Educators understand that many different factors affect student achievement and behavior. Students enter schools with a variety of physical, cognitive, and psychological abilities, and in order to properly accommodate different students, schools need to be able to address these various needs on their own merits. For students who need additional support with behavior, board-certified behavior analysts (BCBA) can be both an enriching and necessary resource to intervene and assist with appropriate classroom behavior and social practices.
Graduates of the College of Mount Saint Vincent (CMSV) online Master of Science in Childhood Education and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (Dual Certification) program are prepared to take the BCBA exam and make an impact as behavior analysts or other education professionals.
What Do BCBAs Do?
Indeed’s career guide describes BCBAs as “(employees) who (provide and oversee) the treatment of patients with various disorders affecting their behavior. They specialize in behavior analysis and treatment and use evidence-based techniques to help patients increase desirable behaviors.”
For school-based BCBAs, students are obviously the primary patients. The support provided by BCBAs is critical for supporting those students’ learning, as well as promoting a stable learning environment for all students. BCBAs assist students with various conditions, including “developmental disabilities, intellectual disabilities, mental health disorders and other behavioral-related conditions.”
Some of the most common responsibilities of a BCBA include developing a behavior plan with goals and interventions to help students develop more appropriate behaviors. BCBAs help recognize triggers and help students develop strategies to manage behavior. They typically monitor student progress and adapt plans as necessary. Given the nature of working in a school community, BCBAs can also work to create a support system involving teachers and student parents or guardians.
According to Indeed, the most recent median salary is about $80,000 annually, with a range from $59,000 through $108,000. BCBAs are also part of a growing professional field. The job requires a specialized set of communication, problem-solving, and interpersonal skills. The ability to communicate clearly via both writing and speaking is paramount given the complex factors that drive human behavior. The ability to convey information in understandable terms to parents, students, and other non-psychology professionals is also crucial for BCBAs to effectively carry out their responsibilities.
What Qualifications Do BCBAs Need?
BCBAs must pass a certification exam in order to gain licensure. Like any professional exam, the BCBA exam is designed to ensure entry-level competence for fledgling BCBAs. Not everyone can simply register for the exam, however. To register for the BCBA exam, candidates must fulfill two requirements, as noted by the education test prep resource AATBS. First, they must have a graduate-level degree in psychology, special education, or another related field. Second, they also must complete one of two types of field experience: supervised fieldwork and concentrated supervised fieldwork.
Aspiring BCBA candidates can gain eligibility for the exam through coursework in the online Master of Science (MS) in Childhood Education and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) (Dual Certification) program from the College of Mount Saint Vincent (CMSV). This accelerated program includes both academic content and practical teaching experience through a residency.
In addition to BCBA eligibility classes, coursework includes the fundamentals of lesson planning and assessment, as well as insight into the classroom effects of language and sociocultural context. The program prepares graduates to instruct all elementary subjects and teach English to non-English speakers. Students can also pursue additional coursework that prepares them to sit for the BCBA exam.
The program is designed to include instruction on diverse topics, allowing students to pursue different professional paths. If students seek BCBA certification, they can become educational behavior analysts. Even if students choose not to pursue BCBA eligibility, career opportunities include elementary school teacher, private tutor, TESOL specialist, teacher assistant, and curriculum leader.