How to Become an Applied Behavior Analyst in Mississippi

Established by an act of the state legislature in 2015, the Mississippi Autism Board is responsible for issuing your behavior analyst license. This body has recognized the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) as being the sponsor of the national certification you must earn and maintain to be eligible for state licensure: the Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA®) certification.

Eligibility for the BCBA® certification exam requires at least a qualifying master’s degree in behavior analysis or related field and acceptable supervised experience. In some cases this supervised experience can be completed as part of a qualifying master’s degree.

If you have a doctoral degree in behavior analysis or another approved field then you can also qualify to become a behavior analyst by earning the BACB’s BCBA®-D (doctoral) certification.

The Mississippi Autism Board also recognizes two related classes of professional that we’ll discuss in this guide:

To become a behavior analyst you need to:

Earn at Least a Master’s Degree in a Behavior Analysis Field
Complete a Period of Supervised Practice
Pass the BCBA® Exam and the Mississippi Autism Board’s Jurisprudence Exam
Apply for Licensure with the Mississippi Autism Board


Step 1. Earn at Least a Master’s Degree in a Behavior Analysis Field

The Mississippi Autism Board specifies that you must earn at least a master’s degree and recognizes any graduate school program that is approved by the BACB.

The BACB has its own minimum education requirements you must meet to be eligible for the BCBA®: a qualifying master’s degree in Applied Behavior Analysis, Education or Psychology that meets its acceptable degree definitions and curriculum requirements. Mississippi residents can find qualifying programs online and in-state.

Your master’s in behavior analysis program covers highly relevant topics like:

  • Ethical and legal issues
  • Behavior change methodologies
  • Single subject research designs
  • Skinner’s writings on applied and theoretical behavior analysis
  • Behavioral assessments
  • Applied behavior analysis introduction
  • Advanced behavior analysis

Many behavior analysis master’s programs include a thesis and supervised field experience. The thesis is a research paper that demonstrates the knowledge you’ve acquired throughout your studies. It can incorporate practica, mentored, and supervised experience in the field.

Graduate Study Prerequisites

Some programs in applied behavior analysis may require that you already have an undergraduate degree in behavior science or applied behavior analysis. Others will often accept a BA/BS in one of these majors:

  • Sociology
  • Psychology
  • Education
  • Special education
  • Social work

A master’s program may also identify specific prerequisite courses for prospective applicants, for example:

  • Research methodology
  • General psychology
  • Applied behavior analysis
  • Conditioning and learning
  • Developmental psychology

Education Requirements for Assistants and Technicians

Assistant behavior analyst – The Mississippi Board of Autism recognizes bachelor’s degrees conferred by any undergraduate program approved by the BACB. To be eligible for the BACB’s Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA®) examination you must have a bachelor’s degree in any subject from an accredited institution and complete coursework in the following subjects:

  • Principles and concepts of behavior analysis
  • Ethical and professional conduct
  • Research methods in behavior analysis
  • Applied behavior analysis

Behavior Technician The Mississippi Autism Board and the BACB require that you have at least a high school diploma or equivalent. This will also fulfill the education requirement to qualify for the RBT® certification exam.


Step 2. Complete a Period of Supervised Practice

The BACB requires you to complete a period of supervised practice to be eligible for the BCBA® exam. This must adhere to the BACB experience requirements. Some master’s programs include a BACB-approved practicum. You can also complete qualifying supervised experience through separate independent fieldwork done concurrently or after your studies.

