How to Become an Applied Behavior Analyst in Missouri

Missouri’s Behavior Analyst Advisory Board, part of the Missouri Division of Professional Registration, issues behavior analyst licenses in the state.

To qualify for a license you need to earn and maintain the Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA®) credential issued by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB), a national organization whose certifications are the basis for licensing laws in most states.

Eligibility to sit for the certification exam requires an appropriate master’s degree at minimum that meets specific curriculum requirements and a period of supervised experience, either as part of a graduate program practicum or as independent fieldwork.

Missouri’s Behavior Analyst Advisory Board also licenses assistant applied behavior analysts (AABAs), a process that is also covered here.

Complete these steps to earn your behavior analyst license:

Earn a Qualifying Master’s Degree that Meets Curriculum Requirements
Complete an Acceptable Period of Supervised Experience
Pass the BCBA® Exam
Apply for a Behavior Analyst License with Missouri’s Behavior Analyst Advisory Board

Step 1. Earn a Qualifying Master’s Degree in the Behavior Analysis Field

The Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) requires that you have at least a master’s degree in Behavior Analysis, Education, or Psychology that meets board-specified curriculum requirements in order to qualify for the BCBA® certification exam. As a Missouri resident you can enroll in a number of such programs offered online through universities throughout the nation.

You can be sure your program meets curriculum requirements if at least ONE of the following applies:

The most qualifying master’s programs include a thesis and qualifying supervised field experience as part of their curriculum. Your thesis is based on your studies and field experience, representing your first serious academic contribution to your field.

Earning a post-master’s degree such as an Ed.S. or doctoral degree in ABA, psychology or education that meets curriculum requirements would also meet requirements for taking the exam.

ABA Master’s Program Prerequisites

Enrollment prerequisites differ from school to school. In some cases, an accredited bachelor’s degree in any major would be acceptable, while other schools require an undergraduate degree in a related field like:

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

Behavior analyst master’s programs may also require completion of undergraduate course prerequisites including:

  • Research methodology
  • General psychology
  • Applied behavior analysis
  • Learning and conditioning
  • Developmental psychology

Assistant Behavior Analyst Education Requirements

Missouri’s Behavior Analyst Advisory Board requires assistant BAs to have the BACB’s Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA®) credential.

To be eligible to sit for the BCaBA® exam you need an undergraduate degree that is typically in Behavior Analysis, Psychology, Teaching, or anther closely related field. The undergraduate degree must adhere to the BACB’s coursework requirements.

Step 2. Complete an Acceptable Period of Supervised Experience

Qualifying for the BCBA® exam also means meeting the BACB’s supervised experience requirement.This can be a supervised practicum or advanced practicum that takes place during your graduate program, or independent fieldwork.

To qualify your supervised experience must include these aspects:

  • 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 – Practica and intensive practica are included as part of the curriculum in some behavior analyst master’s programs. Qualifying practica is included in master’s programs with a BACB-approved practicum:

  • Practicum – At least 1,000 hours
  • Intensive practicum – At least 750 hours

Supervised independent fieldwork – If your master’s program includes a practicum that does not meet BACB requirements, you can still qualify for the BCBA® exam by completing at least 1,500 hours of independent fieldwork, or an equivalent combination of practicum and independent fieldwork.

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

  • You have a qualifying graduate degree and a full-time research/teaching faculty position in behavior analysis
  • You’ve had a doctoral degree for 10 years and have 10 years of practical experience in behavior analysis

Supervision Requirements for Assistant Behavior Analysts

The BACB’s supervised experience requirement to qualify for the BCaBA® exam would involve completing any one of the following:

  • Practicum – 670 hours of experience
  • Intensive practicum – 500 hours
  • Supervised independent fieldwork – 1,000 hours

These supervised experiences must meet the BACB’s standards requirements, which are identical to those for behavior analysts.

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Step 3. Pass the BCBA® Exam

Once you meet the BACB’s education and experience requirements you’re ready to sit for the BCBA® exam. You apply for this online with the BACB and with its partner Pearson VUE. You’ll also need to register with the latter to choose an examination date and testing location.

