Adding a Behavior Analyst Certification to Your Master’s Degree

There has never been a greater need for individuals with a behavior analyst certification. Behavior analysts are best known for helping children with autism, ADHD, and other disabilities succeed in the school setting. However, behavior analysts can also work in areas such as brain injury rehabilitation, behavioral gerontology, sports psychology, substance abuse treatment, and more. They work with a wide range of clients and aim to help increase their quality of life.

Not only is the field of behavior analysts growing rapidly—the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) reported that demand increased by 800 percent from 2010 to 2017—it’s a fulfilling career that uses one’s gifts of observation and analysis balanced with empathy and care.

What Does the Daily Job of a Behavior Analyst Look Like?

Heather Maguire, Psy.D., BCBA-D, is Azusa Pacific University’s board certified behavior analyst (BCBA) program coordinator and an assistant professor in the Department of School Counseling and School Psychology. She explained that behavior analysts make a difference in the lives of individuals and their families as soon as they are paired.

“Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is based upon behavioral science and focuses on improving the lives of individuals by teaching them adaptive and appropriate behavior,” Maguire said. “Specific skills taught include communication, self-help, and social skills.” Additionally, she shared that behavior analysts also train parents, teachers, and behavior technicians so that all components of the program are implemented successfully for the individual.

“This evidence-based approach requires comprehensive assessment in which BCBAs observe behavior, collect and analyze data, and carefully develop intervention programs,” Maguire said.

Career Options for Behavior Analysts

While many behavior analysts choose to work in school or home settings, they also work in sectors like health care and social assistance. Here are just a few of the organizations that hire and benefit from the work of skilled behavior analysts:

  • K-12 public or private schools
  • Correctional institutions
  • Hospitals
  • Public and private mental health practices
  • Residential care
  • Social services

Adding a Behavior Analyst Certificate to Your Degree

In the past, only students pursuing a master’s degree in education or psychology had the option of also earning a behavior analyst certificate. However, the BACB updated its requirements to allow any individual with a master’s degree from an accredited university to become certified. Here’s what is changing:

  • If you are approved to sit for the BCBA Examination in 2022 or later: You will have 2,000 clinical hours to complete and can hold a master’s degree in any subject from an accredited university.
  • If you are approved to sit for the BCBA Examination before 2022: You will have 1,500 clinical hours to complete and must have a master’s degree in psychology or education.

This change opens up more career opportunities for many individuals. Adding this certificate can also help you in your current field, especially if you work as a:

  • Social worker
  • Marriage and family therapist
  • Speech and language pathologist
  • Clinical psychologist
  • Teacher
  • School psychologist
  • School counselor
  • School administrator

Making a Difference with APU’s BCBA Program

The BCBA Certificate program at Azusa Pacific University gives students hands-on experience to help others reduce harmful or counterproductive behaviors while also increasing their success in learning and relationships. Thanks to the new board-level requirements, an APU behavior analyst certification can be added on to any master’s degree program.

With APU’s program, students can meet the educational requirements for certification within as little as 10 months and be prepared to take the Board Certified Behavior Analyst Examination after they complete their field hours.

The APU difference is seen and felt from the very first class because knowledge isn’t just taught from textbooks but from experienced faculty like Maguire who are practicing BCBAs. As students develop an understanding of how to treat behavior issues, they are gaining practical skills to serve individuals well and evolve with their ongoing needs.

Want to learn how APU’s BCBA certificate program can help broaden your career opportunities? Find out more about the program today.