How to Become an Applied Behavior Analyst in Wisconsin

The Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services is responsible for issuing licenses to qualified applied behavior analysts in the state.

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To qualify for state licensure, you must earn the Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA®) credential through the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB), a national non-profit that has established the universally-recognized national certification standards that serve as the basis for ABA licensing in most states.

Complete these steps to earn the BCBA® certification in preparation for licensure in Wisconsin:

Obtain a Qualifying Graduate Degree
Complete an Acceptable Period of Supervised Experience
Pass the BCBA® Exam
Apply for a Behavior Analyst License with the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services


Step 1. Obtain a Qualifying Graduate Degree

The BCBA® requires candidates pursuing BACB certification to:

  • Earn an acceptable graduate degree from an accredited university, including coursework in behavior analysis
  • Complete a defined period of supervised practical experience
  • Pass the BCBA® exam

Acceptable graduate degrees are in the fields of Behavior Analysis, Education, or Psychology and meet specific curriculum requirements:

  • All master’s and doctoral degree programs that have earned accreditation through the Association for Behavior Analysis International’s (ABAI) Behavior Analysis Accreditation Board (BAAB) meet BACB curriculum requirements by including a BACB-Approved Course Sequence (ACS).
  • The BACB may also approve a program that is not BAAB-accredited or that does not include an ACS, provided it meets course content allocation requirements and receives BACB approval when submitted for evaluation at the time of application.

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

These graduate programs cover all the important topics in this field:

  • Applied behavior analysis introduction
  • Advanced behavior analysis
  • Behavior change theories and methodologies
  • Conducting behavioral assessments
  • Single subject research designs
  • Ethical issues and legal issues
  • Skinner’s writings on applied and theoretical behavior analysis

Comprehensive ABA master’s programs include a thesis and qualifying supervised field experience as part of their curriculum. You will use what you learn and observe during your experience in the field to develop a thesis topic that represents your unique contribution to the behavior analyst profession.

Alternately, candidates can qualify to take the BACB exam with the following:

  • An acceptable graduate degree from an accredited university
  • A full-time faculty position teaching behavior analysis
  • Passing the BCBA® exam

OR

  • An acceptable doctoral degree conferred at least ten years ago
  • Ten years of practical experience
  • Passing the BCBA® exam

 

Behavior Analyst Master’s Programs Prerequisites

Some behavior analyst master’s programs accept a bachelor’s degree in any major, while others require you to have majored in a more relevant field like:

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

ABA programs may also have prerequisites that include undergraduate courses in topics such as:

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

 


Step 2. Complete an Acceptable Period of Supervised Experience

To qualify for the BCBA® exam you must meet the BACB’s supervised experience requirement.

This can be a supervised practicum, advanced practicum, or independent fieldwork. To qualify your supervised experience must include these standards:

  • 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 many behavior analyst master’s programs. These must meet the following minimum requirements that are automatically included in master’s programs with a BACB-approved practicum:

  • Practicum – Must be at least 1,000 hours and include one week of supervision

OR

  • Intensive practicum – Must be at least 750 hours and include one week of supervision

You can find BACB-approved practica and intensive practica that are part of behavior analysis graduate programs by inquiring with schools in the BACB’s database. As a Wisconsin resident you can enroll in a number of such programs offered online by universities throughout the nation.

Supervised independent fieldwork – If your master’s program includes a practicum that is not already pre-approved by the BACB, you can still qualify for the BCBA® exam by completing at least 1,500 hours of independent fieldwork that includes two weeks of supervision.

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


Step 3. Pass the BCBA® Exam

Once you’ve reached this step you are qualified to take the BCBA® exam, and can apply for this online with the BACB. It is proctored through BACB’s partner Pearson VUE, and you’ll also need to register with them to choose an examination date and testing location.

There are six Pearson VUE testing centers in Wisconsin:

  • Ashwaubenon – 1150 Springhurst Drive, Suite 200
  • Madison – 8517 Excelsior Drive, Suite 202
  • Brookfield – 13555 Bishops Court, Suite L10
  • Milwaukee – 735 North Water Street, Suite 600
  • Kenosha – 6905 Green Bay Road, Suite 203
  • Eau Claire – 3610 Oakwood Mall Drive, Suite 102

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


Step 4. Apply for a Behavior Analyst License with the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services

A complete application includes the following:

All documents regarding your application should be sent to:

Department of Safety and Professional Services
PO Box 8935
Madison, WI 53708-8935

If can take between eight to 12 weeks for your application to be processed and your license issued.

License Renewal

You’ll need to renew your license with the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services by December 15 of each even-numbered year. As a requirement to renew with the state you must keep your BCBA® credential current.

That means renewing the BCBA® with the BACB every two years, a process that entails meeting the BACB’s continuing education requirements.

  • 32 units of approved continuing education
  • At least four hours must relate to behavior analyst ethics

Approved continuing education includes:

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

Legislative Updates

While Wisconsin currently does not license assistant behavior analysts or behavior technicians, these professions are gaining increasing recognition throughout the country. The BACB also provides credentials for these professionals.

If these professions are incorporated into Wisconsin law in the future you can find more information through the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services and the Wisconsin Association for Behavior Analysis.

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