What is a BCBA® Anyways?
A BCBA® is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. Behavior analysts are behavioral scientists who specialize in manipulating the environment to create the appropriate behavior change that we want to see for our clients using the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis.
What Can I Do as a BCBA®?
Simply put, anything! Anything involving behavior that is. Most often, BCBAs are known to work with people with special needs, in particular, individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), but the possibilities are endless for behavior analysts. Human Resources, animal training, sports training, school consulting, health coaches and wellness training, life coaching… the list goes on! Many of these jobs that I just noted have their own special subsect of ABA, such as Organizational Behavior Management (OBM).
What are some examples of jobs as a BCBA®?
As a BCBA, you may find yourself in a clinic working as a program manager, supervisor, or clinical director. In the school system, you could be overseeing a number of students who have been referred to ABA services. Check out our blog post on “A Day in the Life of a School Based BCBA” for more information. Additionally, you may find yourself working in the hospital setting, in a residential environment with children and adults, or maybe even working for yourself consulting across various clients and settings.
How do I find these jobs as a BCBA®?
I have found that the key to working outside of the scope of autism is knowing how to search for what you want. Oftentimes, searching for “BCBA® jobs” or even “ABA” will only yield jobs working with children with autism. Instead, try searching, “behavior management”, or even find a company that you want to work for, and ask them if you can lend your services to them. Explain your level of expertise and market yourself accordingly. Remember, behavior analysts, are ethically bound to seek guidance when operating outside of their expertise. That being said, it is important to find quality supervision that matches your interests as you are becoming a BCBA®. See post on finding quality supervision here for reference.
If there is something that you want to learn how to do, like applying the principles of ABA in an HR kind of situation, seek guidance for someone who has that experience in OBM.
The BACB has a list of jobs that behavior analysts can do on their website as a reference as well. Check it out!
Cammie Morgan, MSC, BCBA, LBA (Hawaii), IBA
First Caffeine, Then Analysis!
As a school-based BCBA, my days begin similarly to a clinic-based Analyst; I wake up, brush my teeth, workout (occasionally), get dressed, load up on caffeine, and head to work. In my office, you’ll find my work computer locked in my desk with my scholar’s files. Inside the scholar, files are documents like their Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) and the referral information that I have received in order for me to begin services. In a school setting, there are a few steps that take place prior to obtaining a scholar on your caseload.
My experience thus far has been completing a few observations of the scholar prior to what is called a Student Focus Team (SFT) meeting. SFT meetings take place with the scholar’s IEP team. In this meeting, the team discusses the need for a Functional Behavior Assessment and me as the Analyst gives the go-ahead to conduct the assessment. After agreeing to conduct a Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA) in the SFT meeting, I have a set amount of time (a total of 45 days in my state) to complete the assessment and report its findings.
Where to Complete the FBA and What’s Next?
I complete each of my FBAs by observing the scholars across various times, settings, and teachers, all within the school setting. Some of my observation locations include the classroom, recess, lunchtime, and in other staff rooms during sessions like speech therapy. I, or my RBT, observes and takes narrative and structured Antecedent Behavior Consequence (ABC) data consistently for at least 5 days. I conduct a FAST interview with the teacher(s) and the parent(s). I then analyze the data by graphing the frequency of each antecedent, consequence, and targeted behavior.
After analyzing the data and studying the graphs, I write my report which includes my graphed data of each antecedent and consequence, a description of the hypothesized function(s) of the behaviors, some examples of environmental changes that I suggest, and a detailed description of my analysis of each of the targeted behaviors. I wrap up my report by recommending suggestions for the family and teacher(s) of the scholar. If the data provides evidence that the scholar could benefit from having a one on one RBT without impeding their learning, I suggest that. I also provide behavioral goal suggestions in my FBA. After the parents and teachers accept the recommendations in my FBA, I write the scholar a Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP).
Another meeting then will be scheduled where I present my BIP. Until the BIP is agreed upon by the IEP team, it is a working document, meaning that the IEP team in the meeting has the ability to ask me about changing and tweaking the BIP until it is agreed upon by the entire team. Once the BIP is agreed upon, I begin writing the scholar’s program goals.
How Can I Be an RBT in a School Setting?
In supervising my RBTs, I stress to them the art of using least to most prompting with assisting the scholar with attending to the teacher and educational assistant and their instructions. This is one of the main differences that I have found from the clinical setting. In theory, my goal for the RBT during group instruction would be for the RBT to silently prompt the scholar, and provide the teacher with the reinforcer to give to the scholar immediately upon appropriately responding, all a while pairing with the scholar, and gaining instructional control during one on one time periods. Oftentimes I have found that teachers simply do not have the luxury of waiting out behaviors as we may in a clinical setting. They have more students to tend to and a school schedule to adhere to, so I also supervise the RBT on how to follow the BIP and intervene for behavior management when necessary.
Behavior Goes Where the Reinforcement Flows
As a school-based BCBA, I consult with each of my teachers for a set amount of time per week as outlined in the scholar’s IEP. I love teacher consultations because this helps me to pair with the teacher, provide the teacher some insight on ABA and the specific methods that I am using with each scholar, and it gives me the ability to understand the teacher’s methods as well. Staff buy-in is everything in a school setting, and PAIRING IS KEY! It is very important to not come across as a know-it-all, arrogant, or as though you are telling the school staff what they are doing wrong. In order to have the most success with suggestions and intervention implementation, the school staff must feel supported by you.
