What’s the point of supervision?

Whether you are just investigating this whole ABA track, or just beginning your supervision journey, this information will help you understand the nature of supervision.  Before I started supervision, I was overwhelmed by the number of options and didn’t know where to start. I created this quick start guide to help pave the way for an easy understanding of the purpose of supervision for BCBA/BCaBA certification. 

The purpose of BCBA/BCaBA supervision is to gain personalized experience with a BCBA and apply behavior-analytic concepts include in the BACB task list, and other applied behavior analysis principles in order to prepare to enter the workforce as a BCBA.


How much supervision do I need according to the BACB?

For the 4th Edition task list, individualized supervision for BCBA requires 1500 total experience hours, 5% of which are supervised by a BCBA. This equates to approximately 75 hours by the end of your supervision. If you are planning to apply for the exam under the 4th edition, you need to submit your application prior to December 31st, 2021. 

For the 5th edition task list, the BACB is updating the requirements for supervision starting in 2022 requiring 2000 hours of supervision with 5% of those being supervised. There is also a concentrated fieldwork option that requires candidates to obtain 10% supervised hours. Click here for more information.

Individualized supervision for BCaBA requires 1000 total hours, 5% are supervised which equates to approximately 50 hours of supervision. 

For the 5th edition task list, the BACB is updating the requirements for BCaBA supervision starting in 2022 requiring 1300 hours of supervision for BCaBA’s with 5% of those being supervised. Click here for more information.

How long does BCBA/BCaBA supervision take in total?

Supervision for your BCBA takes on average 1.5 – 2 years if you stay on track, a little less for your BCaBA. Students seeking certification can accrue up to 130 experience hours each month, and 6.5 hours of supervision, or time with a supervisor (5%).


When can I start accruing hours?

According to the BACB, you can start supervision as soon as you start your ABA coursework through your accredited program and sign a contract with your supervisor. 

What are acceptable activities for supervision according to the BACB experience standards?


At least 50% of total experience hours must be composed of the following unrestricted activities. There is no limit to unrestricted activities.

  • Conducting assessments related to ABA (preference, FA)
  • Design, implement, systematically monitor skill-acquisition and behavior reduction programs
  • Writing behavior treatment plans, progress summaries, clinical notes, transition summaries
  • Oversee the implementation of behavior-analytic programs by others
  • Training others on task list items and ABA principles
  • Communicating with caregivers and other professionals
  • Attending planning meetings, researching literature that is relevant to current client’s programs


No more than 50% of total experience hours can be restricted.

  • Direct therapy/working directly with clients


What does meeting with my BCBA look like?

Supervision meetings can be in person, or remote. Online supervision can be live video or recorded videos combined with live video meetings. 

These meetings will consist of a combination of observation review, and behavior analytic discussion of problem behaviors, skill acquisition related to specific clients, task analysis review, literature and research review, as well as and current ABA interventions specific to clients.


Your BCBA supervisor will:

  • Monitor skills of the supervisee
  • Give feedback on performance
  • Observe supervisee performance with clients
  • Problem solve, guide development of behavioral case conceptualization
  • Review supervisee written materials (data sheets, BIP, reports)
  • Oversee behavior-analytic service delivery
  • Review task list items
  • Evaluate the effects of supervision throughout

Now that you have a basic understanding of what supervision is like, you can search for a local supervisor in your area by looking at the board website.  You can also ask your current job if there is a BCBA on staff willing to supervise you. If you do not work in a setting where ABA is an option, look into remote supervision.

As always, reach out via email if you have any questions!



-Katherine & Cammie

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