Among the main professional organizations in the field of behavior analysis that students, as well as established professionals, should recognize are the Behavior Analyst Certification Board and the Association for Behavior Analysis International. These international and national organizations advocate for their members and other professionals in the field of behavior analysis as well as providing training opportunities, publications for peer-reviewed articles in research and clinical practice outcomes and other benefits. Joining a professional organization early on in your career – when possible, before you have even completed your degree – can help you begin networking, developing your knowledge and skills through training events and tools and start looking for your first job or internship in the field. While you must meet the requirements to attain certification to become part of the Behavior Analyst Certification Board, other programs allow you to join without first meeting professional standards.
The Behavior Analyst Certification Board
If there is one professional organization that is most important to become a part of in this field, it is the Behavior Analyst Certification Board. This entity awards the professional credentials that are most important for qualifying for the jobs you want, including:
- Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA)
- Board Certified Behavior Analyst-Doctoral (BCBA-D)
- Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA)
- Registered Behavior Technician (RBT)
The Behavior Analyst Certification Board has been responsible for credentialing behavior analyst and other professionals in the field since 1998. As of 2019, this organization has awarded certification to upwards of 36,000 behavior analysts and more than 55,000 behavior technicians. More states than not now require licensure for behavior analysts, and in many states, obtaining board certification is a requirement for licensure. To qualify for these credentials, candidates must meet degree or diploma requirements, coursework or training hour requirements, fieldwork experience or a professional competency assessment and a multiple-choice exam.
There’s no student credential or membership with the Behavior Analyst Certification Board, but it’s still important to familiarize yourself with this entity early on, as you are choosing a degree program, to make sure that your program meets the board’s coursework requirements.
The Association for Behavior Analysis International
Dating back to 1974, the Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI) now boasts more than 9,000 full members and 28,000 affiliate members worldwide. The benefits of membership with the ABAI include access to the peer-reviewed scholarly journal Perspectives on Behavior Science, participation in a member directory that numbers more than 7,000 professionals and access to a job seeking tools and a platform that includes more than 900 job listings in the field of behavior analysis.
Student-level memberships are available at a discounted rate — $93 in the United States for the 2019 year – to students at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, but only if they are studying full-time. Student members of this organization enjoy most of the benefits offered to full members, including limited voting rights – student members elect a student representative to the Executive Council.
The membership year for the Association for Behavior Analysis International goes from September 1st through August 31st.
State- and School-Specific Organizations
In addition to international and national organizations, there are many professional organizations for behavior analysts at more local levels. Joining your state’s professional behavior analysis association or other organization is an excellent way to keep tabs on what’s going on in the career field locally. Since state laws, rather than federal laws, are the ones that typically affect licensing requirements and procedures, it’s crucial to current and future practitioners of behavior analysis to know what’s happening in your region in terms of politics, job growth patterns and the need for services.
Many colleges and universities also host their own student clubs or other associations for behavior analysis. Although these organizations may not be immediately recognizable to outsiders, they can offer great opportunities for experience and networking in the field. Participants in these student organizations may have the chance to present at conferences, take part in community service efforts that are relevant to their program of study and discuss the latest published research in the field with students who share your professional interests.
Joining these groups also allows students to pursue leadership opportunities if desired, which can provide valuable experience in every career field.