How to Become an Applied Behavior Analyst in New York

The state of New York began licensing Applied Behavior Analysts (ABAs) and Assistant Applied Behavior Analysts (AABAs) with the passage of the New York Chapter Laws of 2014, Chapter 8. The new legislation amended the existing state code by adding Article 167, governing the licensure and practice of behavior analysis in the state.

Like many states, the impetus in New York for passing a law regulating the licensing of ABAs was the tremendous rise in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) diagnoses. But unlike most other states, the focus of the New York legislation remains on ASD treatment rather than general applied behavior analysis practice.

The New York State Education Department (NYSED) handles professional regulation and licensure for behavior analysts, administering the licensing process through the Board of Regents under the umbrella of the Office of the Professions.

Though the Regents has appointed a subsidiary board of experts known as the State Board for Applied Behavior Analysis, the Board’s duties are strictly advisory when it comes to licensing. Rather than being responsible for issuing licenses, the Board serves to hear complaints and adjudicate regulatory violations.

The licensing law in New York was passed on January 10, 2014 and took effect on July 1, 2014. It outlines the scope of practice for behavior analysts and created two credentials to be issued by the Office of the Professions:

  • Licensed Behavior Analyst (LBA) – Licensure for full-authority applied behavior analysts
  • Certified Behavior Analyst Assistant (CBAA) – Certification for supervised assistant applied behavior analysts

The legislation offers relatively few specifics and instead delegates most of the details of qualifying for and obtaining these credentials to the Board of Regents.

New Behavior Analyst Licensing Requirements Effective January 2016

Initially, applicants were able to qualify for licensure in the state by holding the nationally-recognized Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA®) certification (or Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA®) from the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB), a national non profit that serves as the primary credentialing and professional standards organization for behavior analysts throughout the nation. This path was offered only temporarily to help grandfather in existing practitioners in the state, but has been unavailable since January of 2016.

Effective January of 2016 certification through the BACB no longer meets state licensing requirements for behavior analysts and assistant behavior analysts.

All applicants must follow the same steps and meet the same requirements as described below to become licensed or certified in New York.

Temporary or reciprocal licenses are not offered in New York state. Some exemptions are made for specific practices, such as for individuals employed by federal or state agencies or in school systems, but those individuals are not allowed to describe themselves as applied behavior analysts or advertise ABA services.

Steps To Becoming a Licensed ABA in New York

Earn a Master’s or Higher Degree in Applied Behavior Analysis From an Approved Program
Complete a Period of Supervised Practice
Apply for a License with the New York Office of Professions
Pass the New York Behavior Analysis License Exam

Step 1. Earn a Master’s or Higher Degree in Applied Behavior Analysis From an Approved Program

New York State has very strict educational requirements for all behavior analysts. You must earn a master’s degree or higher either specifically in applied behavior analysis, or in a related field with subject matter including learning and behavior analysis.

Only programs that are acceptable to NYSED are recognized as offering qualifying degrees. The Office of Professions maintains a list of acceptable programs here.

There are six colleges in New York registered on the approved list, although many of them offer more than one qualified program or offer the program from multiple campuses.

Because so few programs have been registered, through 2019 NYSED offers an expedited path for graduates from other New York state universities that have submitted applications for inclusion on the approved list of schools or schools that have been approved for other similarly licensed professions in the state like, psychology and counseling.

It is possible for graduates from out-of-state or unregistered programs to meet the educational standards, but their program must:

  • Be accredited by a regional accrediting organization
  • Determined to be substantially equivalent to registered programs
  • Meet the curricular requirements for registered programs as determined by state regulations

Applicants from these programs must undergo an individual review by the department before their license application can be approved.

Many students today opt for online master’s programs, which allow more flexibility and, frequently, lower costs than traditional campus-based programs.

Assistant Applied Behavior Analysts Education Requirements for Certification

Assistant applied behavior analysts can meet the education requirements to become a Certified Behavior Analyst Assistant (CBAA) with a bachelor’s degree or higher in behavior analysts or a closely related field that involved learning foundational topics in applied behavior analysis. The same accreditation standards apply.

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Step 2. Complete a Period of Supervised Practice

You will have to complete one year (1500 hours) of supervised practice in applied behavior analysis before you can apply for a license from the Office of Professions.

All of those hours must involve working with patients with autism, ASD, or ASD-related diagnosis. Any clock hours accumulated working with other types of patients may not be counted against the experience requirement in New York.

At least 150 hours of that experience must have been attained while in your master’s degree program as part of an internship or supervised practicum. There are strict requirements for the structure and content of the experience as laid out in the regulations. Some of the highlights of the experience requirements include:

  • Must be part of a planned program sequence of supervised experience
  • Must take place in a legally authorized setting with an approved supervisor
  • Must be conducted in continuous segments of not less than four months

Supervision must be provided by a current LBA or another authorized health care provider who works with ASD patients.

At the discretion of the Office of Professions, up to one year of experience in an internship, supervised practicum, or field experience, or as a teacher of applied behavior analysis, may also be accepted as meeting the practice requirements.

Assistant Applied Behavior Analyst Experience Requirements for Certification

Assistant applied behavior analysts can meet the experience requirements to become Certified Behavior Analyst Assistants (CBAA) buy gaining 1000 hours of qualifying experience. All other requirements described above apply.

Step 3. Apply for a License with the New York Office of Professions

Once you have met the educational and experience requirements, you may file an application with the Office of Professions. The application form is available from the website here, together with forms for documenting your experience and education.

The fee for LBA applications is $300, due at time of filing. Professional licenses in New York are granted for life, unless revoked—no renewals are necessary.

There are a number of other requirements you will have to meet for your application:

  • If you are currently licensed in another jurisdiction you must disclose it on the New York State application, and file a separate verification form
  • If you hold a BCBA® you will be asked to provide the certification number and issue date
  • You will have to confirm that you are a United States citizen or qualified alien
  • Submit proof of completion of a required training course in the identification of child abuse and maltreatment

Assistant Applied Behavior Analyst Application

Assistant applied behavior analysts would apply for registration using the same form and supplying the same supporting documents. The CBAA application fee is $225.

Step 4. Pass the New York Behavior Analysis License Exam

Once your application has been approved by the Office of Professions, it will be forwarded to the state examination administrator. The administrator will contact you with an authorization to test, describing how to register for the testing process and how to set up an appointment to take the exams.

You will have to take two different tests to complete the process of gaining your license in New York. All applicants must take the state Autism Exam, a standard multiple-choice examination of 30 questions covering autism-related knowledge areas that include:

  • Describing characteristics associated with an ASD diagnosis
  • Developing systems for behavior analytic services
  • Extracting relevant information for planning interventions
  • Researching, implementing, and evaluating behavior-analytic interventions for persons with autism

LBA-candidates will also take the 150-question multiple-choice Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) Exam. The exam is broken down 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
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Exam provider Pearson VUE conducts all New York Behavior Analyst Licensure/Certification Testing, which may be taken online or in one of more than ten on-site exam centers throughout New York state. You can schedule an exam and locate the closest examination center through Pearson VEU.

Assistant Applied Behavior Analyst Examination Requirements for Certification

CBAA candidates will take the 130-question multiple-choice Behavior Analyst Certification Board Exam typically associated with the BCaBA® (Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst) certification, which covers the same categories as the LBA test but with questions geared to common AABA tasks.

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