How to Become an Applied Behavior Analyst in Arizona

The state of Arizona has recognized applied behavior analysis (ABA) as a licensed profession since 2011 in accordance with Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS Title 32 Chapter 19.1, Article 4) pertaining to the regulation of psychologists.

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The Arizona Board of Psychologist Examiners administers the licensing process and evaluates candidates to ensure they comply with the qualifications.

Because an examining board issues the license, there is a greater degree of flexibility when it comes to meeting licensing requirements. Professional members of the board have practiced in the field and will look at the applicant’s actual experience and education, weighing all the evidence in light of their own opinions. This means that slight variations and different combinations of training and fieldwork deemed equivalent may be held as adequate for licensing purposes.

This is reflected on the official application form, which asks questions about qualifications but also allows you to clarify and expand on their answers—those clarifications will be taken into account by the board when making their decision about your application.

Arizona does not license Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analysts or Registered Behavior Technicians.

Steps To Becoming a Licensed ABA in Arizona

There are four steps you will have to follow to get an ABA license in Arizona:

Choose a Path to Licensure and Earn a Master’s Degree at Minimum
Fulfill Supervised Experience Requirements
Pass the National Applied Behavior Analyst Examination
Confirm You Meet Professional and Ethical Requirements and Apply for Licensure


Step 1. Choose a Path to Licensure and Earn a Master’s Degree at Minimum

Arizona recognizes two routes to fulfilling licensing requirements, all of which involving the three basic components of education, experience and examination.

Meet education requirements by:

  • Providing evidence of earning a master’s degree or better in an approved behavior analysis program and passing the national exam (state law requires passing the BCBA® Exam, though applying for the credential is not expressly required)

OR

  • Meet similar requirements by qualifying for the Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA®) certificate from the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) (all online and campus based programs accredited by the Association of Behavior Analysis International (ABAI) or that are on the BACB-approved course sequence list meet curriculum requirements; programs from other institutions may also qualify but would need to be evaluated by the BACB)

Arizona Revised Statutes require all applicants who have completed the required degree, coursework and experience after January 2000 to have completed at least 1,500 hours of supervised independent fieldwork or work experience over the course of a one-year period, even candidates that have earned the BCBA®. (The 1,500-hour requirement is not applicable to license candidates who may have completed these requirements or who otherwise earned the BCBA® prior to January 2000.)

Though the BCBA® gives three options for meeting the experience requirement (1) graduate program practicum of 1,000 hours; 2) intensive practicum of 750 hours; or 3) independent fieldwork of 1,500 hours), Arizona requires all candidates to complete the 1,500-hour experience requirement.

A BCBA® certificate is not required in order to become an ABA in Arizona, but the legal language outlining the education necessary to receive a license effectively sets the education standard as identical to that required to receive a BCBA®.

Because the BCBA® is effectively a qualifying document that allows you to fulfill the educational and testing requirements for the state license, you may choose to look at the credentialing process in more detail.

Click here for step-by-step instructions on the BCBA® credentialing process.

If you do not hold a BCBA®, you must independently verify that you have completed a master’s degree or higher in behavior analysis, psychology, or education, with coursework including at least 225 hours of instruction in the following areas:

  • Ethical and professional conduct: 15 hours
  • Definitions and characteristics of principle concepts: 45 hours
  • Behavior assessment and selection of intervention outcomes and strategies: 30 hours
  • Experimental evaluation of interventions: 20 hours
  • Measurement of behavior and data analysis: 20 hours
  • Behavioral change procedures: 45 hours
  • Discretionary content: 50 hours

All classroom hours must be taken in graduate-level courses at an institution accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.


Step 2. Fulfill Supervised Experience Requirements

The BACB sets a variety of practicum requirements for issuing a BCBA®, but Arizona diverges from the certification standard here in requiring 1,500 hours of supervised work experience or independent fieldwork.

