Introduction to the Ethics Code for Behavior Analysts

Inside the BACB: Episode 15

Introduction to the Ethics Code for Behavior AnalystsIn this episode of Inside the BACB, join CEO Dr. Jim Carr and Director of Ethics Dr. Tyra Sellers as they discuss the Ethics Code for Behavior Analysts, an updated ethics Code for BCBAs and BCaBAs. Listen now to get the inside scoop on the revision process, important additions to the Code, and more.

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

Episode 15: Introduction to the Ethics Code for Behavior Analysts

In this episode of Inside the BACB, join CEO Dr. Jim Carr and Director of Ethics Dr. Tyra Sellers as they discuss the Ethics Code for Behavior Analysts, an updated ethics Code for BCBAs and BCaBAs. Listen now to get the inside scoop on the revision process, important additions to the Code, and more.

Resources:

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

Introducing the New Ethics Code for Behavior Analysts

The BACB is excited to introduce the new Ethics Code for Behavior Analysts (Code). This updated Code for BCBAs and BCaBAs will replace the Professional and Ethical Compliance Code for Behavior Analysts and will go into effect on January 1, 2022.

We encourage you to review the new Code and check out its accompanying Crosswalk resource, podcast episode, and newsletter!

Ethics Code for Behavior Analysts (2022)

This Code outlines future professional ethics requirements for BCaBA, BCBA, and BCBA-D applicants and certificants. Effective in 2022.

Crosswalk for Behavior Analyst Ethics Codes

This resource outlines the differences between the current Code and the Ethics Code for Behavior Analysts.

New Podcast: Introduction to the Ethics Code for Behavior Analysts

This episode of the Inside the BACB podcast contains discussions about the Code’s creation, layout, new requirements, and more

December 2020 Newsletter: Special Ethics Edition

This month’s newsletter introduces the new Code and breaks down the revision process, important changes, and more.

Please visit the Ethics web page for additional resources and information.

New Blog: Tips for New Certificants

This year, many individuals have met their eligibility requirements, passed their examination, and earned their BACB certification. As a resource for these new certificants, the BACB has released the Tips for New Certificants blog. Read on to learn about the importance of updating your BACB account, establishing a maintenance plan, and more.

For more tips for certificants, please visit our BACB Blog web page.

Tips for New Certificants

Tips for New Certificants

First things first—congratulations! You met your eligibility requirements, passed your examination, and earned your certification. You just successfully finished what some believe to be the hardest part of becoming an RBT, BCaBA, or BCBA.

But now you’re facing a whole new set of challenges, including maintaining your certification and assuming your new role. To help you start off on the right foot, here are a few tips for your first weeks as a certificant.

Tip #1: Review the contact information in your BACB account

When you earn your certification, it’s important to review your BACB account and update any outdated or incorrect information. Although the BACB strongly encourages applicants to review and update their contact information as changes occur, this tip is especially important once you pass your examination and earn your certification.

But why is this review so crucial?

For one, within 4–6 weeks of passing your BCBA or BCaBA examination, your official certificate will arrive at the mailing address listed in your BACB account—however outdated that address may be. So, to prevent a mailing mishap, be sure to update your home address. Also take care to review your name, phone number, and email address, as outdated or incorrect information in any of these fields may create a problem down the line.

Tip #2: Get familiar with the Certificant Registry

The Certificant Registry is a database that includes vital information about all BACB certificants, including their location; certification number, status, and activation/recertification date; disciplinary actions or sanctions, if any; and availability for supervision services. It’s a valuable resource for employers, service recipients, applicants, and certificants alike, so we recommend getting to know it a little bit better.

As a new certificant, you will not appear in the database immediately. Like your certificant number, which may take up to 24 hours to appear in your BACB account, your name may take up to 48 hours to appear in the Certificant Registry. At that point, your certification information will become public.

Once your information is public, potential employers and supervisors can use the Certificant Registry to verify your certification. You can also use the registry to find and contact supervisors in your area if or when necessary. But be careful—as stated earlier, if your address is not updated in your BACB account, the registry may not reflect your current location.

We encourage you to give the Certificant Registry a try—maybe even search your own name to see how you will appear to others!

Tip #3: Update your resume and curriculum vitae

This tip is as short and sweet as they come, but it’s important nonetheless: Don’t forget to list your new certification on your resume and/or curriculum vitae! Once you enter the working world, you’ll want to ensure that your new title—and all of the hard work that went into getting it—is reflected on paper for potential employers to see.

