How Long Does It Take to Get Your BCBA Certification?

How Long Does It Take to Get your BCBA Certification?
Jan 12, 2024 Reading time : 6 min

There are different stages of becoming a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). Firstly, you will have to undergo several years of post-graduate education plus work experience before you can start applying for certification. 

One would want to apply for BCBA because they are more interested in the fieldwork and love working with children with special needs. 

The BCBA is a graduate-level exam that is conducted to test the professionals who have met the board’s stringent standards and can help children with special needs. 

How Long Does it Take to Become a BCBA?

The timeline largely depends on the course one is undertaking. However, the approximate time that you can take to get your BCBA certification is six to ten years, inclusive of both undergraduate and graduate degrees with good marks in the exam.

Under normal circumstances, it will take you at least four years to complete an undergraduate degree and two extra years to obtain a master’s degree. After that, you will be required to complete 1,500 hours of supervised fieldwork in your area of specialty.

It is possible to complete the supervised fieldwork within a year. But it can sometimes go beyond that, depending on the institution or your pace of study.

Beginning the Process

There are several qualifications that you must fulfill if you aspire to become a board-certified behavior analyst. The role of the Analyst Certification Board (BACB) is to oversee regulations that govern applied behavior analysts to maintain professionalism and high standards of ethics.

The BACB has a list of requirements that anyone who wants to become a BCBA must meet. Some requirements include educational qualifications and previous work experience.

Requirements of Becoming a BCBA 

The BCBA exam is not a piece of cake and if you want to become a BCBA professional then there are certain requirements that need to be fulfilled. But before going on this career hunt, we urge you must give the BCBA website a quick read-through. Mentioned below is everything you need to know regarding the certificate program.

A Degree in Any Relevant Field

A board-certified behavior analyst generally requires a degree in a relevant field such as psychology, medicine, or education. Before enrolling in a master’s program, you must have completed a bachelor’s degree for at least four years. A master’s degree takes roughly two years at most Universities in the United States.

Enrol in a Certified Applied Behavior Analysis Master’s course

After completing your undergraduate degree, to pursue a career as a BCBA, the next step is to look for master’s programs that offer accredited or certified courses by the Analyst Certification Board (ACB).

Such programs include psychology, behavior analysis, early childhood education, special education, and nursing or medicine.

Below are the minimum hours of study for all courses focused on ABA therapy:

  • 45 hours of professional conduct and ethics
  • 45 hours of fundamental elements of behavior change
  • 30 hours of behavior-analytic content
  • 20 hours of experimental design
  • 30 hours of assessment and identification of customer needs
  • 10 hours of every intervention and behavior change

Supervised Fieldwork with an ABA Therapist

After completing your coursework, you are supposed to finish a specified amount of supervised experience with patients. Fieldwork and practical experience are significant for any certificate course.  This can be either 1,500 supervised work, 1,000 hours of practicum work, or 500 hours of intensive practicum work.

If you think the fieldwork is relatively easy, think again. This aspect of the whole course is considered more difficult because you’ll have a supervisor overlooking your progress all the time. 

Board Certification Exam

The last step towards becoming a BCBA is creating an account with the BACB and completing the board certification exam online. You can only qualify for the exam after providing all the required paperwork, such as course grades, supervisor reports, and other relevant information.

In a nutshell, it takes time and effort to get your BCBA certification. You need to opt for some different tips to help you learn more effectively if you want to pass this exam. You need to ensure that you have undergone all the required processes and passed your exams before obtaining the certification.

Apply for Certificate 

After you have successfully passed the exam the next step is to get your certificate. Now the requirement for a License and the certificate depends on different states, some demand them, and some don’t. Not only that but in some states you are required to renew your certificate every two years to continue practicing. 

Organizations like offer BCBA certification to interested candidates. You can visit their website to learn more.

The BACB Exam

The exam is divided into two sections, section 1 which is the foundation, and section 2 which is application based. 

Section 1 

The first section contains 71 questions which make up about 40% of the total grade. These questions include topics like: 

  1. Concepts and Principles – 32 questions
  2. Philosophical Underpinnings – 6 questions
  3. Experimental Design – 12 questions
  4. Measurement, Data Display, and Interpretation – 21 questions

Section 2 

The second section contains 104 questions which makes up about 60% of the total grade. These questions include topics like: 

  1. Personnel Supervision and Management – 17 questions
  2. Selecting and Implementing Interventions – 16 questions
  3. Behavior-change Procedures – 35 questions
  4. Behavior Assessment – 18 questions
  5. Ethics – 18 questions


So now you know becoming a BCBA takes about 6 to 8 years and 2000 hours of fieldwork to get your BCBA certificate. Hope the article provided all the necessary information and won’t have to jump from site to site anymore. For more information visit the BCBA official site.

Frequently Asked Questions
How fast can I become a BCBA?

Generally, it takes up to four years to complete your bachelor’s and another two years for your master’s. In addition to that, you’ll have to complete 2000 hours of fieldwork which may take up an additional year. So in total, to become a BCBA you’ll require at least four to eight years to complete this course. 

How many hours do you need for BCBA certification? 
What can you do with a BCBA certification?

The BCBAs very often have successful careers and serve children with special needs and can show their expertise under the following roles: human resource director or manager, marketing consultant, criminal profiler, insurance care advocate, substance abuse program coordinator, and clinical researcher. 

Zayn Tindall
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Zayn Tindall