One of my favorite things about being a school-based BCBA is having the ability to collaborate on a daily basis with the teachers and other school staff. We all may come from different disciplines, but with the primary focus being on the scholar, we all come together, kumbaya, and work to crush each goal one day at a time! The way I like to think of it is like this, the teacher states what the academic goal is, and as the Behavior Analyst, I can program for “how” the goal can be taught. Although the school setting is less controlled than the clinical setting, implementing the principles of ABA in this environment has given me the opportunity to apply my skill set to both my scholars and my professional peers, and that is the part that I wouldn’t change for the world. Come on over to the school side y’all!
Like a behavioral cusp, it opens us up to a whole new world!
Cammie Morgan, MSC, BCBA, LBA (Hawaii), IBA
FREE BCBA®/BCaBA® Study Calendar:
We hope to provide some relief by offering free resources during this pandemic for those studying for BCBA®/BCaBA®. Stay inside and healthy everyone.
Check back for more resources soon.
How to Find the Supervisor that is Right for You:
Finding a supervisor that is the right fit for you can be challenging. You may have questions such as, “How will supervision be structured? Does my job offer supervision? How long will it take? Will this supervision prepare me for the test and the ABA world?”
There are a few questions to ask yourself when searching for the right supervisor.
Does my current job offer supervision?
- If you are working in an ABA clinic, your job might include supervision as a part of your benefits. If they do, make sure you ask the right questions about supervision to ensure you are getting quality supervision.
- If you are working for the school system, you may not have access to a supervisor. In this case, you may need to search for a local or remote supervisor.
Remote or in person-supervision?
- Remote supervision is a convenient way to obtain supervision hours while working in your current job.
- Remote supervision includes videos, weekly video calls, and sharing documents.
- In-person supervision can be great if you can find a local supervision near you. Here is where to search for local supervision: BACB Supervision Search
- Check out this link if you are interested in remote supervision to see if I have openings and to see if we are a good match: Remote Supervision
How will supervision be structured?
- The supervision structure is determined by your supervisor. Ultimately, they can choose how to set up meetings and work through concepts. I recommend establishing goals each month to stay on track and ensure you are getting the most out of your supervision.
- Here is a sample of goals you and your supervisor could write together:
||ABA overview; 7 dimensions; 6 attitudes of science; ABC data
Assignments: ABC data collection, pairing protocol, preference assessment
|The Student will understand the foundational knowledge of ABA to begin to apply these concepts to the clinic/school setting.
||Functions of behavior: Assignments: FBA, ABC data continued, QAFB, measurement, data recording, what problem behaviors to consider?
|The student will identify the functions of behavior based on ABC data collection and determine which plans would be appropriate to track in a behavior intervention plan.
Now, let’s talk about quality supervision
Here are a few things that define quality supervision:
- Quality supervision should incorporate applied experiences, task list examples, and ethical considerations that prepare you to pass the test and prepare for the field.
- This supervision should include goals, expectations, and clear guidelines
- You should have the opportunity to practice behavior analytic procedures
- Your supervisor should provide you with unrestricted tasks that fill your unrestricted hour requirement. These include podcasts, assignments, research articles, etc.
- I highly recommend study prep included in your supervision so you don’t have to cram!
- Here are some topics that are not limited to but should absolutely be included in supervision:
- BIP writing
- VBMAPP assessment
- Writing evaluations
- FBA practice (ABC data collection, QAFB, FAST etc.)
- Parent training information
- Writing reauthorization reports
- Protocols (potty training, token economy system etc)
- Intake process
- Test prep!!!
I wrote this blog to help others find the applied experience they need in order to be successful BCBA/BCaBA’s in the future and pass the test in order to get there! I wish someone would have guided me through the process. Email me with questions!
Katherine Kellogg, M.Ed., BCBA
While studying for the BCBA exam, I found it extremely helpful to write my own flashcards. I thought to myself, “if only I had pre-made cards that had the term I needed to know, I could still get the practice of reading and writing my own definitions.” So, here you go! I want to go over how to get the most out of these flashcards by considering fluency and terminology grouping.
As you know, the BCBA exam is timed, so the faster you are able to identify the ABA terminology, the more likely you are to get the question correct. Moving quickly through the flashcards, and increasing your response time will increase your pace. After you write all of the terms and feel confident in their definitions, you should mix them up. Running through the cards mixed will give you a shorter latency, and build fluency!
One benefit to these flashcards is that all of the terms are categorized by related concepts, specifically by Cooper chapters. Studying the terms grouped by chapter will allow your brain to make the connection between concepts. Also, writing down the definitions in this order (rather than alphabetical) will keep you organized as you continue on your studying journey.
I found it extremely helpful to conceptually group the terms I was studying. After you finish writing all of the cards, then you can mix them up for a bigger challenge. Remember, the test is not categorized by terminology or chapter. The test will randomize all concepts, so to get the most out of these flashcards make sure you mix up all concepts so your brain gets used to switching around!
One study tip I like to share: Instead of focusing on how the terms are different from one another, try to discover their relationship. I realized ABA terms are all related in a giant web. Yes, some terms are different from one another, but conceptually they have more relations. Once I realized this the second time studying, concepts began to stick and I was able to apply the terms fluently.
How to use
- Print out the flashcards.
- Use a paper cutter (or scissors) to cut the flashcards. Keep them grouped by page! I recommend cutting them out as you go to help stay organized.
- Start at the beginning, which will start you on Cooper chapter 1.
- After you complete the flashcards, run through them in order several times.
- Once you feel comfortable with all of the concepts, mix and shuffle them to build fluency.
- Carry the flashcards with you and run through the flashcards any chance you get!
I hope you find this free tool useful in your studies! I recommend pairing these flashcards with Cooper readings when finding the definitions. I also recommend utilizing these flashcards with our course and 30 or 60-day study plan. In this study plan, you are given the Cooper page numbers that are associated with each task list and a clear study guide to follow.
All of the terms you need to study for the exam are downloadable here.
Reach out if you have any questions!