How to Represent Your BACB Certification Status

How to Represent Your BACB Certification Status thumbnail

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What’s in a name? When it comes to representing your certification status, the answer is everything.

At some point, you’ve heard us say “Be sure to properly represent your BACB certification status.” But what does that mean? What’s the “proper” way to do it? That’s what we plan to answer in this blog, but here’s the gist of it:

When you refer to your BACB certification, you must refer to its status—whether active, inactive, or somewhere in between—accurately.

It might surprise you how often this comes up in day-to-day life. You refer to your certification status when chatting with friends about your current studies or career. It’s mentioned when you work with peers, clients, parents/guardians, and employers in classrooms and clinical settings. You write it on your resume, job applications, and billing authorizations. It even crops up when you’re training, supervising, or giving lectures.

Two resumes, an envelope, and a billing authorization.

So, here’s another question for you, one that has echoed through school halls and study rooms for centuries: Why does this matter? The truth is that misrepresentation can have real-life consequences, even if done accidentally. In just a minute, we’ll outline how to accurately represent your certification status, but first, we need to discuss why it’s so important:

  • Protecting consumers: Imagine that you’re an RBT applicant. You completed your 40-hour training, studied the materials, and scheduled your exam. Believing that you’ll soon pass, you put that you’re an “RBT Pending Examination” on your resume, and you get a job. Now you’re working with a client one-on-one, but you’re not certified. What if you don’t pass the exam? Uh oh. This is just one example of how misrepresentation can open a can of worms that’s potentially dangerous for you, your employer, and most importantly, your client.
  • Adhering to BACB ethics requirements: As you know, all BACB applicants and certificants are bound by a code of ethics. These codes mandate that behavior analysts and technicians represent themselves accurately, and a violation could put your eligibility or certification at risk. For the details, check out what standard 2.08 of the Ethics Code for Behavior Analysts and standard 3.07 of the RBT Ethics Code (2.0) have to say about misrepresentation.
  • Protecting the value of your certification: All BACB certification marks are registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (among other jurisdictions), and it’s crucial that they’re used correctly. As we mentioned in the July 2021 BACB Newsletter, if we fail to enforce our trademark rights, they could be jeopardized, and BACB certifications could lose their value. For specifics, check out the Guidelines for Use of BACB Intellectual Property.

How-To Guide

In this section, we’ll outline the dos and don’ts of representing your certification status. These guidelines are airtight to avoid any possible confusion, as confused clients and employers are not informed clients and employers. We hope that these examples make your life a little bit easier:

Status Guidelines
Active Certification

A check mark.Represent yourself in the following ways:

  • someone who has an RBT, BCBA, or BCBA-D certification
  • an RBT, BCaBA, BCBA, or BCBA-D certificant
  • a BACB certificant

As a reminder, you don’t need to use the registered trademark symbol when referring to your own certification (e.g., RBT®).


A check mark.Represent yourself as someone working toward national certification.

An X mark.Do not represent yourself in the following ways:

  • someone pending BACB certification
  • an RBT, BCaBA, or BCBA candidate
  • someone who is RBT, BCaBA, or BCBA trained
  • someone who has passed their competency assessment
  • someone who has completed their 40-hour training
Inactive Certification (e.g., on voluntary inactive status, no supervisor)

An X mark.Do not represent yourself as someone who has an active RBT, BCaBA, BCBA, or BCBA-D certification.

As a reminder, those on voluntary inactive status and those who hold an RBT or BCaBA certification but do not have a qualified supervisor on record with the BACB must indicate that their certification is inactive if they need to refer to their certification. For more information, check out the Inactive Policy in the RBT, BCaBA, or BCBA Handbook.

