How to Become an Applied Behavior Analyst in Arkansas

In a move that sets Arkansas apart from other state licensing jurisdictions, the state handles professional licensing for Applied Behavior Analysts under two different state agencies. This dual-agency approach to licensing establishes two separate tracks for becoming licensed as an ABA in Arkansas, dependent on what type of practice you plan to work in:

The Division of Developmental Disabilities Services (DDDS) of the Arkansas Department of Human Services – Alternatively, ABAs providing services to individuals with developmental disabilities are regulated under Act 1070 of 2011. That law, enacted from SB 189, directs the Division of Developmental Disabilities Services (DDDS) of the Arkansas Department of Human Services to establish rules and regulations for the licensing of applied behavior analysts.

The DDDS does not use a board to review licensing qualifications, so the application process is a straightforward matter of meeting the published requirements and filing the appropriate paperwork.

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Arkansas Board of Examiners in Counseling (ABEC) – The state law regulating licensure for counseling professionals, Title 17, Subtitle 2, Chapter 27, requires that any individual presenting themselves as a counselor or therapist for hire must obtain a valid license. A distinct license for behavior analysts providing therapy services is not available—instead, ABAs must apply for, and receive, a license as a professional counselor (or, alternatively, as a licensed marriage and family therapist, although this is less common) with a specialization in behavior analysis.

The Arkansas Board of Examiners in Counseling (ABEC) oversees both counseling licenses and ABA specialty endorsements for counselors.

Both options require credentialing from the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) as a qualification for the license or specialty endorsement. The acceptable credentials are:

  • BCBA® (Board Certified Behavior Analyst) – master’s level credential
  • BCBA®-D (Board Certified Behavior Analyst-Doctoral) (not considered a separate credential and does not grant a higher level of authority; requires the BCBA® to be earned first)

Neither licensing body in Arkansas recognizes assistant applied behavior analysts or registered behavior technicians.

Steps and Requirements To Becoming a Licensed ABA in Arkansas

Choose a Path to ABA Licensure Based on Your Career Path

  • Option A. Become Licensed as an Applied Behavior Analyst to Serve Individuals with Developmental Disabilities
  • Option B. Become Licensed as a Professional Counselor with an ABA Specialization
Qualify for National Certification in Behavior Analysis by Meeting Experience Requirements
Take the National Behavior Analyst Exam
Apply for a Specialization Endorsement or License


Step 1. Choose a Path to ABA Licensure Based on Your Career Path

Option A. Become Licensed as an Applied Behavior Analyst to Serve Individuals with Developmental Disabilities

You will most likely choose this option if you are planning on practicing in schools or other environments that would involve working with individuals with developmental disabilities that include:

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Language and learning disabilities
  • Other developmental delays

Entering an accredited master’s program in Applied Behavior Analysis, Psychology, or Education that meets BACB Acceptable Degree Definitions and curriculum requirements would be the first step in this process.

All programs accredited by the Association of Behavior Analysis International (ABAI) include a pre-approved course sequence. Programs through schools accredited by other accrediting agencies recognized by the US Department of Education may also meet curriculum requirements, but would need to be evaluated by the BACB to verify.

Many of these programs are available online, an option that allows maximum flexibility in completing the required coursework and the convenience of being able to participate in practicum at a location near you. Online options can also be more affordable than a traditional campus-based master’s program, which could involve relocation costs and sometimes out-of-state tuition, depending on the availability of local options.

Option B. Become Licensed as a Professional Counselor with an ABA Specialization

The first step to qualifying for a counseling license with an ABA endorsement in Arkansas is to obtain a graduate degree with a primarily content focus on professional counseling from a regionally accredited institution. Degree hours must meet the training content standards of the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Education Programs (CACREP).

Because there is little overlap in most graduate programs between courses that meet CACREP content standards and those through graduate programs that meet BACB Acceptable Degree Definitions or Approved Course Sequences required for credentialing, you might choose to obtain your master’s degree in a counseling-related field and opt for a graduate certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis. A graduate certificate would allow you to meet the educational coursework requirements for the BCBA® (Board Certified Behavior Analyst) certification without matriculating into a full behavior analyst master’s program.

After fulfilling the academic requirements, you would make an application to the Arkansas Board of Examiners in Counseling. The application process costs $250 and involves:

  • Taking and passing the National Counselor Examination (NCE) online
  • Passing an oral examination conducted by the board
  • Successfully passing a criminal background check

Upon successfully completing that process, you will be licensed as an associate counselor. Associate counselor is an intermediate license step; as an associate, you will have to complete 3000 hours of supervised therapy practice before becoming eligible to advance to LPC (Licensed Professional Counselor). The process typically takes about three years.

