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.

FAQs About the 2023 International Changes

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On January 1, 2023, a number of changes to our international focus that we first announced in December of 2019 went into effect (see Recent Changes to the BACB’s International Focus). To help you navigate these changes, we’ve answered several of your key questions. Let’s address the most important one before we get started:

Who might be affected by these changes to the BACB’s international focus?

These changes primarily impact new BACB applicants and current BACB certificants, supervisors, trainers, and faculty members who work and/or reside outside of the following authorized countries: the United States (US), Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom (UK).* If this describes you, read on to find out how you might be affected.

Applying for BACB Certification

 

Q: I understand that as of January 1, 2023, new BACB certifications are only available to residents of authorized countries. Who’s considered a resident?

A: To be considered a resident of an authorized country, you must physically reside in the US, Canada, Australia, or the UK. The BACB will confirm that you’ve met this requirement by checking the address listed in your BACB account. The BACB may also verify your residency by requesting additional documentation, such as your government-issued identification, work records, driver’s license, or utility bills from the time of application. Please note that using a false or temporary address to wrongfully meet this requirement may lead to the invalidation of your eligibility or certification.


Q: I earned my degree outside of an authorized country and then moved to an authorized country. Will I meet the degree requirements when I apply for certification?

A: It depends. The fact that you earned a degree outside of an authorized country doesn’t necessarily disqualify you from becoming certified if you now reside in an authorized country. If your degree meets the degree requirements in effect at the time of application, it likely qualifies. Visit the BCBA or BCaBA Handbook to explore our current degree requirements.


Q: I completed my coursework and/or fieldwork outside of an authorized country and then moved to an authorized country. Will I meet the coursework and/or fieldwork requirements when I apply for certification?

A: It depends. So long as your coursework and/or fieldwork meets all of the requirements in effect at the time of application (regardless of where it was completed), it should qualify. Please review the BCBA or BCaBA Handbook for a full breakdown of current coursework and fieldwork requirements.

Note for those completing VCS coursework outside of an accredited educational institution: Coursework from a Verified Course Sequence approved under an Alternative Pathway in which courses are taught outside of an accredited educational institution must have been completed before January 1, 2023.*** As of July 1, 2023, the BACB will no longer accept non-university coursework. Any individual who wishes to pursue BCBA or BCaBA certification with coursework from such a VCS must submit a fully approvable application** by June 30, 2023.


Residing or Practicing Outside of Authorized Countries

 

Q: I’m already certified, but I don’t reside in an authorized country. Is my certification still valid?

A: Currently, yes. However, please keep in mind that as countries develop their own professional programs and/or as laws change, certificants in authorized and unauthorized countries may be impacted.


Q: I’m already certified, but I don’t reside in an authorized country. How should I refer to my certification after this date?

A: Since you are already certified, you may continue using and referring to your certification as you have previously.


Q: My certification has lapsed, and I don’t reside in an authorized country. Can I still qualify for certification via the past certification option?

A: No. If your certification has lapsed, you must be a resident of an authorized country to apply for a new BACB certification.


Q: I don’t reside in an authorized country. Can I apply for the doctoral designation?

A: Currently, you may apply for the doctoral designation if you hold an active BCBA certification. Subject to local laws and regulations and where feasible, the BACB will continue to accept doctoral designation applications from any active BCBA regardless of whether they are in an authorized country. Should laws or feasibility change, affecting our ability to offer the doctoral designation to unauthorized countries, the BACB will give the profession a year’s advance notice. Shorter notice may be necessary in regions subject to US business/trade sanctions.


Q: I’m an active BCBA or BCaBA consulting in another country. Can I continue consulting?

A: Yes, you may continue consulting.

Serving as a Supervisor or ACE Provider

 

Q: I’m an RBT or BCaBA and a resident of a country in which new BACB certifications are no longer available. Can I receive supervision remotely from a certificant in another country, regardless of whether that country is authorized?

A: Yes, as long as the supervision meets all of the applicable supervision requirements in effect at that time.


Q: I’m a certificant and a resident of a country in which new BACB certifications are no longer available. Can I provide RBT or BCaBA supervision remotely to someone in another country, regardless of whether that country is authorized?

A: Yes. However, you must adhere to the Ethics Code for Behavior Analysts to ensure that your supervision is effective. You must also make sure that you and your supervisees comply with all BACB supervision requirements and any other relevant laws and regulations where supervision occurs (e.g., where the supervisor, supervisee, and client are located).


Q: I’m one of the only BCBAs in the country in which I reside. Is there a limit to how many RBT or BCaBA certificants I can supervise?

A: While there is no definitive answer to this question, we encourage you to consider Section 4.03 of the Ethics Code for Behavior Analysts, which requires behavior analysts to only take on a number of supervisees and trainees that allows them to provide effective supervision and training. This means that your supervisory volume must not impact your effectiveness or your ability to meet the RBT or BCaBA ongoing supervision requirements detailed in the Ongoing Supervision sections of the RBT and BCaBA Handbooks. For example, you need enough client knowledge to inform the RBT or BCaBA’s work, provide direction, and contract with any client to whom the RBT is providing services.