Bonus Tips

  • Don’t say that the BACB licensed you: It’s important to note that there’s a difference between the BACB, which is a credentialing organization, and a licensure board. The BACB provides certifications, not licenses. If you practice in the US and want to learn more, visit the US Licensure of Behavior Analysts web page.
  • Don’t say that the BACB is your employer: Please don’t represent yourself as a BACB employee, as it’s a violation of our Terms of Use. We see this most frequently on social media platforms like LinkedIn. Instead, list your certification in LinkedIn’s License or Certification section.
  • Don’t modify BACB trademarks: In the past, we’ve seen some funny takes on BACB certification marks, such as “BCBA-CS” for “BCBA consulting supervisor.” While we must give points for creativity, BACB trademarks aren’t a choose your own adventure. Please only use them as intended: RBT, BCaBA, BCBA, and BCBA-D.

How to Address Misrepresentation

A man and a woman having a conversation and gesturing with their hands.

Now that you know what to do and why, let’s talk about misrepresentation in the real world: What should you do if you see someone misrepresenting their certification status? What if that person is you?

The first step is to gently correct if possible. If the issue persists, the second step is to report it to all relevant entities (e.g., BACB, licensure board).

You Misrepresented Your Status

Let’s say that while reading this blog, you realized that you’ve been misrepresenting your certification status. Don’t panic! If you can, fix the error. Change your social media bio, revise your resume, contact the website’s administrator, shout your true certification status from the mountain tops—whatever you need to do. If you can’t fix the error yourself, tell your supervisor (if you have one), document your attempts to correct it, and self-report to the BACB through the Ethics Self-Reporting Form. Don’t forget to include your documentation in the submission.

Someone Else Misrepresented Their Status

If you notice that someone else is misrepresenting their certification status, follow the same procedure. First, give them an opportunity to fix the error. Here’s one way to begin that conversation:

A woman saying

“I hope you’re doing well. I just checked out your social media profile, and I’m so excited to see that you’re in a behavior analysis program. I’m not sure if you’re aware, but you can’t represent yourself as a BCBA (or a BCBA in training) until you’ve passed the exam, as it might be confusing. The BACB has clear guidelines on what’s acceptable. Can I share some resources with you, or could we hop on a call to chat about it?”

You don’t have to repeat this word-for-word, but it’s a good start.

If you aren’t comfortable reaching out to this person, or if they fail to fix the error, please report them to the BACB through the Reporting Infringement or Misuse Form. We’ll take it from there.

In summary, to represent your certification status properly, you should follow our guidelines and be as clear as possible when communicating with others. Taking misrepresentation seriously benefits your clients, your employer, and you. If you see misrepresentation in the wild, please take all appropriate steps to address it.

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog post. Your willingness to learn more about these topics helps uphold the integrity your certification. If you have any questions or concerns, please get in touch through the Contact Us Form.

Now Available: 2021 BCBA and BCaBA Examination Pass Rates for Verified Course Sequences

The BACB has compiled 2021 pass rates for first-time BCBA and BCaBA examination candidates in university training programs with ABAI Verified Course Sequences. The data are sorted alphabetically by university, by the percentage of passing candidates, and by the volume of candidates from a given program.

PsycInfo Database Now Available to BCBAs and BCaBAs

We recently added the PsycInfo database to the ProQuest search engine available to BCBAs and BCaBAs through the Resources tab in their BACB accounts. In addition to the ERIC database, ProQuest now pulls from PsycInfo, the most comprehensive database for psychology and behavioral sciences. BCBAs and BCaBAs can now more effectively search for literature on a particular topic.

5 Must-Know RBT Application Tips

Clocks with a red banner that says Applications

Whether you’re submitting an RBT Initial Certification Application or completing your annual RBT Renewal Application, we understand that time is of the essence. We want you to have all of the information you need for a quick and painless application experience. That way, you’ll feel well-equipped to move forward with your application and to achieve your goals as an RBT.

So, before you click Submit, read ahead for tips on getting started, creating and/or maintaining your BACB account, thoroughly reviewing your documentation, and understanding the key differences between an RBT Initial Certification Application and an RBT Renewal Application.

Tip #1: Consult the RBT Handbook

For all RBT applicants, new or renewing, the RBT Handbook should be your go-to resource. In it, you’ll find helpful information about eligibility requirements, the application process, and requirements for renewing your RBT certification. We also suggest reviewing the handbook with your RBT Supervisor or RBT Requirements Coordinator, as they can help answer any questions you might have.

