The Role of a BCBA


The Role of a BCBA

What is a BCBA?

A BCBA is a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst. To become a BCBA, a person must obtain a master’s degree in special education, psychology, or ABA. In addition to the degree, they must complete at least one year and countless hours of supervision by a BCBA. These hours include both direct work and indirect work. They also have to pass a board exam before receiving their certification. They need to maintain accreditation by keeping up with current research and completing continuing education units. On average, it takes a person 2 to 3 years to get their BCBA certification.

What does a BCBA do?

After years of school and studying for the exam, a BCBA’s overall job is to create, individualize, maintain, evaluate, and supervise a learner’s ABA program and the team of RBTs that work with the child. Each day is spent maximizing the learner’s potential in humane and compassionate ways. Some of the daily tasks of a BCBA are outlined below:


  • Supervision of therapy sessions: The BCBA will spend time doing direct supervision of sessions. The BCBA will model new programs, address questions, review data with the RBT, provide feedback, and just play and engage with the learner and the RBT.


  • Caregiver support: The BCBA will also spend time one-on-one with parents and caregivers. This includes reviewing programs and data, setting new goals, discussing strengths and challenges, problem-solving, and creating goals for the adults to work on with the learner at home.


  • Updating cases: BCBAs also make sure learners receive the best care possible outside of face-to-face sessions. Outside of the time they are directly supervising sessions,  they are revising treatment plans, updating goals, reviewing and analyzing data, preparing program materials, and creating staff training materials. They are constantly and carefully assessing the overall quality of the ABA program for each learner.


  • Meetings: BCBAs meet with their clinical director weekly to check in on all cases, problem solve, and receive ongoing training. They will also meet with the learner’s team of BTs to provide a space for collaboration and idea-sharing.


  • Collaborating with other providers: When given the opportunity, BCBAs will attend IEP meetings and collaborate with other providers such as Occupational Therapists, Speech-Language Pathologists, pediatricians, and teachers that also work with the learner. This helps ensure that they know everything there is to know about the learner and share progress as a team.


  • Research: BCBAs spend countless hours researching behavior analytic literature to stay updated on the most effective and safe ABA practices. They collaborate with mentors and colleagues to solve problems and plan the most compassionate ways to approach learners.


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