Q: I do not reside in an authorized country. Can I apply for or maintain ACE Provider status?

A: Yes, so long as you meet and comply with all of the requirements detailed in the ACE Provider Handbook.


Thank you for taking the time to learn more about these recent and upcoming international changes. We hope that you find this information helpful. For further guidance, visit our International Development & Support web page. If you have any questions, please reach out through the Contact Us Form.


*Individuals who reside in the UK may continue to apply for BACB certification through 2025. This date may be moved earlier if the UK Society for Behaviour Analysis achieves national recognition for UK behavior analysts, develops its own credentialing system, and transitions current BACB certificants into the new UK system.
**An approvable application is one that contains all of the necessary elements for approval. For example, an approvable BCBA or BCaBA application would include the following:

  • payment in full
  • complete and accurate documentation showing that all fieldwork and coursework requirements have been met
  • proof of an acceptable degree that meets all applicable requirements, including official transcript(s) with conferral dates
  • a degree equivalency evaluation if applicable

***When coursework is no longer acceptable, it may not be used to mark the onset of fieldwork.

Commonly Asked Questions About BACB Supervised Fieldwork Requirements

When our subject matter experts designed the BCBA and BCaBA supervised fieldwork requirements, they had one person in mind:

You.

The requirements had to accommodate the countless circumstances in which you deliver—or help deliver—behavior-analytic services. They also needed to set minimum expectations that could help guide you and your supervisor as you create the most valuable practical experience for you, your professional path, and the clients you serve. When trying to check all of these boxes, the subject matter experts realized that flexibility is key.

However, we understand that with flexibility comes uncertainty. It can be frustrating when you ask us whether something counts toward a requirement, and we respond with, “It depends.” That’s why we rely on supervisors to understand our requirements and make judgment calls based on the context of your unique situation. By working closely with your supervisor, you can develop fieldwork that meets our requirements and your career goals so that you can become a well-rounded, certified behavior analyst who serves clients to the best of their ability.

To help ensure that you’re headed in the right direction, we answered some of your most frequently asked questions about fieldwork. Please review these Q&As, the Considerations When Identifying Practical Fieldwork Opportunities section of the BCBA or BCaBA Handbook, and our Documenting Fieldwork blog and video for details.


Q: How do I know whether an activity counts toward my fieldwork hours?

A: First, review the list of Acceptable Activities in the Supervised Fieldwork Requirements section of the BCBA or BCaBA Handbook. Then, ask your supervisor. They are ultimately responsible for determining whether an activity meets our fieldwork requirements, lines up with your professional goals, and helps you develop the skills you need to demonstrate competence in behavior analysis.


Q: What’s the difference between restricted and unrestricted activities?

A: Let’s break it down:

Type of Activity Definition Details
Restricted An activity that involves the delivery of therapeutic and instructional procedures directly to clients. These activities are optional and must not make up more than a certain percentage of your fieldwork hours. See the BCBA or BCaBA Handbook for details.
Unrestricted An activity that best exemplifies the work of a behavior analyst who oversees and develops programs and systems for others to implement. These activities are required and must make up a certain percentage (or more) of your fieldwork hours. See the BCBA or BCaBA Handbook for details.

Whether an activity is restricted or unrestricted depends on context. For example, data collection could be a restricted activity if you’re solely collecting as part of a client’s treatment program. It could also be an unrestricted activity if you’re collecting as part of a functional assessment to identify a client’s future programming needs. Per usual, your supervisor can help you determine which category your activity falls into.


Q: How should I structure my restricted and unrestricted activities?

A: It’s up to you and your supervisor. Trainees are not required to accrue restricted hours, but they are required to accrue unrestricted hours so that they’re fully prepared to do everything a certified behavior analyst does. This leaves room for many different approaches. Some trainees begin their fieldwork with primarily restricted activities, and others jump right into both, especially if both types are relevant to a client’s programming.


Q: Do I have to see people in a clinical setting for them to be considered clients?

A: A client is anyone (i.e., a person or a group of people) who receives behavior-analytic services in any setting. For example, a client might be an older adult in an assisted living facility or a group of employees in a corporate office. If you’re ever unsure, ask your supervisor. They can determine who is considered a client and who isn’t.


Q: Can the observation with a client and supervisor-trainee contact requirements be met at the same time?

A: It’s up to you and your supervisor. (Do we sound like a broken record yet?) But there’s a catch. For the benefit of you and your clients, supervisor-trainee contacts must happen in real time. For example, if your supervisor watches an hour-long video of you delivering services but does not provide immediate, real-time feedback, that hour could count toward the observation with a client requirement but not the supervisor-trainee contact or total supervised hours requirement. If you and your supervisor watch the video together, pausing to discuss feedback and behavior-analytic principles, the hour could count toward all requirements at once.


Q: Can I count an observation from a BCBA who isn’t in my supervision contract?