Tip #2: Give yourself enough time to prepare

This is vital! Because there are many moving parts in the application process, giving yourself ample time to prepare is one of the best things you can do. If you plan accordingly, you’ll have all the time you need to carefully review your materials, which may prevent application errors that cause processing delays beyond the standard 2-week timeline. This is especially important if you’re submitting an RBT Renewal Application. For specifics, check out the following application timelines:

Wondering when you’ll hear back about your application? You can see current application processing times on the Application Processing Updates web page.

Tip #3: Create and/or maintain your BACB account

Your BACB account is the doorway to your certification, and that certification belongs to you and only you. That said, here are a few things to keep in mind when creating and/or maintaining your BACB account:

  • Create your BACB account yourself. Don’t have anyone, including your future RBT Supervisor or employer, create your account on your behalf.
  • Don’t use your work or school email address when signing up. If you use your work or school email address to sign up, you may lose access to your BACB account if you lose access to that email address in the future. It’s always best to sign up using a personal email address.
  • Reach out to the BACB for assistance. If you lose access to your account for any reason, let us know through the Contact Us Form, and we’ll help you access your existing account. Please do not create a new account.
  • Keep all of your information current. If your address, name, or other personal information changes, be sure to update your account right away.
  • Add to your email contacts and list of safe senders. This way, you can ensure that you’ll receive important messages. Also, be sure to check your spam folder periodically, especially if you’re waiting to hear from us.

Tip #4: Carefully review your documentation

When you’re eager to submit an application, it’s easy to accidentally forget a key piece, like a document, attestation, or signature. The problem is that a missing piece can make the application process not-so-easy. If documentation is missing, incorrect, or does not indicate that you meet the necessary requirements, you’ll experience delays in processing times, as the review process starts over each time you resubmit.

To avoid delays as best you can, consider reaching out to your current or future RBT Supervisor or RBT Requirements Coordinator for additional support—and make sure to review these essential documentation requirements:

RBT Initial Certification Application RBT Renewal Application
  • All documentation must be uploaded in the RBT tab of your BACB account. Multipage documents must be combined into a single file, as each section of the application only allows 1 attachment.
  • All documentation must be correct and complete (i.e., all necessary boxes are checked; all required dates, signatures, and pages are included).
  • The RBT 40-Hour Training Certificate must include this statement: This training program was based on the RBT Task List (2nd ed.) and is designed to meet the 40-hour training requirement for RBT certification. The program is offered independent of the BACB.
  • The RBT Initial Competency Assessment must be completed within 90 days of submitting your application payment, and the assessor (and/or assistant assessor) must:
    • complete all applicable fields,
    • initial all applicable tasks,
    • indicate how each task was assessed,
    • include their printed name and correct certification number, and
    • sign according to the Acceptable Signatures Policy.
  • All documentation must be uploaded in the RBT tab of your BACB account. Multipage documents must be combined into a single file, as each section of the application only allows 1 attachment.
  • All documentation must be correct and complete (i.e., all necessary boxes are checked; all required dates, signatures, and pages are included).
  • The RBT Renewal Competency Assessment must be completed no more than 45 days before your RBT certification expiration date, and the assessor (and/or assistant assessor) must:
    • complete all applicable fields,
    • initial all applicable tasks,
    • indicate how each task was assessed,
    • include their printed name and correct certification number, and
    • sign according to the Acceptable Signatures Policy.
Note: If the documentation that shows you have met the education requirements is in a language other than English, it must be translated into English using an official translation service. Note: There are 2 versions of the competency assessment. Please refer to the label at the top of the document to ensure that you’re using the correct one. Initial Competency Assessments will not be accepted for a renewal application, as Renewal Competency Assessments require the completion of 5 tasks instead of 3.