Tip #4: Research your state’s licensure requirements

If you are a BACB certificant who intends to practice in the United States, you must adhere to your state’s licensure requirements before practicing or billing. This tip may be the most crucial in this list, as ABA practitioners who practice without licensure in regulated states may face serious consequences, such as disciplinary actions against their certification or even incarceration.

Follow these steps to learn more:

  1. Visit our U.S. Licensure of Behavior Analysts web page.
  2. If your state is regulated, click on your state in the table to navigate to its regulatory board website.
  3. There, you can find detailed information about your state’s licensure requirements and applications, if necessary.

Tip #5: Establish a maintenance plan

“There’s no such thing as too early!” – Bird that got the worm

It never hurts to be prepared, which is why it’s a great idea to begin establishing a plan to meet the maintenance requirements for your certification as soon as possible. As an RBT, BCaBA, or BCBA, you must meet specific requirements and complete certain tasks before you are able to recertify. It’s helpful to keep those to-dos in mind and plan ahead to avoid a last-minute panic or, at worst, an expired certification.

To create a maintenance plan, find out the length of your recertification cycle, the continuing education (CE) requirements that you must meet, if any, and the tasks that you must complete within the 45-day period before your recertification date. Then, do your research! Visit the Continuing Education tab in your BACB account to find a summary of the continuing education units needed for your current certification cycle or review the RBT Renewal Competency Assessment Packet—maybe even mark your target milestones on a calendar or planning app.

To get started, check out the following table to see a basic overview of the current BACB maintenance requirements for each certification.

Overview of Maintenance Requirements
Certification Recertification Date CE Requirements Ongoing Requirements 45 Days Before Recertification Date
RBT 1 year from original certification date Not applicable
  • Abide by the RBT Ethics Code and self-reporting requirements
  • Meet the ongoing supervision requirements
  • Complete a renewal competency assessment with a qualified assessor
  • Renew certification
BCaBA 2 years from original certification date
  • Complete 20 CEUs (4 in Ethics, 3 in Supervision if applicable)
  • Enter CEUs in your BACB account
  • Abide by BACB ethics and self-reporting requirements
  • Meet the ongoing supervision requirements
Recertify
BCBA/BCBA-D 2 years from original certification date
  • Complete 32 CEUs (4 in Ethics, 3 in Supervision if applicable)
  • Enter CEUs in your BACB account
Abide by BACB ethics and self-reporting requirements Recertify

For more detailed, in-depth information about current BACB maintenance requirements, please visit the RBT, BCaBA, or BCBA Handbook.

Tip #6: Check out the Resources tab in your BACB account

As a new BCBA or BCaBA, you have access to multiple behavior-analytic scholarly journals and databases. These journals and databases may be helpful resources for you as you integrate current research into your behavior-analytic practice activities—and the best part is that through your BACB account, they’re free!

We encourage you to take some time to explore the Resources tab, as spending time in behavior-analytic literature is one of the best ways to stay in the know about advancements in the field. In fact, in a profession that is rapidly advancing, your education will continue long after you pass your examination.

. . .

These six tips are not the end-all, be-all of your first weeks as a BACB certificant. No matter how thoroughly you plan and prepare, you will surely run into hiccups and roadblocks at one point or another. That’s simply the nature of doing something new. Even so, we hope that these tips help you more confidently assume your new role.

Thank you for your hard work and dedication to applied behavior analysis. We are so happy to have you as a certificant. Best of luck!

Response to Implementation Considerations of BCBA and BCaBA 2022 Requirements

A number of new BCBA and BCaBA eligibility requirements will go into effect in 2022. We recently received several requests to delay the implementation of these requirements from individuals who were planning to apply prior to 2022 under the existing requirements, but whose progress has been slowed by the COVID-19 pandemic. We feel for the students and trainees in this situation. Because the BACB is not permitted to accept two different sets of certification standards during the same time period, the BACB Board of Directors considered the possibility of a delayed implementation of the 2022 requirements.

Given how the 2022 BCBA and BCaBA eligibility requirements (i.e., degree, coursework, fieldwork) were developed and how our certification programs are accredited, it is not possible to delay only one requirement (e.g., fieldwork). Thus, the Board considered the feasibility and various impacts of delaying all of the 2022 requirements. Among their considerations were:

  • possible negative impacts on individuals planning to apply in 2022 under the new requirements (e.g., new fieldwork requirements are not backward compatible with existing requirements, individuals with academic degrees that do not currently qualify but will in 2022)
  • possible negative impacts on university training programs that have already been training under the 2022 requirements
  • possible negative impacts on the profession (e.g., delayed implementation of more rigorous requirements)
  • potential confusion for students, trainees, supervisors, and faculty who have been preparing for the 2022 requirements since their announcements 3+ years ago
  • the availability of our existing compassionate appeal process for special circumstances

Ultimately, the Board decided to proceed with the originally planned 2022 implementation of the new BCBA and BCaBA eligibility requirements.

