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.

COVID-19 Waivers Retired

In April of 2020, we released two temporary waivers in response to the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • Compassionate Exception Attestation for Experience/Fieldwork: We temporarily waived the observation-with-a-client requirement for trainees accruing experience or supervised fieldwork hours without access to clients.
  • Compassionate Exception Attestation for RBT Initial and Renewal Competency Assessments: We temporarily allowed with-a-client tasks to be assessed in role-play situations with client surrogates.

Now, with the advent of widely available COVID-19 vaccines and evidence that organizations have adapted their policies, these waivers are no longer in effect. Here is what this might mean for you:

  • For those who used the experience/fieldwork waiver, any experience or supervised fieldwork hours accrued on or after January 1, 2022, must meet the observation-with-a-client requirement. Be sure to retain the completed and signed attestation and, if audited, submit the attestation to the BACB.
  • For those who used the RBT Initial and Renewal Competency Assessments waiver, all with-a-client tasks documented on materials submitted on or after January 1, 2022, must be performed as stated in the Competency Assessment instructions.

Thank you for your understanding. If you have any questions or concerns, please visit the Contact Us web page.

Documenting Fieldwork: Helpful Answers to Your FAQs

Documenting Fieldwork FAQs

Keeping up with documentation can be hard—but it doesn’t have to be! With a solid plan in place to track your fieldwork, you can rest assured knowing that your fieldwork hours are being accurately documented.

Check out these answers to your frequently asked questions about the fieldwork documentation system, Monthly and Final Fieldwork Verification Forms, and the former Fieldwork Tracker to ensure that you’re set up for success. For more helpful tips, be sure to review the Documenting Fieldwork Hours video.


Fieldwork Documentation System

Q: Who should develop and maintain my documentation system?

A: You and your supervisor can collaborate to develop a documentation system, or you can develop it on your own. However, please keep in mind that regardless of who develops and maintains the documentation system, both you and your supervisor are required to keep copies of all relevant documentation.


Q: Who is responsible for tracking my hours to make sure they meet the requirements?

A: Both you and your supervisor should be tracking your fieldwork hours. At a minimum, your supervisor should review all of your hours for each supervisory period before they sign the Monthly Fieldwork Verification Form. Don’t wait until the Final Fieldwork Verification Form must be signed for your supervisor to review all of your hours!


Q: What might it look like to document my fieldwork?

A: This is a great question—and there’s a lot to consider. Here are a few pointers to get you started, but be sure to check out the Documenting Fieldwork Hours video for an in-depth look at how to best document your fieldwork:

  1. First, we recommend that you complete the Fieldwork Checklist and Tip Sheet, as it includes helpful guidance on getting started.
  2. Once you’ve found a qualified supervisor, signed your supervision contract, and established your documentation system, you’ll likely begin accruing hours by performing both restricted and unrestricted activities. You should meet with your supervisor throughout the month to help ensure that you’re gaining the skills necessary to demonstrate competence in applied behavior analysis. You can find a more comprehensive description of acceptable activities in the relevant BCBA or BCaBA Handbook .
  3. By the end of the month, you’ll want to double check that you’ve documented the total number of individual and group supervision hours you accrued, the total number of supervision contacts that occurred, and the total number of observations-with-clients that took place that month. Don’t forget to document all other relevant information along the way (see the BCBA or BCaBA Handbook for additional information).
  4. At this point, you and your supervisor will review the documentation to confirm that all of the requirements for that month have been met. If your supervisor can agree to the listed attestations, they will sign your Monthly Fieldwork Verification Form for that supervisory period. This form must be signed by the last day of the calendar month following the month of supervision, and both you and your supervisor must retain copies.
  5. Once you’ve completed all of your fieldwork and met all of the requirements, your supervisor will sign your Final Fieldwork Verification Form. When you’re ready to apply, this is the form you’ll submit with your application.

Q: How do I document combined Supervised Fieldwork and Concentrated Supervised Fieldwork?

A: These should be documented on separate forms. Please note that Concentrated Supervised Fieldwork hours have approximately 1.33 times the temporal value of Supervised Fieldwork hours. In your documentation system, you may want to convert your Concentrated Supervised Fieldwork hours to Supervised Fieldwork hours to ensure that you’re on track to accrue all of the hours that you need to apply for certification.


Q: Is the audit process something that I should plan for?

A: Yes! It’s highly recommended that you keep all of your fieldwork documents organized and up to date in anticipation of an audit. If you’re audited, we’ll provide you with an audit log and guidance on what information or time period is being audited. With your documentation system already organized, it’ll be easy to complete the audit log. Feel free to review the Fieldwork Audit Process visual in the BCBA or BCaBA Handbook for more information.


Monthly and Final Fieldwork Verification Forms

Q: I see that the Monthly and Final Fieldwork Verification Forms require a BACB ID. Where can I find mine?

A: Your BACB ID is located in your BACB account. If you don’t have a BACB account, you’ll need to create one. We strongly suggest creating only one account to prevent delays in processing your application. If you experience any issues accessing your account, use the Contact Us Form for assistance.


Q: What should I do if I need to modify a Monthly Fieldwork Verification Form?

A: This one is important! Here’s what you can do:

  • If it’s still within one calendar month of the supervisory period, you can create a new version and get all of the necessary signatures.
  • If it’s more than one calendar month after the supervisory period has ended, you and your supervisor can make the relevant changes and have everyone involved initial them. Just make sure that your documentation can support the corrected form!

Q: If I lose a Monthly Fieldwork Verification Form, can I still count those hours?