There are six Pearson VUE testing centers in Missouri:

  • Saint Louis – 10805 Sunset Office Drive, Suite 402
  • Saint Louis – 1600 S. Brentwood Blvd, Suite 120
  • Kansas City – 4240 Blue Ridge Blvd, Suite 705
  • Kansas City – 9200 Ward Parkway, Suite 101
  • Springfield – 2833 (A) East Battlefield, Suite 106
  • Columbia – 1700 East Point Drive, Suite 204

Veterans have the possibility of being reimbursed for their examination fees.

Board Certified Behavioral Analyst (BCBA®) Exam Content

The exam itself is computer-based and comprised of 150 graded multiple-choice questions with four possibilities each. 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

Examination Requirements for Assistants and Technicians

Applying for, scheduling, and taking the BCaBA® exam is similar to the process for the BCBA® exam. Candidates can sign up once you fulfill the education and supervised experience requirements.

Step 4. Apply for a Behavior Analyst License with Missouri’s Behavior Analyst Advisory Board

A complete application includes the following materials:

Application materials can be sent to:

Behavior Analyst Advisory Board
3605 Missouri Boulevard
PO Box 1335
Jefferson City, MO 65102-1335

Once your application has been received the advisory board will email you to confirm you have submitted a complete application or to request additional items from you.

Provisional Licenses

The Behavior Analyst Advisory Board can grant you a provisional license to work as a behavior analyst or assistant behavior analyst if you can fulfill all requirements for these positions but do not yet hold the BCBA® credential.

As a condition for this provisional license you must always work under the supervision of a licensed behavior analyst, even if you’re granted a provisional behavior analyst license. Fill out these forms to apply:

Your provisional license is valid for one year or until you earn a full license by gaining the appropriate BACB credential.

You’re allowed to renew this license once, making it valid for another year. Missouri’s Behavior Analyst Advisory Board can make an exception to this rule and allow you to renew a provisional license more than once on a case-by-case basis.

Out-of-State Reciprocity and Military Spouses

If you’re licensed in another state you can apply for a temporary 90-day license to work as a behavior analyst or assistant behavior analyst license. Military spouses who have had a related license for two of the past five years which is in good standing can also apply for this temporary license.

You apply by taking these steps:

  • Submit a full application for licensure with Missouri’s Behavior Analyst Advisory Board
  • Include your fingerprints for a background check with your full application, and pass this background check

If your application for full licensure is not approved or denied within 90 days you can write to the board asking for a one-time temporary license renewal, good for an additional 90 days.

Renewing Your License with Missouri’s Behavior Analyst Advisory Board

Your license expires every two years. The advisory board will mail you a license renewal application.

To be eligible for state renewal you must show proof of current BACB certification. That means renewing your BCBA® (for behavior analysts) or BCaBA® (for assistant BAs). These expire every two years and have their own continuing education requirements through the BACB:

  • BCBA®s – 32 units of approved continuing education
  • BCaBA®s – 20 units of approved continuing education and maintenance of supervision requirements

At least four hours of continuing education must relate to ethics. BACB-approved continuing education can include:

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

Assistant Behavior Analyst License with the Missouri Behavior Analyst Advisory Board

A complete application for an assistant behavior analyst license includes the following:

Application materials can be sent to:

Behavior Analyst Advisory Board
3605 Missouri Boulevard
PO Box 1335
Jefferson City, MO 65102-1335

Once your application has been received the advisory board will email you to confirm you have submitted a complete application or to request additional items from you.

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Throughout your tenure as an assistant behavior analyst a qualified behavior analyst must supervise your work. This means following the state’s supervision requirements for assistant BAs:

  • Only work under the direct supervision of a licensed behavior analyst, which includes at minimum consultation before initiation or modification of a client’s treatment plan
  • Frequent face-to-face supervision may be required
  • Supervision must be an interactive process that is more than peer review or a co-signature
  • May not initiate or modify a client treatment program without prior supervisor consultation
  • May contribute to the screening or evaluation process, but may not perform an evaluation or assessment
  • May not analyze or interpret evaluation data
  • May track the need for reassessment
  • May suspend treatment intervention that appears harmful to the client and immediately inform the supervisor
  • All client documentation prepared by the assistant BA is part of the permanent record

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