Guidance. We offer the following guidance for BCBA and BCaBA trainees who are unsure whether they will be able to apply prior to 2022. First, we encourage a careful self-audit of all requirements that have been completed and those that will likely be completed in time to submit a complete application by December 31, 2021. Faculty and supervisors should be able to assist with this process. This audit should include a determination of whether existing COVID-19 temporary allowances are relevant. Students and trainees who are still uncertain about when they will apply should review our BCBA and BCaBA transition resource documents. In general, if students and trainees are unsure whether they will be able to apply before 2022, we recommend meeting both the current and 2022 requirements to be safe. Finally, if a student or trainee has taken all of these steps and is not able to meet the 2022 requirements as a direct result of the pandemic, they should review our compassionate appeal process (located within the Administrative Appeal Request Form). This process was specifically designed to provide flexibility to individuals who can demonstrate that extenuating circumstances prevented them from meeting BACB certification requirements. Keep in mind, however, that submitting a compassionate appeal will not guarantee an extension and that the outcome will be based on a full analysis of how the pandemic has impacted the training timeline.

2022 Requirements Transition Resource Documents

The BACB's eligibility requirements for BCBAs and BCaBAs will change on January 1, 2022, but these changes may affect applicants now if they plan to apply in 2022 or later. For guidance during this transition, please refer to our Requirements Transition Resource documents, which outline specific changes in eligibility requirements and provide instructions for applicants at all stages of preparation. You can find them on the BCBA and BCaBA pages under the Documents sections.

The Role of the BACB

In our latest blog, we’re answering common questions about the role of the BACB, such as: How do we set standards and why? How do we fit into the profession of behavior analysis? Learn about the differences between the BACB and membership associations, why we're here to regulate the profession of behavior analysis, and much more.

For more interesting information about the BACB, please visit our BACB Blog web page.

The BACB: What It Is, What It Does, and Why

The BACB: What It Is, What It Does, and Why

It doesn't matter if you have been a BACB certificant for many years, are newly certified, or are just starting to explore becoming a practitioner in behavior analysis—it is likely that you have a number of questions about the landscape of the applied behavior analysis (ABA) profession. There are many reasons for this, but chief among them is that ABA is a relatively new profession, with professional credentialing only existing for a few decades. This is where the importance of understanding the role of the BACB in the profession comes in.

The BACB was established in 1998 to meet the credentialing needs of ABA practitioners, governments, and consumers of ABA services. In the BACB's early years, its certification programs grew consistently but slowly. In its first 13 years, the BACB certified 10,000 individuals. In the last seven years, this number has grown to more than 100,000 certificants! In addition, since 2009, 31 states have passed laws to license behavior analysts. These developments mean that professional certification and the credentialing of ABA practitioners are relatively recent events, about which many people have questions. These include: What is the BACB's role? What is credentialing and why is it important? Why can't the BACB speak for behavior analysis? Why are there so many acronyms!?

While we can't address every question, we hope to answer a few.

What Is The BACB?

The Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) is:

  • A nonprofit organization — The BACB was founded in Florida as a nonprofit corporation in 1998 and has 501(c)(3) tax–exempt status from the IRS. Both of these legal and regulatory frameworks place important limits on BACB activity.
  • A credentialing organization — The primary function of the BACB is to operate certification programs, similar to a regulatory entity. In this role, the BACB provides practice requirements, an ethics code, and a disciplinary system designed to protect consumers, among other certification–program activities. In this capacity, ABA practitioners must interact with the BACB regularly to maintain their certification.

What Is Credentialing and Why Is It Important?

As mentioned earlier, the BACB's certification programs exist as a regulatory–like mechanism to protect consumers of behavior–analytic services. To protect consumers, the BACB establishes entry–level eligibility standards for education and training AND provides a mechanism to discipline behavior analysis practitioners who violate their ethics code.

Professional Credentialing

Credentialing is vital to behavior analysis because of the particularly vulnerable populations that a majority of behavior–analytic practitioners serve. Without credentialing, how would we know who is qualified to enter the profession and who isn't?
Two of the many differences between private certification and government–issued licensure are highlighted in the boxes below because these are the two primary ways behavior analysts are credentialed to practice.

Private Certification (BACB)

  • Voluntary
  • Disciplinary enforcement is limited to those who are certified by the BACB and the consequences are limited to revocation of certification.

