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FAQ’s About Behavior Analysis and Science Practitioners


Are BCBA®s in demand and how much do they make?

The demand for well-trained Board Certified Behavior Analysts® is very high and continues to grow every year. Currently, there is an average of about 4 job openings available for every Board Certified Behavior Analyst® ( Download the PDF file accessibility viewer plug-in here. Salaries for behavior analysts will vary depending on the employment setting and the type of work performed within that setting. To get an idea regarding average expected earnings review current employment ads by going to the California Association for Behavior Analysis website or International Association for Behavior Analysis website. You can also obtain the Behavior Analyst Workforce-Demand report released by the Behavior Analysis Certification Board® in their October 2015 Newsletter


Click here for a PDF file released by the Association of Professional Behavior Analysts for additional information on salary and job demand.


What is a Behavior Analyst?

A behavior analyst is concerned with improving and understanding human behavior (Cooper, Heron, & Heward, 2007). A behavior analyst uses direct observation and experimentation to find causes for desired and undesired behaviors. Behavior analysts design strategies to alter socially significant behavior by changing existing behaviors, teaching new behaviors, teaching what behaviors are appropriate to use in different situations, and consistently evaluating the effectiveness of their behavioral interventions. To learn more about the criterion for judging research and practice in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) as well as the scope of work in the science, see Baer, Wolf, and Risley (1968/1987).


 What is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst® (BCBA®)?

A behavior analyst is Board Certified by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board® (BACB®) after passing the BCBA certification exam. To sit for the exam, a candidate must apply to the BACB® providing evidence of having a minimum of a master's degree, completion of 270 classroom hours of graduate level instruction in the specified content areas established by the BACB®, and accumulated supervised experience hours that meet the BACB® standards. For more specific information regarding the certification process, you may visit the BACB® home page by clicking on this link.


The MS in Applied Behavior Analysis (MS-ABA) program at California State University, Northridge has been approved by the BACB® to meet the course work requirements.


What do BCBAs do?

The career options of behavior analysts are limitless since the research, scope, and practice of behavior analysts vary tremendously (see for various special interests). Many behavior analysts also hold licenses in clinical psychology, psychiatry, educational psychology, and more. Depending on state funds and regulations, behavior analysts work with people of all ages (i.e., from early childhood to geriatrics) and in any setting (e.g., home, school, hospital, residential facility, rehabilitation center, research lab or a place of business). Behavior analysts may directly work or consult with organizations or programs. The scope of ABA includes, but is not limited to: developmental disabilities (e.g. Autism, Mental Retardation), severe problems (e.g. Schizophrenia), anxiety, parenting, marital conflict, gerontology, behavioral medicine, sexual dysfunction, addiction, crime and delinquency, school, and classroom and organizational management.

Despite the age of client, setting, and/or scope, the typical work of a BCBA  includes:

1) Interview and learn more about target behaviors of client(s);

2) Conduct direct and indirect assessments and analysis of behavior(s);

3) Propose strategies for behavior change based on assessment results and knowledge of effective treatment plans for similar issues;

4) Implement the intervention;

5) Collect data before and during the intervention;

6) Evaluate effectiveness of behavioral  intervention;

7) Make modifications if necessary and plan for maintenance and generalization.   

Since behavior analysis covers a broad scope, according to BACB® GUIDELINES FOR RESPONSIBLE CONDUCT, behavior analysts must:

(1.02a) Provide services, teach, and conduct research only within the boundaries of their competence, based on their education, training, supervised experience, or appropriate professional experience

(1.03) Behavior analysts who engage in assessment, therapy, teaching, research, organization consulting, or other professional activities maintain a reasonable level of awareness of current scientific and professional information in their fields of activity, and undertake ongoing efforts to maintain competence in the skills they use by reading the appropriate literature, attending conferences and conventions, participating in workshops, and/or obtaining Behavior Analyst Certification Board® certification.


Who should pursue certification in behavior analysis and why?

You should pursue this certification if you enjoy working directly with clients and organizations or see yourself consulting with schools and businesses. Many interested candidates of this program have been exposed to the field because they have worked under the supervision of clinical directors and/or BCBA®s carrying out behavioral plans with children who have special needs in the client’s home or school. BCBA®s are trained to make effective change in the lives of their clients and those involved in the clients’ lives, therefore, BCBA®s are marketable and in high demand.    






Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis

A partnership between the Department of Psychology, College of Social and Behavioral Science and the Tseng College.