Becoming a licensed marriage and family therapist is an alternative to becoming an LPC; but the application process is similar.


Step 2. Qualify for National Certification in Behavior Analysis by Meeting Experience Requirements

Both the Arkansas Board of Examiners in Counseling (ABEC) and the Division of Developmental Disabilities Services (DDDS) delegate the licensure qualification process for applied behavior analysts to the national Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB).

To become legally recognized as an applied behavior analyst and to be able to offer ABA services in accordance with state law, you must first earn a BACB credential:

  • Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA®)

OR

  • Less commonly, the Board Certified Behavior Analyst-Doctoral (BCBA®-D) for those that might hold a doctorate

Note: Even if you already hold state-level licensure as an associate counselor or LPC through the Arkansas Board of Examiners in Counseling (ABEC), you would need to earn one of these nationally recognized credentials to be recognized at the state level as a specialist in applied behavior analysis and legally offer ABA services.

Note: The information that follows is specific to the more common BCBA®, master’s-level credential.

The BCBA® maintains experience standards you will have to meet to become certified:

  • 1500 hours of supervised independent fieldwork (performed outside of the master’s program)

OR

  • 1000 hours of practicum (performed as part of the master’s program)

OR

  • 750 hours of intensive practicum (performed as part of the master’s program, as an approved intensive curriculum)

During your period of pre-certification experience, a current BCBA®-holder is required to provide you with supervision and evaluation for each of the following categories. The supervisor will both attest to the completion of the required hours and evaluate your performance in a number of different aspects of care, including:

  • Timeliness
  • Professionalism
  • Self-analysis
  • Sensitivity to non-behavioral professionals
  • Skills-acquisition


Step 3. Take the National Behavior Analyst Exam

Once you have attained the requisite educational and experience requirements, you will have to pass the National Behavior Analyst Exam from the BCAB. The exam is administered by Pearson VUE and offered in exam centers around the nation.

You would be able to schedule to sit for the exam at testing centers located in Fort Smith, Little Rock, or Texarkana.

To take the test, you must first register online with the BACB. You will have to provide the necessary paperwork to verify that you have completed the educational and experience requirements for the BCAB certification when registering for and scheduling the exam.

The exam is a 150 question, multiple-choice test covering:

  • 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

For additional and more in-depth information on obtaining the BCBA®, visit the following page on the subject:

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


Step 3. Apply for a Specialization Endorsement or License

Obtain an ABA Specialty Endorsement From the Arkansas Board of Examiners in Counseling (ABEC)

If you obtain your BCBA® before starting on the LPC application process, you can apply for your specialization endorsement as a part of the LPC application.

Otherwise, you will have to file a separate specialization application with ABEC to receive your behavior analysis specialty endorsement.

You will have to provide documentation to verify your BCBA® with your application.

In either case, the specialization is an additional $50 fee.

Obtain an ABA License From the Division of Developmental Disabilities Services (DDDS)

Licensing from DDDS is straightforward but requires some additional preparation. If operating on your own, a business license and federal Employer Identification Number (EIN) are required. If applying as an employee of another service provider, you must get their EIN number.

You will have to undergo state and federal criminal background checks, documented on state form DDS 5088. This will cost $25 each; the federal check can be avoided if you have been an Arkansas resident from more than five years.

You will have to download and fill out a license application form from the DDDS website. Information required by the application includes:

  • Personal information
  • EIN of the service provider
  • A program description of the services you will be providing
  • Notarized copy of your BCBA® certificate
  • Adult and Child Abuse Registry Check results
  • State and federal criminal background check results

The application fee is $200 and registration for a two-year license period is an additional $200. Application processing can take up to 90 days.

License Renewal for Behavior Analysts in Arkansas

LPC licenses are renewed on a biennial basis, expiring on June 30 of the year that falls two years after the license was originally issued. Renewal packets are due in prior to May 30; packets mailed after that date are subject to a late fee of $200. Failure to renew within twelve months of expiration will result in the license expiring. There is no process for reinstatement; you will have to reapply for a license and the behavior analysis specialization.

The renewal fee is $300 and you must also document at least 24 hours of continuing education in counseling, including 2 hours of ethics training. Additionally, you will have to show 6 hours of continuing education specifically in behavior analysis in order to maintain your specialty license.

DDDS does not have a renewal requirement currently for ABA licenses.

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