Licensure (31 states)

  • Mandatory
  • Disciplinary enforcement may be enacted upon anyone practicing, with or without a license, and consequences include substantial fines and possible incarceration.

 

In ABA, practitioners who obtain certification by the BACB have a great deal of mobility because their certification will meet licensure requirements in almost any state with licensure for the practice of behavior analysis. For more information about US state licensure, please refer to the BACB's US Regulation of Behavior Analysts or visit APBA's Licensure and Other Regulation of ABA Practitioners web page.

NCCA Accreditation and Consumer Protection

All three of the BACB's current certification programs are accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). The BACB must adhere to NCCA–established processes, similar to the way BACB certificants and applicants must meet BACB requirements.

Using the NCCA processes, the BACB convenes groups of subject matter experts (SMEs) to evaluate and potentially revise requirements for each BACB credential. SME recommendations are then voted on by the BACB Board of Directors before they are adopted. Through this process, the requirements change as needed to ensure greater consumer protection through standards that accurately reflect the ever–evolving practice of behavior analysis. As usual, everything comes back to consumer protection.

For anyone interested in a little more reading about the processes that are used by the BACB to develop standards and examinations, they are outlined in a number of our publications and can be found on our Resources webpage. In addition, you can give us feedback if you have suggestions for future SMEs to consider as they revise requirements in the future.

What Is the BACB's Role in The ABA Profession?

The major professional organizations in ABA have very specific missions and roles and substantial limitations on their activities from various sources. These limitations include state laws where the organization was founded as a nonprofit, IRS rules, and for the BACB, our NCCA accreditation requirements. Let's start with the role of the BACB.

To recap, as we mentioned earlier, the BACB's job is to credential practitioners of behavior analysis and to coordinate with regulatory authorities. Although we are sometimes called upon to engage in advocacy and political and social commentary, our involvement in these activities is necessarily restricted by some of the entities mentioned earlier. In our regulatory–like role, the BACB is prohibited from engaging in political activity and has very strict limitations on its acceptable activities. That said, a number of the questions we receive indicate that some think of the BACB as a professional membership association, with flexibility about our public behavior. This is just not true. Although we sometimes wish we could engage in a broader array of advocacy activities, we have a very limited role in ABA—again, due to restrictions imposed upon us by certain legal statutes and IRS rules. It's useful to think about the BACB as similar to a licensure board, since we serve a similar and often interrelated regulatory function. It is notable to mention here that other professions may have certification boards that look like the BACB in function but are regulated differently under law and IRS rules, which allows them greater flexibility than the BACB. We know that this makes understanding our limitations pretty tricky!

A professional membership association is charged with representing the interests of its members and speaking on behalf of a profession. The BACB doesn't have members; we have certificants. Fortunately, ABA has a number of state, provincial, and national professional associations to serve the membership role.

Two major professional membership associations in behavior analysis are the Association of Professional Behavior Analysts (APBA) and the Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI). These organizations were established to provide different services than a certification board and are permitted much more flexibility in their permissible activities, including making public statements and taking a stand on social issues. We strongly encourage our certificants to become members in their state and national professional associations if they have not already. In fact, at the very beginning of a certificant's professional experience, we send a welcome letter encouraging them to join and become involved in their relevant professional associations. The professional membership associations are permitted to engage in a wide range of important activities. They are truly the voice of behavior analysis and have the primary obligation to represent our profession.

Because the BACB cannot speak on behalf of the profession of behavior analysis, we hope all certificants and practitioners join their state and national professional membership associations. Together, membership associations, the BACB, and, most importantly, behavior analysis practitioners and stakeholders can work to improve the discipline of behavior analysis.
If you're interested in hearing more about this topic, check out Episode 11 of the BACB's podcast, Inside the BACB.

BACB Suspends Fees for Voluntary Inactive Status Applications (This update has expired.)

July 6, 2020 Update: As of July 1, 2020, the unique Voluntary Inactive Status (VIS) applications, which were introduced for the temporary fee waiver related to COVID-19, were removed from use. Further, the standard VIS applications, with related fees, were reinstated.


March 31, 2020 (Modified July 6, 2020)

To help provide some financial relief for our certificants during this unprecedented time, the BACB had previously waived all fees for those applying for voluntary inactive status through June 30, 2020. Certificants wanting to make use of that temporary allowance needed to submit a unique version of the Voluntary Inactive Status (VIS) Application — previously available from this post — that pertained to their certification level.

Please note: Each BACB certification has different requirements for requesting voluntary inactive status. Please make sure you meet the relevant requirements for your certification level.