What Is A Board-Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA)?

In this article, we will delve deeper into the world of BCBAs, exploring their role in ABA therapy, the training and certification process, and the methods they use to help their clients.

Alan Hollander
September 13, 2023

What Is A BCBA?

Board-Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs) are professionals who specialize in the application of behavioral principles to improve the lives of individuals with developmental disabilities, mental health issues, and other behavioral disorders.

Board-Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs) are highly trained professionals who apply their knowledge of behavioral principles to help individuals with developmental disabilities, mental health issues, and other behavioral disorders. They work in a variety of settings, including schools, hospitals, clinics, and homes.

A BCBA's main goal is to improve the lives of their clients by developing and implementing effective behavior intervention plans.

These plans are tailored to the individual needs of each client and may involve teaching new skills or modifying existing behaviors.

To become a BCBA, individuals must first earn a graduate degree in behavior analysis or a related field. They must then complete a specific number of supervised hours working with clients before they can sit for the board certification exam.

The certification process is rigorous and requires individuals to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of behavior analysis principles. Once certified, BCBAs must adhere to strict ethical guidelines and participate in ongoing professional development activities to maintain their certification. Getting a BCBA job is a straightforward process once you are certified.

What Does a BCBA Do?

A BCBA is a specialist who uses the principles of behavior analysis to help individuals with behavioral issues.

They work with clients of all ages, ranging from young children with autism to adults with addiction issues. Their primary goal is to help their clients achieve meaningful and positive changes in their behavior.

The role of a BCBA involves a wide range of activities, including:

  1. Assessing client behavior and developing treatment plans
  2. Implementing treatment plans and monitoring client progress
  3. Modifying treatment plans as needed to ensure progress
  4. Collaborating with other professionals, such as doctors and therapists, to provide comprehensive care
  5. Providing training and education to clients, families, and caregivers

The BCBA's job is to help their clients learn new skills, reduce problem behaviors, and increase positive behaviors. They work with clients to identify their strengths and weaknesses, then develop a personalized treatment plan that targets specific behaviors.

This plan is based on scientific principles, and the BCBA uses data to evaluate the effectiveness of the plan and make adjustments as needed.

Training and Certification

To become a BCBA, a person must complete a rigorous training program and pass a certification exam. The requirements for certification include:

  1. A graduate degree in behavior analysis or a related field
  2. Supervised experience working with clients
  3. Completion of a behavior analysis course sequence
  4. Passing the BCBA certification exam

The certification process ensures that BCBAs have a thorough understanding of behavior analysis principles and have demonstrated the ability to apply them in real-world settings. It also ensures that BCBAs adhere to a strict code of ethics, which includes a commitment to treating clients with respect, honesty, and integrity.

Methods Used by BCBAs

BCBAs use a variety of methods to help their clients achieve their goals. These methods may include:

  1. Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) - ABA is a scientific approach to behavior change that involves breaking down complex behaviors into smaller, more manageable steps. This allows the BCBA to teach new skills and reinforce positive behaviors.
  2. Positive Reinforcement - Positive reinforcement involves providing rewards or incentives for positive behaviors. This helps to increase the likelihood that the behavior will be repeated in the future.
  3. Negative Reinforcement - Negative reinforcement involves removing a negative stimulus when a positive behavior is exhibited. For example, a child may stop crying when given a toy to play with, which reinforces the behavior of playing with the toy.
  4. Punishment - Although punishment is used less frequently than other methods, it can be effective in some cases. Punishment involves providing a negative consequence for negative behavior, with the goal of reducing the likelihood that the behavior will be repeated.

Day In The Life Of A BCBA

A day in the life of a BCBA can be quite varied and challenging. Each day brings new clients, new challenges, and new opportunities to make a difference in someone's life.

A typical day might start with an assessment of a new client's behavior. The BCBA will observe the client, collect data on their behavior, and develop a treatment plan based on the data collected.

Next, the BCBA may spend time working directly with clients, either one-on-one or in group settings. This might involve teaching new skills or reinforcing positive behaviors.

Throughout the day, the BCBA will need to monitor progress and make adjustments to treatment plans as needed. They may also need to communicate with other professionals involved in the client's care, such as doctors or therapists.

In addition to working directly with clients, BCBAs also spend time on administrative tasks such as writing reports or updating treatment plans. They may also provide training and education to clients' families and caregivers.

Overall, being a BCBA requires a unique combination of analytical skills, compassion, and creativity. It can be a challenging but rewarding career that allows individuals to make a real difference in people's lives.


Board-Certified Behavior Analysts play a critical role in helping individuals with behavioral issues achieve positive changes in their lives.

Through their extensive training and use of scientific methods, BCBAs are able to provide effective treatment plans that help their clients learn new skills and reduce problem behaviors. If you or a loved one are struggling with a behavioral issue, consider reaching out to a BCBA for help.