Behavioral Banter 3

A Behaviorist’s Blog

Richard Couch, PhD, BCBA-D
CLASS Director of Research and Staff Development


Welcome to another posting of Behavioral Banter, a periodic blog written to educate, entertain, and encourage those who care about services for individuals with special needs and their families.  In subsequent postings you will find a Behaviorist’s view of various topics ranging from the philosophical to the legislative, and from in-home programs to life after public education.  This blog will address concerns affecting all of us who care about the application of behavioral principals (Applied Behavior Analysis) as we strive to improve the human condition.


Today’s topic:  On Terms, Behavior Analysts, Behavior Analyst Assistants, and Registered Behavior Technicians


“The Behavior Analysis Certification Board is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation established in 1998 to meet professional credentialing needs identified by behavior analysts, governments, and consumers of behavior analysis services.  The BACB’s certification requirements, exam content, and procedures undergo regular review according to international standards for organizations that grant professional credentials.  All BACB requirements and exam content are established by content experts in the discipline” (from the BACB website


The Behavior Analysis Certification Board offers several credentials.  Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) certification requires a graduate degree from an approved university, advanced training in behavior analysis, and a passing score on the BCBA exam along with a criminal background check.  Additionally, the Behavior Analysis Certification Board offers a doctoral designation (BCAB-D) for Board Certified Behavior Analysts with doctoral or post-doctoral training in behavior analysis.


The Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA) is an undergraduate-level certification in behavior analysis.  BCaBAs must complete specific coursework from an approved university, pass the BACB exam for BCaBAs, and complete a criminal background check.  Professionals who are certified at the BCaBA level may not practice independently, but must be supervised by someone certified at the BCBA/BCBA-D level.  BCaBAs can supervise the work of Registered Behavior Technicians, and others who implement behavior-analytic interventions.


The Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) is a paraprofessional who practices under the close, ongoing supervision of a BCBA, or BCBA-D.  The RBT is primarily responsible for the direct implementation of behavior-analytic services. The RBT does not design intervention or assessment plans.  RBTs must be 18 years of age, possess a minimum of a high school diploma or national equivalent, complete 40 hours of training, complete a criminal background check, pass the RBT Competency Assessment, and pass the BACB RBT exam.


All Board certified credential holders adhere to the Professional and Ethical Compliance Code for Behavior Analysts.  The compliance code outlines the professional and ethical requirements for all BACB applicants, certificants, registrants, approved continuing education (ACE) providers.  Each certification renewal cycle (every two years) BCBAs and BCaBAs must complete 32 approved continuing education units of which four are in ethics and three are in supervision.


The Center for Learning and Autism Support Services is relentless in the search for the best and the brightest of Board Certified staff and those who demonstrate such potential.  At this time CLASS has two BCBA-Ds: the Director of Clinical Operations and the Director of Research and Staff Development.  Regional Directors are licensed/certificated staff with many years of experience providing in-home services and supervision of staff that do the same.  The Clinical Supervisor staff consists of BCBAs, and those who are enrolled in or just finishing graduate programs in applied behavior analysis, in preparation to sit for the BACB exam to become BCBAs at the Director level.  All of us at CLASS continually encourage talented behavior interventionist staff to pursue a degree in a course sequence leading to the Registered Behavior Technician certification.


CLASS staff have come from far and wide places with varied experiences.  For example, in the Great North Bay Region (GNB) of CLASS we have a Regional Director with over 30 years of experience with a PhD in child psychology, and developmental psychology, along with a post-doctoral fellowship in special education – all specializing in applied behavior analysis.  One of the two Clinical Directors in the GNB has several years of both center-based and in-home intervention, as well as supervisorial experience.  And the other Clinical Director in the GNB was a physician who pursued behavioral training and certification before coming to CLASS!


Regardless of BACB certification, all CLASS staff share the goal of improving the human condition via the principles of applied behavior analysis; making a difference in the lives of our clients and their families.  Let’s make a difference where we can — that’s one [radical] behaviorist’s opinion.