of your peers with a strong clinical supervision program! Aspiring BCBAs need strong clinical support to build foundational excellence as an ABA therapy provider.
What is the career outlook for BCBAs?
According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), BCBA job growth is expected to increase by 20% within the next eight years. Since the Behavior Analyst Certification Board began tracking data in 2010, job growth for BCBAs has steadily increased annually.
Between 2010 to 2018, the demand for BCBAs has grown 1,942%. All 50 states have seen this incredible rise in demand. Yet there remain plenty of opportunities for students wanting to become BCBAs.
Salary Expectations for BCBAs
The national yearly salary for a BCBA is $75,784—the entry-level salary averages $51,000 annually. However, BCBAs can earn more depending on the demands of their position.
For instance, if a BCBA has a private practice, they can expect to earn upwards of $100,000 annually. Conversely, if they’re acting as a clinical director, that salary can range between $80,000-$90,000 annually. Their salary will be less if they’re working for a non-profit organization.
The earning potential for a BCBA varies dramatically per city and state. They earn the most in New Jersey, with an annual salary of $83,183. That comes out to $6,931 monthly or $39.99 hourly.
Circle Care offers competitive BCBA salaries with per diem and salaried pay options! Explore our open positions to apply.
Let Circle Care help you Launch a Career as a BCBA.
There is no quick and easy road to becoming a BCBA. However, like most careers in special needs and health care, it is well worth it when you witness your impact on the lives of the children you treat.
BCBAs are fortunate to make significant and measurable differences in the lives of their patients, opening doors to previously unattainable opportunities. If a career as a BCBA is something you’re passionate about and you live in the New Jersey and Massachusetts area, Circle Care Services can help. Reach out to us to learn more about the growing demand for BCBAs, and how you can join our amazing team!