Qualifying supervised practice adheres to guidelines that include:

  • Development of performance expectations
  • Behavioral skills training, observation, and delivery of performance feedback
  • Modeling of ethical, professional, and technical behavior
  • Guidance of behavioral case decision making, conceptualization, and problem solving
  • Review of written materials like reports, behavior programs, and data sheets
  • Evaluation and oversight regarding the effects of the behavioral service delivery and supervision
  • Up to half of the supervision can be conducted in small groups
  • The supervised experience must be conducted according to a written contract pre-established between you and your supervisor
  • The supervised experience must be well documented, including hours and activities

Master’s programs that incorporate BACB-approved practica Am approved practicum / intensive practicum that meets experience requirements is included as part of the curriculum in many master’s programs in applied behavior analysis:

  • Practicum – Requires 1,000 hours including one week of supervision (automatically included in master’s programs with a BACB-approved practicum)
  • Intensive practicum – Requires 750 hours including one week of supervision (automatically included in master’s programs with a BACB-approved intensive practicum)

Supervised Independent Fieldwork – If you attend a master’s program with a practicum that is not already pre-approved by the BACB, then you would document 1,500 hours of independent fieldwork, including two weeks of supervision to be eligible to sit for the exam.

Alternatives to supervised experience – You are also eligible to take the BCBA® examination if you meet either of these conditions:

Supervision Requirements for Assistants and Technicians

Assistant behavior analysts The supervised experience standards for assistant behavior analysts are identical to those for applied behavior analysts. Having any one of the following supervised experience will qualify you to take the BCaBA® exam:

  • Practicum – 670 hours of experience, including one week of supervision
  • Intensive practicum – 500 hours, including one week of supervision
  • Supervised independent fieldwork – 1,000 hours, including two weeks of supervision

Furthermore, throughout your career as an assistant behavior analyst you must be supervised by an approved licensed behavior analyst. This supervision must be for two percent of all behavior-analytic service hours you perform each month throughout your career, and five percent during your first 1,000 hours of post-certification practice.

Behavior technicians – By definition you’ll always work under the supervision of a behavior analyst or assistant. The Mississippi Autism Board stipulates that you must adhere to the supervision requirements of the BACB.

Before you can be eligible for the RBT® exam you must also complete 40 hours of training. This covers the subjects listed on the RBT® Task List and you are responsible for locating a BACB-approved training provider who has BCBA® or BCaBA® certification.

If you had training prior to January 2015 that covered the topics listed in the RBT® Task List then you may also fulfill the training requirement if a BCBA® or BCaBA® can vouch for you.


Step 3. Pass the BCBA® Exam and the Mississippi Autism Board’s Jurisprudence Exam

When you have an appropriate graduate degree and have met the experience requirement you can apply online to take the BCBA® examination. Once your application has been approved the BACB will notify their testing partner Pearson VUE that you are eligible to test. Then you can register with Pearson VUE, select an exam date, and choose a testing location.

There are currently two testing centers in Mississippi:

  • Jackson – 1755 Lelia Drive, Suite 404
  • Tupelo – 431 W. Main Street, Suite 340

Board Certified Behavioral Analyst (BCBA®) Exam Content

This exam is taken on a computer and consists of 150 graded multiple-choice questions. It has four choices per question and must be completed in four hours. Questions cover two main areas and are divided into these categories:

Basic behavior analytic skills

  • Fundamental elements of behavior change – 26 questions
  • Measurement – 15 questions
  • Specific behavior change procedures – 15 questions
  • Experimental design – 11 questions
  • Behavior change systems – 8 questions
  • Behavior change considerations – 3 questions

Client centered responsibilities (includes at least two ethics questions per section):

  • Intervention – 23 questions
  • Problem identification – 14 questions
  • Management, implementation, and supervision – 14 questions
  • Assessment – 12 questions
  • Measurement – 9 questions

Mississippi Autism Board Oral Jurisprudence Exam

This exam assesses your understanding of the laws that relate to the practice of behavior analysis, especially Title 1, Part 17 from the Mississippi State Code. Once you’ve submitted your full application, which is detailed in Step 4, the Mississippi Autism Board will contact you about scheduling your oral exam.

Examination Requirements for Assistants and Technicians

Assistant behavior analysts Applying for, scheduling, and taking the Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA®) exam is similar to the BCBA® exam. You’re eligible to apply once you’ve completed the BACB’s education and supervised experience requirements.

