How to Become an Applied Behavior Analyst in Nevada

Nevada’s Board of Psychological Examiners is responsible for licensing behavior analysts. It recognizes the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) as being the national organization that confers the required credential you must earn to be eligible for state licensure: Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA®) certification.

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The state Board of Psychological Examiners also recognizes two other related classes of professionals described in this guide:

  • Licensed assistant behavior analyst – requires earning BCaBA® (Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst) certification from the BACB
  • Certified autism behavior interventionist – requires 40 hours of approved training and does not involve the BACB

You can become eligible for state licensure as a behavior analyst by completing a qualifying master’s or higher degree, gaining qualifying experience and passing the BCBA® exam:

Earn a Master’s or Higher Degree in Applied Behavior Analysis, Education or Psychology
Complete a Period of Supervised Practice
Pass the BCBA® Certification Exam
Apply for Licensure with Nevada’s Board of Psychological Examiners


Step 1. Earn a Master’s or Higher Degree in an Applied Behavior Analysis, Education or Psychology

To be eligible for the BCBA® exam you need to have an acceptable master’s degree in Applied Behavior Analysis, Education, or Psychology that meets BACB degree definitions and curriculum requirements:

Some schools also offer post-graduate ACS courses for candidates that already hold a graduate degree but who need to complete ABA-specific courses in order to meet eligibility requirements for the exam

OR

  • If your graduate program does not include a BACB pre-approved course sequence, confirm that it includes the proper course content allocation. Programs without a pre-approved course sequence would need to be evaluated by BACB

Master’s programs in behavior analysis include a thesis and field experience components. You can draw on supervised experience like a practicum to develop your thesis as your own contribution to the field of behavior analysis.

Having an advanced post-master’s graduate degree such as an Ed.S. or doctoral degree in these fields would also qualify you to sit for the exam.

Master’s Degree Prerequisites

You’ll need to meet degree and course prerequisite requirements before enrolling in an ABA master’s program. Some graduate ABA programs admit students with a bachelor’s degree in any field, while others may require a BA/BS degree in fields like:

  • Education
  • Counseling
  • Psychology
  • Special education
  • Social work

Undergraduate course prerequisites you may encounter include:

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

Education Requirements for Assistant BAs and Autism Behavior Interventionists

Assistant behavior analysts – To become licensed by Nevada’s Board of Psychological Examiners you must pass the BACB’s Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA®) examination. Qualifying for this requires a bachelor’s degree in any subject from an accredited institution and completion of coursework in the following subjects:

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

Autism behavior interventionists You must complete 40 hours of training in applied behavior analysis techniques to qualify for certification by the Nevada’s Board of Psychological Examiners. This must be taught by any of the following professionals:

  • Licensed behavior analyst
  • Licensed assistant behavior analyst
  • Anyone who is certified by the BACB

Your training must be approved by the state board and you can keep track of it on an official training log that you’ll submit with your state certification application.


Step 2. Complete a Period of Supervised Practice

You must meet the BACB’s experience requirements to be eligible to take the BCBA® exam. In some cases this can be earned as part of your master’s program as a practicum or intensive practicum. You can also fulfill this requirement through supervised independent fieldwork done concurrently or after your master’s program.

For your supervised experience to be valid it must include these characteristics:

  • 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 A practicum or intensive practicum that meets the experience requirements is included in many APA master’s programs. It will follow these guidelines:

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

Or

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

Supervised independent fieldwork – If your master’s program does not already include a BACB-approved practicum then you can document 1,500 hours of independent fieldwork, including two weeks of supervision to become eligible to sit for the BCBA® exam.

Alternatives to supervised experience – You can also become eligible to take the BCBA® examination if either of these conditions apply:

Supervision Requirements for Assistant BAs and Autism Behavior Interventionists

There are two parts to supervision for these professionals. One involves the supervision requirements you must meet to be eligible for state licensure, the other involves supervision requirements you must adhere to throughout your career.

Assistant behavior analysts Qualifying for the BCaBA® exam involves meeting one of these supervised experience requirements:

  • 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

Certified autism behavior interventionist There is no supervision requirement to qualify for a BACB exam or certification because these professionals are not involved with the BACB. Skip to step 3.

Supervision Requirements Throughout Your Career

As an assistant behavior analysis or certified autism behavior interventionist, you’ll need to maintain a certain level of supervision throughout your career. Supervision requirements for both these professionals include:

  • At least one hour per month of one-on-one supervision
  • At least four hours per month of direct supervision, including video conferencing or group meetings

Assistant behavior analyst – You’ll need to be supervised by a behavior analyst or psychologist for at least five percent of the hours you work each month.

