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®).

Applicant

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.

Reporting Alleged Ethics Violations Based on Publicly Available Documentation

Reporting Alleged Ethics Violations Based on Publicly Available Documentation

By the BACB

This video explores the Publicly Documented Alleged Violation reporting option. Please watch to learn about reporting requirements and considerations, the submission process, and more. Visit our Reporting Alleged Violations Based on Publicly Available Documentation web page for additional information.

You can find all of the BACB’s videos on our YouTube channel.

BACB Board of Directors Appointments

We are pleased to announce that the Board of Directors appointed Sadie Anderson as the next RBT Representative and Chrissy McNair as the next Consumer Representative on the Board of Directors. In August, they will begin their first three-year terms. The Board also appointed Molly Dubuque to serve a second term on the Board. We offer our congratulations to the appointed directors and our gratitude to all of the candidates who agreed to be considered for these positions.

COVID-19 Vaccine Considerations for BACB Certificants

March 21, 2022, Update: The following information was based on sections 1.01, 2.02, and 2.05 of the Professional and Ethical Compliance Code for Behavior Analysts and has since been updated to reflect the Ethics Code for Behavior Analysts.


The BACB commends all of its certificants who have endeavored to place the safety and needs of clients and staff at the forefront of their action plans to address the COVID-19 pandemic. The following information is being provided to our certificants as they make critical decisions about accessing COVID-19 vaccines.

The BACB offers the following considerations as certificants begin to move forward in the wake of newly available vaccines for COVID-19. This information does not constitute legal or medical advice, but it is consistent with the following standard from the Ethics Code for Behavior Analysts:

  • 3.01 Responsibility to Clients: “Behavior analysts act in the best interest of clients, taking appropriate steps to support clients’ rights, maximize benefits, and do no harm. They are also knowledgeable about and comply with applicable laws and regulations related to mandated reporting requirements.”

Certificants should also consider the recent guidance provided by the American Medical Association (AMA) Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs for physicians from the November 2020 AMA Special Meeting. Specifically, the AMA (n.d.) states that:

  • “When … there is an available, safe, and effective vaccine, physicians have a responsibility to accept immunization absent a recognized medical contraindication or when a specific vaccine would pose a significant risk to the physician’s patients.”
  • “Physicians who are not or cannot be immunized have a responsibility to voluntarily take appropriate action to protect patients, fellow health care workers and others … including refraining from direct patient contact when appropriate.”
  • “Physician practices and health care institutions have a further responsibility to limit patient and staff exposure to individuals who are not immunized, which may include requiring unimmunized individuals to refrain from direct patient contact.”

The BACB urges certificants to consider the AMA’s guidance when making personal decisions and creating organization-level policies about accessing COVID-19 vaccines. Should the BACB receive a Notice of Alleged Violation related to this topic, the review committee would likely consider the following questions in determining whether a violation occurred:

  • Was there a vaccine available to reduce the negative impacts of the pandemic?
  • If the certificant could not be safely immunized or refused the vaccine for personal reasons, did they take and follow appropriate actions to protect clients, stakeholders, co-workers, supervisees, trainees, and others from potential exposure?
  • If the certificant was responsible for organization-level practices, did they take appropriate measures to protect clients, stakeholders, co-workers, supervisees, trainees, and others from exposure to nonimmunized individuals?

Reference

COVID-19 Vaccine Considerations for BACB Certificants

In the wake of newly available COVID-19 vaccines, certificants are faced with critical decisions that concern the safety and health of their clients, coworkers, and staff members, among others. To offer guidance on accessing COVID-19 vaccines as a behavior analyst, the BACB has compiled considerations from the American Medical Association and the Professional and Ethical Compliance Code for Behavior Analysts.

To learn more about these considerations, please visit our BACB COVID-19 Updates web page.

BACB Board of Directors Election Results

We are pleased to announce the results of our recent Board of Directors election: Eric Vici, BCaBA, and Julie Koudys, BCBA-D, were each elected to serve a three-year term on the board. We offer our congratulations to the elected directors and our gratitude to all of the candidates for running. We also extend our thanks to the certificants who participated in this important election.

RBT Remote Testing Restrictions Beginning March 1, 2021

When in-person testing was restricted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the BACB sought approval from its accrediting body to participate in an exception program that offered flexibility for RBT candidates by permitting remote testing, with the understanding that additional data collection and security measures would be required. Remote testing became available for the RBT certification program on April 15, 2020.

On March 1, 2021, in response to typical examination-security concerns associated with remote testing, the BACB will begin restricting remote testing in select geographic regions as needed. If remote testing does not appear as an option at the time of examination-appointment scheduling, it is due to these restrictions, and in-person testing will still be available.

To learn more about the RBT remote testing restrictions, please visit our BACB COVID-19 Updates web page.