A: Technically, yes. You may submit those hours, but if your fieldwork is selected for an audit, you must have additional documentation that sufficiently verifies the hours that were captured on the lost form. If your documentation is insufficient, those hours may not be accepted, and you may need to complete additional fieldwork.


Q: Can I submit the Final Fieldwork Verification Forms electronically?

A: Absolutely. Please see the Acceptable Signatures Policy for more information on acceptable types of digital signatures. When you apply, you’ll receive guidance on where to submit your forms.


Q: How can I ensure that my Fieldwork Verification Form will be accepted by the BACB?

A: Although we can’t guarantee that a form will be approved, we strongly encourage you to save your Fieldwork Verification Form and then open the saved file to review it. If the file is saved incorrectly and data is missing, your submission cannot be accepted. By reviewing the saved file in advance, you can ensure that your form isn’t missing any information.


Q: If I’m completing a Multiple Supervisors at One Organization Fieldwork Verification Form, should I enter the name of everyone who supervised me at the organization?

A: It depends! Let’s break it down:

  • Monthly Fieldwork Verification Form: No. The responsible supervisor is the only one who must be listed on and who must sign the form.
  • Final Fieldwork Verification Form: Yes. Anyone from the organization who provided supervision for you must be listed; however, the responsible supervisor should be the only one to sign the form.

Q: How should I determine who the responsible supervisor is?

A: If you’re receiving supervision from multiple supervisors at one organization, you’ll need a responsible supervisor—an individual who ensures that all of the supervisors’ activities are well organized and coordinated. The person who serves in this role must be identified on the supervision contract and must be able to agree to all of the relevant attestations on the Monthly and Final Fieldwork Verification Forms. For this reason, the responsible supervisor who signs the Final Fieldwork Verification Form must have been qualified to be a responsible supervisor for the entire duration of the supervision provided. Anyone who meets those requirements may act as your responsible supervisor.


Q: I’m completing a coordinated fieldwork experience with multiple supervisors, but they don’t all work at the same organization. Can I still use the Multiple Supervisors at One Organization Fieldwork Verification Form?

A: If your fieldwork meets the Multiple Supervisors/Settings requirements outlined in the Supervised Fieldwork Requirements section of the BCBA or BCaBA Handbook, you can use this form. The key is that your coordinated fieldwork experience is completed with a clearly defined Responsible Supervisor who ensures that the activity is well organized and meets all BACB fieldwork requirements.


Fieldwork Tracker

Q: Is the Fieldwork Tracker still available as a resource?

A: No. The Fieldwork Tracker was previously available as an optional resource that was sometimes requested during an audit. It was removed because we received feedback that it was stressful to track hours in both the Fieldwork Tracker and in a personal documentation system.

If you’re already using the Fieldwork Tracker, that’s OK! Just be sure to keep this in mind:

  • We won’t request the Fieldwork Tracker for an audit.
  • We no longer provide technical support for the Fieldwork Tracker, so you must use your own documentation system to track your fieldwork hours.
  • The Fieldwork Tracker is not comprehensive of everything that’s needed in a documentation system. These requirements have not changed, so you must work with your supervisor to ensure that your documentation meets all of the fieldwork requirements described in the relevant BCBA or BCaBA Handbook. This is vital, as your documentation will be used to show that you’re meeting all of the fieldwork requirements and receiving quality experience along the way.

Transitioning to the 2022 Requirements

Q: If I accrued experience hours on or before December 31, 2021, can I use those hours to meet the supervised fieldwork requirements that go into effect in 2022?

A: We’re glad you asked! If the experience hours you accrued on or before December 31, 2021, meet all of the 2022 fieldwork requirements (e.g., supervision contacts, observation requirements), and if you have documentation demonstrating that you meet all of the requirements in effect at the time of application, you can count your experience hours toward supervised fieldwork. The most important thing to keep in mind is that if you apply after January 1, 2022, your documentation must demonstrate that you meet the 2022 requirements. Check out the Guidance for Those Applying for BCBA Certification During the 2022 Transition or the Guidance for Those Applying for BCaBA Certification During the 2022 Transition resources for a crosswalk of the differences between both sets of requirements.


Thank you for reviewing these Q&As. We hope that they helped you feel more confident in documenting your fieldwork—and we encourage you to continue familiarizing yourself with our documentation requirements. The more you know, the more prepared you’ll be to complete your application and take the next steps toward certification.

New Resources for Documenting Fieldwork

Good news! We released two new resources that provide guidance on documenting fieldwork, and we no longer require the Fieldwork Tracker in the event of an audit. Please review the Documenting Fieldwork Hours video and the Documenting Fieldwork: Helpful Answers to Your FAQs blog for important insight into the supervision contract, ongoing documentation system, Monthly and Final Fieldwork Verification Forms, and beyond.

Documenting Fieldwork Hours

Documenting Fieldwork Hours

By the BACB

This video covers important information about how to best document your fieldwork hours. Check it out for helpful insight into the supervision contract, ongoing documentation system, Monthly and Final Fieldwork Verification Forms, and beyond.

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

Temporary Allowances for Experience/Fieldwork and Competency Assessments

Due to social distancing requirements during the COVID–19 pandemic, the BACB will allow temporary deviations for certain "with a client" requirements. As of March 1, the "observation with a client" sub–requirement that applies to Experience and Fieldwork will be temporarily waived for those without access to clients.

In addition, all RBT competency assessments received as of April 28, 2020 will allow "with a client" tasks to be fulfilled via "role play."

To learn more about COVID-19-related changes or news from the BACB, please visit our BACB COVID-19 Updates web page.