Tip #5: Sit back and relax

When it comes to submitting an RBT Initial Certification Application or RBT Renewal Application, we understand how important it is for you to get an approval as soon as possible so that you can take the next steps in your RBT journey. By following this guidance and enlisting the help of your supervisor, you’ll feel confident that you can submit an approvable application in no time. And don’t forget—we’re rooting for you!

Thank you for taking the time to check out these pointers. For more RBT-related resources, visit our Registered Behavior Technician web page. For questions, please reach out via the Contact Us Form.

James E. Carr, PhD, BCBA-D, ICE-CCP

James E. Carr, PhD, BCBA-D, ICE-CCP

James E. Carr, PhD, BCBA-D, ICE-CCP is the Chief Executive Officer of the Behavior Analyst Certification Board. His professional interests include behavior analyst credentialing, practitioner training, behavioral assessment and treatment of developmental disabilities, and verbal behavior. Dr. Carr has published over 150 journal articles on these and other topics and his work has been cited over 8,000 times. Dr. Carr is a Fellow of the Association for Behavior Analysis International and has received awards from APBA, APA’s Division 25, and Autism Speaks.

He is the past editor-in-chief of The Analysis of Verbal Behavior and has served on the editorial boards of 11 behavior analysis journals, including 4 appointments as associate editor. Dr. Carr is the past president of the Colorado, Alabama, and Mid-American Associations for Behavior Analysis. He received his doctorate in 1996 from Florida State University under the mentorship of Dr. Jon Bailey and previously served on the behavior analysis faculties at University of Nevada-Reno (1996-1999), Western Michigan University (1999-2008), and Auburn University (2008-2011).

SungWoo Kahng, PhD, BCBA-D

SungWoo Kahng, PhD, BCBA-D

President | New Brunswick, NJ
(term ends August 2023)

SungWoo Kahng is an Associate Professor and Director of Academic Programs in Autism and ABA in the Department of Applied Psychology at Rutgers University. Prior to his current position, he was an Associate Professor at the University of Missouri (MU) where he was also the chair of the Department of Health Psychology, the Founding Director of the MU graduate programs in applied behavior analysis, and Director of the Applied Behavioral Intervention Service of the MU Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders.

Prior to moving to MU, he was a faculty member in the Department of Behavioral Psychology and a senior behavior analyst on the Neurobehavioral Unit at the Kennedy Krieger Institute, as well as an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Dr. Kahng graduated from Kalamazoo College with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and received his PhD in behavior analysis from the University of Florida. He was an Associate Editor for the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis where he also serves on the Board of Editors. Additionally, he is on the Board of Editors for Behavioral Intervention and has served as an ad hoc reviewer for numerous other journals.

A Board Certified Behavior Analyst, Dr. Kahng serves on the Scientific Council of the Organization for Autism Research. He is the recipient of the 2003 B.F. Skinner New Researcher Award given by Division 25 of the American Psychological Association. Dr. Kahng has co-authored over 70 peer-reviewed articles and chapters, and has focused his research and clinical work on assessing and treating behaviors exhibited by individuals with developmental disabilities. He is also interested in a broader research agenda, which includes topics related to obesity and aging. Finally, he has mentored numerous undergraduate, master’s level, and predoctoral students as well as post-doctoral fellows.

Molly Dubuque, MA, BCBA

Molly Dubuque, MA, BCBA

Vice President | Master’s BCBA Representative | Louisville, KY
(term ends August 2024)

Molly Dubuque, MA, BCBA, LBA (KY) earned her master’s degree in psychology (with an emphasis in behavior analysis) from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2008. She has over 20 years of experience working with children and adults with developmental disabilities in the United States and overseas.

Through her work in universities and clinical settings, Molly has supervised over 100 exam candidates who are now Board Certified Behavior Analysts. Molly is the Vice President of Clinical Standards and Outcomes at LittleStar ABA Therapy. In this role, she develops professional development sequences for staff and clinical processes for patients to ensure that both have a clear path for achieving their best outcome. Her professional interests include practitioner training, supervision, and the behavioral treatment of developmental disabilities. Molly has served as a board member for the Nevada and Kentucky Associations for Behavior Analysis.