A: No. For your hours to count toward the observation with a client requirement, you and your supervisor must have a supervision contract in place. You may be in contact with other BCBAs not listed in your supervision contract, but those interactions will not count toward your fieldwork hours. That being said, those interactions are not for naught! They might count toward your independent hours.

Note: If you’re accruing fieldwork at an organization with multiple supervisors, please make sure that all of your supervisors are included in your supervision contract and that you’re using the correct Monthly and Final Fieldwork Verification Forms. See our Documenting Fieldwork: Helpful Answers to Your FAQs blog for more information about your documentation system.


Q: I’m working as an RBT or BCaBA as I accrue my fieldwork hours. Can I count the hours I’m working under supervision as supervised fieldwork hours, or is that double dipping?

A: If the hours you work meet all of the fieldwork and RBT or BCaBA supervision requirements, you may double dip. For example, if you have an hour-long meeting with your RBT Supervisor, you may count it toward your supervised fieldwork hours (only if you have an applicable supervision contract in place, your supervisor meets all necessary qualifications, and the meeting’s activities are appropriate for and meet both sets of requirements).

Before you consider double dipping, please keep in mind that there are a number of important differences between BACB requirements. For one, someone who is qualified to be an RBT Supervisor may not be qualified to be a fieldwork supervisor. In addition, there’s a limit on the number of restricted hours that may be counted toward fieldwork hours, and unrestricted activities are likely outside of the scope of an RBT’s responsibilities.


Q: Can I take breaks while accruing my supervised fieldwork hours?

A: Absolutely. Your fieldwork must be accrued within 5 consecutive years, but in that time period, you are more than welcome to take breaks and even change settings and/or supervisors.


Q: I’m going to take a semester off. Can I accrue supervised fieldwork hours during that time?

A: Yes, under one condition: You must have been enrolled in a qualifying behavior-analytic course (that you completed or will complete with a passing grade) before you began accruing fieldwork hours. If this is true, you can accrue hours during a break from school or even after you’ve completed your program and are no longer enrolled.


Q: Can I have one supervisor who provides all of my group supervision and another who provides all of my individual supervision?

A: It depends! (Now we’ve really come full circle.)

If you’re receiving supervision at an organization with multiple supervisors, yes. It’s possible in this situation because one supervisor coordinates all activities, ensuring that the topics and clients covered in individual and group supervision meetings correlate.

If you’re receiving supervision from one supervisor or a few independent supervisors, no. In this case, the same supervisor must provide your group and individual supervision and meet all of the fieldwork requirements independently.


That’s a wrap! (It seems like we’ve finally fixed that pesky broken record.) Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to get familiar with our supervised fieldwork requirements. Before you go, we’d like to share a few important resources to help you get the most out of this blog.

Because BACB requirements are flexible and occasionally change, please visit the BACB website, the Recent and Upcoming Changes to BACB Requirements web page, and the BACB Newsletter frequently. For more information and helpful fieldwork resources, including a full glossary of terms and a fieldwork tip sheet, check out the Supervised Fieldwork section of the BCBA or BCaBA Handbook.

Introducing the BCBA and BCaBA Handbooks

Inside the BACB: Episode 14

Introducing the BCBA and BCaBA HandbooksIn this episode of Inside the BACB, join Dr. Melissa Nosik and Director of Certificant Services Dr. Molli Luke as they introduce the new BCBA and BCaBA Handbooks and 2022 Eligibility Requirements. Listen now to learn about the makeup of these resources, the 2022 requirements changes, and more.

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

New BCBA and BCaBA Handbooks

The BACB is thrilled to announce the release of 4 new resources for BCBA/BCBA-D and BCaBA applicants and certificants.

NEW RESOURCES
BCBA Handbook These handbooks outline the current eligibility and maintenance requirements for BCBA/BCBA-D and BCaBA certification.
BCaBA Handbook
BCBA 2022 Eligibility Requirements These handbooks outline the new eligibility requirements that will be implemented in 2022 for BCBA/BCBA-D and BCaBA certification.
BCaBA 2022 Eligibility Requirements

The release of these handbooks has prompted certain changes to the
BACB’s website, including web-page integrations and updates. Now, all of the most important BCBA and BCaBA information, including resource documents previously located on our website (e.g., Experience Standards), can be found in the handbooks in an organized, easy-to-navigate format.

To learn more about these new resources, please check out the most recent episode of the Inside the BACB podcast, Introducing the BCBA and BCaBA Handbooks.

Episode 14: Introducing the BCBA and BCaBA Handbooks

Please note that the information in this podcast may be outdated.

In this episode of Inside the BACB, join Dr. Melissa Nosik and Director of Certificant Services Dr. Molli Luke as they introduce the new BCBA and BCaBA Handbooks and 2022 Eligibility Requirements. Listen now to learn about the makeup of these resources, the 2022 requirements changes, and more.

Resources:

For a transcribed version of this episode, please watch the episode on our YouTube channel with closed captions.