There are two credentials that professionals in our field are interested in: New York State Licensed Behavior Analyst (LBA) and Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). Below is information pertaining to these credentials.
The curriculum of the ABA Master's and Certificate programs are approved by the BACB for Task List 4 and our curriculum meets the current education requirements for the New York State LBA (see #22 here).
The state recently published questions and answers regarding the LBA, please see this resource.
License vs. Certification
There are two credential behavior analysts in New York may be interested in:
Board Certified Behavior Analyst (see BCBA website)
New York state provides credentials for one to legally practice ABA in our state. A licensed behavior analyst (LBA) can legally provide ABA services to individuals with autism and related disorders. There is also a certified behavior analysis assistant, which is a credential provided by the state for individuals who practice ABA with individuals with autism and related disorders under the direct supervision of a LBA (see consumer information and Q&A). There are other New York professions that have this type of service within the scope of practice, such as a Licensed Psychologist. Without an appropriate license, it is not legal to practice ABA.
An exception to the license rule is when one works in an exempt setting. Most public schools (elementary, high school, colleges) are exempt settings if you are a salaried employee of that setting. This means that one does not need to have a license to legally provide ABA services. However, having a license is still preferred, even in exempt settings.
Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) is a certification provided by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board. Broadly, certifications attest to a particular level of skill and some employers favor hiring individuals with certifications. In the field of Applied Behavior Analysis, the BCBA is considered the reputable certification. The BCBA credential is broad and not specific to working with any particular population or in any particular state. The BCBA credential is a national certification and many ABA employers in New York prefer to hire individuals who possess the BCBA credential.
Scope of Practice and Competence
Scope of Practice:
Scope of practice is the legal boundaries of services one can and cannot provide based on credentials (e.g., professional license). In New York, a Licensed Behavior Analyst is someone who practices Applied Behavior Analysis with "persons with autism and autism spectrum disorders and related disorders." See the state website here.
The law restricts the scope of practice, or the services one can legally provide, to individuals with a diagnosis of autism or a related disorder. In order to practice ABA with other populations of individuals, one needs to become licensed in a profession that includes ABA and those populations within its scope of practice. For example, the scope of practice for a Licensed Psychologist is broader and includes the practice of ABA with many populations.
Competence can be defined as skills that are "commensurate with their education, training, and supervised experience" (BACB, Professional and Ethical Compliance Code, see here, p. 4).
Scope of Practice v. Competence:
These are two different concepts. Scope of practice deals with professional licenses and the legal basis of providing some service. Competence deals with your qualifications and skill level in providing services. Sometimes these two concepts are in concert and sometimes they are in conflict. For example, a LBA with many years of supervised experience of providing ABA services to individuals with autism is in a good position. This person has a credential that includes the scope of practice of providing ABA services to individuals with autism and appropriate training. As a second example, someone may have a long history of high quality university training of providing ABA services to children with autism and children with ADHD. Once this second person becomes a LBA, that person has the competence and credentials to provide ABA services to individuals with autism. However, once an LBA that individual cannot legally provide ABA service to individuals with ADHD, despite his or her competence, because this type of service is not within the scope of practice of a LBA.
Experience for LBA v. BCBA
Currently, both the LBA credential and the BCBA credential require 1500 experience hours. However, the conditions under which one can earn the hours is different and some experience may lead to meeting one, but not the other, experience requirement.
LBA requires 1500 hours of experience working with individuals with autism because this is the scope of LBA-practice. LBA requires having a supervisor who is licensed to practice, which can be a LBA, but can also be a licensed psychologist or social worker. For the LBA, until the education requirement is met, one must gain experience within an academic program, like in the fellowships we offer at Queens College or SIBS Club. Once one graduates, a LBA applicant must apply for a limited permit to practice until s/he has earned the license. See Experience on the state's Q&A webpage.
BACB requires 1500 hours of experience doing relevant applied behavior analytic work and has rules about the percentage of experience that can be direct care and percentage of supervision that can be group v. individual. BACB allows one to begin accruing hours once s/he has begun BACB-approved coursework and that experience must be supervised by a BCBA who has completed the supervisor training and the supervisor does not need to be affiliated with the program where the students is completing coursework. See BACB's experience standards.
The most direct path for meeting both the LBA and BACB experience requirements is to gain experience through program-related ABA experiences with individuals with autism that are supervised by individuals who posses both the LBA and BCBA credentials. After one has met the state's education requirement, if there are remaining experience hours, the applicant can apply for limited permit to work with individuals with autism and be supervised by someone who possesses both the LBA and BCBA credentials.