Certified autism behavior interventionist – You’ll need to be supervised by a behavior analyst, assistant behavior analyst, or psychologist for at least 10 percent of the hours you work each month.


Step 3. Pass the BCBA® Certification Exam

After completing your qualifying master’s degree and supervised experience you are ready to sign up for the BCBA® examination. Once your application has been approved the BACB will notify their testing partner Pearson VUE that you are eligible to sit for the exam.

Next you register with Pearson VUE, select an exam date, and choose a testing location. There are two testing centers in Nevada:

  • Reno – 5250 S. Virginia, Suite 301
  • Las Vegas – 101 Convention Center Drive, Suite 330

Board Certified Behavioral Analyst (BCBA®) Exam Content

This exam is computer-based and comprised of 150 graded multiple-choice questions. It has four choices per question and a four-hour time limit. 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

Exam requirements for assistant behavior analysts The process of applying for, scheduling, and taking the BCaBA® exam is similar to that for the BCBA® exam. The BCaBA® exam’s content is also similar to the BCBA® exam.


Step 4. Apply for Licensure with Nevada’s Board of Psychological Examiners

Behavior analysts and assistant BAs – At this point you can submit a complete application packet to Nevada’s Board of Psychological Examiners:

State of Nevada
Board of Psychological Examiners
4600 Kietzke Lane, Building B-116
Reno, NV 89502

A complete application includes:

Once the board has determined your application packet to be full and complete it will issue you a provisional license. This cannot be renewed and allows you to work in your field. You have up to one year to complete the state law examination and convert your provisional license to a full license.

Board of Psychological Examiners – State Law Examination

All professionals: behavior analysts, assistant BAs, and autism behavior interventionists The state Board of Psychological Examiners will send you information about scheduling your state examination once you’ve submitted your complete application for licensure/certification. This exam is scheduled at least 90 days in advance and evaluates your understanding of the laws that relate to the practice of behavior analysts:

Once you pass this exam you’ll be issued a full license/certification in your field.

License renewal for behavior analysts and assistant BAs Your license expires every two years. To renew this with the Board of Psychological Examiners you would complete the renewal form they mail you, and return this with your renewal fee and proof of completing 30 hours of continuing education.

Your continuing education must be approved by Nevada’s Board of Psychological Examiners and adhere to these standards:

  • Include at least 6 hours in scientific/professional ethics, standards, and common areas of professional conduct
  • Not more than 15 hours can be obtained from an approved distance education course
  • No credit is given for teaching a workshop, seminar, or class

Board-approved continuing education must relate to applied behavior analysis or a closely related field. It can include activities like workshops, seminars, classes, or distance learning. Board-approved education can be sourced from any of the following:

  • Undergraduate or graduate-level classes from an accredited university
  • The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy
  • The American Counseling Association
  • The American Medical Association
  • The American Psychiatric Association
  • The American Psychological Association
  • The Association for Behavior Analysis International
  • The Behavior Analyst Certification Board
  • The International Congress of Psychology
  • The National Association of Social Workers

You are not required to maintain your certification through the BACB.

Certification requirements for autism behavior interventionists You must submit the following forms to Nevada’s Board of Psychological Examiners to make a complete application:

Once you successfully submit these forms you’ll be issued a provisional certification and have a year to schedule and take the State Law Examination described above. Upon passage your provisional certification is converted to a full certification.

Your full certification with the board expires every two years. The board will mail you a renewal form that you can return along with the following to renew your certification:

  • Renewal fee
  • Proof that you provide at least four hours of direct service to clients each week
  • Proof of satisfactory completion of an annual exam
  • Proof of continuing education to renew your certification.

Every two years you must complete at least 24 hours of board-approved continued education that meet these standards:

  • At least 6 hours must be in scientific/professional ethics, standards, and common areas of professional conduct
  • Not more than 12 hours can be obtained from an approved distance education course
  • No credit is given for teaching a workshop, seminar, or class

Approved continuing education includes that provided by any organizations listed above for behavior analysts and assistant BAs.

Every year your supervising psychologist, behavior analyst, or assistant BA will give you an exam to test your basic competency as an autism behavior interventionist. This exam is videotaped and a recording is sent to the Board of Psychological Examiners.

Legislative Updates

Many states have adopted “registered behavior technician” as the job title for what Nevada terms “certified autism behavior interventionist.” This revised classification requires the BACB’s RBT® (Registered Behavior Technician) certification. Nevada has not taken this step, however you should check for any legislative updates that may incorporate such changes.

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