Fieldwork must include some or all of the following components:

  • Conducting behavior assessments
  • Designing, implementing, and monitoring behavior analysis programs
  • Overseeing implementation of behavior analysis programs
  • Research, oversight, and supervision of behavior management programs

Supervised experience must meet the following requirements:

  • Maximum of half of the supervised hours involving small groups (10 participants max)
  • At least half of the supervised hours involve working one-on-one in direct contact
  • Supervision must be conducted by a licensed behavior analyst (licensed in Arizona or holding an equivalent license from another state)


Step 3. Pass the National Applied Behavior Analyst Examination

Again following the lead of the BACB, Arizona requires applicants to compete a nationally-recognized examination. The only option for this exam currently is the BCBA® examination, administered by Pearson VUE.

To take the test, you must register online with the BACB. Once approved by the board, you are eligible to sit the exam at a Pearson VUE testing center.

There are three available testing centers in Arizona, two in the Phoenix metroplex and one in Tucson.

The exam has 150 multiple choice questions and must be completed in four hours. The questions are divided into two general categories:

  • Behavior analytic skills
    • Fundamental elements of behavior change – 26 questions
    • Measurement – 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)
    • Intervention – 23 questions
    • Problem identification – 14 questions
    • Management, implementation, and supervision – 14 questions
    • Assessment – 12 questions
    • Measurement – 9 questions

Failing the exam three times will require you to get special permission from the board before making additional attempts at passing.


Step 4. Confirm You Meet Professional and Ethical Requirements and Apply for Licensure

There are nine basic requirements to become a licensed ABA in Arizona:

  • Submit an application to the Board of Psychologist Examiners
  • Be at least 21 years of age
  • Be of good moral character
  • Pay all required fees
  • Have the physical and mental capacity to safely and competently engage in the practice of behavior analysis
  • Not have committed any act or engaged in conduct that would constitute grounds for disciplinary action
  • Not have had a professional license or certificate refused, revoked, suspended, or restricted in any jurisdiction
  • Not have voluntarily surrendered such license while under investigation for unprofessional conduct
  • Not have any investigation, complaint, or allegation for unprofessional conduct pending in any jurisdiction

Arizona incorporates by reference the BACB Professional and Ethical Compliance Code for Behavioral Analysts as its ethics standard.

All required forms, including the master application form, can be downloaded from the Board of Psychologist Examiners website here.

The application must include:

  • The $350 application fee
  • A filled-out application form
  • Supervised training experience form
  • Mandatory confidential information form
  • Official transcripts from graduate institutions
  • Verification of credential, if applicable
  • A completed Arizona statement of Citizenship and Alien Status

An initial license fee of $500 must also be paid if the application is ultimately accepted.

Reciprocal Licensing of Behavior Analysts in Arizona

The state law governing ABA licensing allows the board to issue licenses on a reciprocal basis to ABAs who have already been licensed in another jurisdiction. The fee for a reciprocal license is $500 and the application fee is $200. The jurisdiction that issued the original license must have requirements equivalent to or exceeding the Arizona licensing requirements for ABAs. Additionally, candidates must:

  • Submit a written application form
  • Be of good moral character
  • Submit document to verify the original licensure and prove that the license holder remains in good standing in the issuing jurisdiction

License Renewal for Behavior Analysts in Arizona

Your license will expire on May 1st of every odd-numbered year unless renewed. The board will mail a notice 60 days prior to license expiration. Renewal requires filing a license renewal form and paying a $500 fee. You will have to attest to your compliance with state regulations and provide evidence that you have fulfilled a mandatory continuing education requirement.

The continuing education requirement mandates at least four hours in each of the following subjects during the two-year license period:

  • Professional ethics
  • Domestic violence issues, partner abuse, child abuse, or abuse of vulnerable adults
  • Bullying abuse education counts in the category of child abuse

Failure to renew the license will cause it to become inactive; the cost to reinstate the license is $200. Inactive licenses can be renewed without meeting the educational or compliance requirements for $85; this provides a path for ABAs taking a leave of absence without having to undergo a complete relicensing process should they return to active status in the future.

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