Behavior technicians You’ll need to pass two assessments to earn the BACB’s Registered Behavior Technician (RBT®) certification:

You can start the application process for these through the BACB.


Step 4. Apply for Licensure with the Mississippi Autism Board

At this point you will be qualified to fill out an application for behavior analyst licensure. Included in your application is a waiver that permits the board to obtain information about your BCBA® exam results from the BACB. You also need to request your graduate program to send official transcripts to the Mississippi Autism Board.

Your application and transcripts should be sent to:

Mississippi Autism Board
PO Box 136
Jackson, MS 39205

Licensure by reciprocity – You can be eligible for this if the licensure process you went through in another state had at least the same requirements as Mississippi.

Temporary licensure You can earn a temporary license if you have met all the licensure requirements except your examinations. Furthermore, you must meet these conditions:

  • Have already taken the BCBA® examination and be waiting for your score
  • Be registered to take the next Mississippi Autism Board oral jurisprudence examination
  • You must apply for full licensure as soon as possible after completing your exams

The temporary license is valid for six months, during which time you must complete your outstanding testing requirements. If you hold a temporary license you must also work under the supervision of a licensed behavior analyst. You can indicate you’re applying for a temporary license on the behavior analyst application form.

Behavior analyst continuing education and license renewal – Your state license expires every three years. To renew you must submit a renewal form, fee, and proof of continuing education – 12 hours each year. This must be advanced education that is directly related to the performance and practice of behavior analysis. It should follow these guidelines:

  • Include at least one hour of ethical or legal education
  • A maximum of 50 percent may be derived from online and home study courses
  • Be approved by the BACB or the Mississippi Autism Board

Your BCBA® certification must also always be maintained with the BACB and renewed every two years. This involves completing at least 32 hours of approved continuing education within this period (at least four hours of education must be related to ethics). BACB continuing education can include:

  • College and university coursework
  • Scholarly activities
  • Retaking and passing the certification exam
  • Education from approved providers
  • Teaching or instruction activities

You can apply BACB-approved continuing education to both your BCBA® certification and maintaining your state license.

Licensure Requirements for Assistant Behavior Analysts

An application for this license is made on the same form as the behavior analyst license. It includes a release you must sign that allows the Mississippi Autism Board to access information about your BCaBA® exam through the BACB. You also need to request official transcripts from your school to be sent to the Mississippi Autism Board at the address listed above.

At the time of application and throughout your career you must provide proof of ongoing supervision by a behavior analyst.

Licensure by reciprocity – You can be eligible for this if the licensure process you went through in another state had at least the same requirements as Mississippi.

Temporary licensure You can earn a temporary license if you have met all the licensure requirements except your examinations. Furthermore, you must meet these conditions:

  • Have already taken the BCaBA® examination and be waiting for your score
  • You must apply for full licensure as soon as possible after completing your exams

The temporary license is valid for six months, during which time you must complete your outstanding testing requirements. You can indicate you’re applying for a temporary license on the assistant behavior analyst application form.

License renewal – Your license expires every three years. To renew you must submit a renewal form, fee, and proof of continuing education. You must complete 12 hours of continuing education for your state license each year, and 20 hours of continuing education every three years to maintain your BCaBA® through the BACB. The terms of your continuing education are identical to those for behavior analysts above.

Licensure Requirements for Assistants Behavior Technicians

As a behavior technician you do not submit an application. Rather, your supervising behavior analyst or assistant behavior analyst is responsible for submitting a behavior technician registration form on your behalf to the Mississippi Autism Board at the address above. This shows they are responsible for supervising you.

You can be listed on this form once you have located a willing BCBA® or BCaBA® to supervise you and have met the examination and training requirements up to this point.

License renewal You’ll need to keep your RBT® certification current with the BACB. This means you must pass the annual RBT® Competency Assessment and ensure your supervision requirements are continually met.

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