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Fieldwork-Friendly Job Roles: Top Jobs to Gain BCBA Fieldwork Experience

The aim of the article this week is to explore several job roles that can help provide relevant fieldwork experiences for trainees accruing hours for their board certified behavior analyst (BCBA) certification. Earning supervised fieldwork hours on-the-job allows trainees to immerse themselves in applied behavior analysis (ABA) practice under the close supervision of a BCBA. Since your supervised fieldwork hours should allow you to practice applying your ABA knowledge to real-world situations it is important to seek guidance from a competent BCBA that practices with the populations and settings that you are interested in. For example, if you are a trainee that is interested in working with adult populations- pursuing a job in a residential facility would allow you to see the day-to-day work that BCBAs are doing in this setting. Being employed at the organization that ties into your future career plans will paint the best picture of the work you will be completing in the future as a BCBA. Up to 2,000 supervised fieldwork hours are required to sit for the BCBA exam- so you will definitely get a lot of experience doing things that a BCBA does! 

However, before jumping into a new job and documenting your hours it is important to refer to the behavior analyst certification board (BACB) handbook for BCBAs. Before beginning to accrue ANY supervised fieldwork hours, a trainee must:

  • Find a qualified supervisor and have a signed supervision contract with that individual.


  • The trainee must have started (for example, attended one day of class) their graduate-level behavior analytic coursework, or have 10 years of postdoc experience if they are applying to sit for the BCBA exam under Pathway 4.

Once a trainee has a qualified supervisor, their supervisor contract signed, and is attending class for their graduate degree- then they can start to accrue supervised fieldwork hours. There are multiple options for trainees who are looking for options to earn fieldwork hours and a paycheck. Some options for trainees include work as:

A Registered Behavior Technician (RBT)

As I stated before, finding a job role that allows trainees to accrue supervised hours is ideal as it allows them to fully engage in the field of applied behavior analysis (ABA). On my own supervision journey, I worked as a Registered Behavior Technician (RBT)- I am so thankful for the time I spent in the field before becoming a BCBA. The experience not only provided me with practical insights into the field, but also enhanced my abilities as a supervisor by allowing me to empathize with the RBTs I oversee, having been in their position myself.

An RBT is an individual who provides direct behavior-analytic services to consumers and is credentialed by the behavior analyst certification board (BACB). RBTs can work in-homes, schools, clinics and in the community. They work under the supervision of a BCBA, and while gathering supervision hours can work closely with their supervisors to develop skill-acquisition and behavior reduction plans and treatments for clients. RBTs accruing supervised fieldwork hours can assist with writing behavior plans and documentation, training others, and researching interventions to help their clients flourish.

To become an RBT, you must be at least 18 years old and have a high school diploma. A 40-hour training is required as well as a completed background check. Next, you’ll need to complete a competency assessment and pass the BACB’s RBT examination.

A Behavior Interventionist

Behavior Interventionists use applied behavior analysis (ABA) techniques to implement behavior intervention plans that address maladaptive behaviors. Their work is similar to RBTs, but they don’t have the specific RBT credential through the BACB. The term behavior interventionist can be interchangeable with behavior therapist or behavior intervention specialist- depending on the location and setting that they are working in. Behavior Interventionists can be found working with children in schools, adults in prisons or residential facilities, with individuals who have substance abuse disorders and in-home with clients.

The job duties of a Behavior Interventionist can involve working with a team, such as a BCBA and teachers, to create a plan to improve a specific client’s behaviors. Implementing the behavior plan, tracking progress, providing assessments, and training others are all activities that can count towards supervised fieldwork hours under the guidance of a BCBA if the work is behavior analytic in nature. 

Behavior Interventionists requirements vary, with some organizations requiring only a high school diploma and others a bachelor’s degree in child development or similar fields.

A Special Education Paraprofessional

If a trainee is interested in working as a school BCBA in the future, becoming a paraprofessional would be an excellent way to get an inside look into school-based services, requirements, and policies. Paraprofessional aides may be asked to speak with large teams of teachers and administrators when working on a student’s individualized education program (IEP)- which is also required of BCBAs in a school setting. 

A special education paraprofessional, or parapro, is an individual who provides assistance to a teacher in a special education classroom. They can work with a client one-on-one or assist several students. When special education parapros provide behavioral support to students they may use behavior analytic techniques. If a student in school has a behavior intervention plan written by a BCBA, a parapro might be tasked with observing the student and taking data throughout the day. They may also implement behavior plans and track progress for the teacher and BCBA they are working under. In cases like this, a paraprofessional could receive supervision from the school BCBA if they have a supervision contract and meet the BACB’s requirements for supervised fieldwork.  

Paraprofessionals don’t require the same certifications as teachers, and the requirements for this job vary by state. However, under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) a paraprofessional must have at least a high school diploma, and either have completed two years of college, at least an associate’s degree, or pass a formal state assessment. 

A Special Education Teacher

Similar to a special education paraprofessional- special education teachers may be able to use their work experiences to accrue supervised fieldwork hours for the BCBA credential. Special education teachers work with children who have various disabilities in a classroom setting. They develop Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) for their students and may work alongside a BCBA in the school to develop specific plans for challenging behaviors. Under the supervision of a BCBA, the hours special education teachers spend graphing progress, tracking behaviors, and training others on behavior analytic techniques can be used towards supervised fieldwork hours. 

In public schools, Special education teachers are required to have a bachelor’s degree and a state-issued certification or license. While requirements for the special education certification or licensure varies by state- it usually includes a student-teaching program, a background check, and a general teaching certification test. 

A Direct Support Professional (DSP)

A Direct Support Professional (DSP) is a caregiver for individuals with disabilities. They support these individuals by helping them live more independent lives and access their communities, assist with life skills, and job training. DSPs work in group homes and residential care facilities, day programs, and assisted living nursing homes. Sometimes DSPs are referred to as Support Specialists or Support Coordinators- all of these terms can be used interchangeably. Under the supervision of a BCBA- a DSP could implement behavior plans, collect data, and collaborate with other professionals involved in the care of a client. All of these tasks could be used for supervised fieldwork hours if they are behavior analytic in nature. 

BCBAs who work in group homes, day programs, and residential facilities with adults and children assess and design treatment programs and often already depend on their DSPs to take data and implement the programs created to ensure client success. BCBA trainees who are interested in working with adults to support job skills training and daily living skills would benefit from working under a BCBA as a DSP. 

To become a DSP, you must have a high school diploma or equivalent, a CPR certification, and a Crisis Prevention Intervention certification must be obtained within 90 days of being hired.

In conclusion, BCBA trainees should think about choosing employment at an organization that can help shape their professional development. Actively seeking out career opportunities that align with your future career goals can add a plethora of experiences and knowledge to your professional repertoire. Each role discussed in this article can offer unique opportunities to accrue supervised fieldwork hours, earn wages, develop as a professional, and leave a lasting impact on the clients you serve. 




Behavior Analyst Certification Board. (2023). Board Certified Behavior Analyst® Handbook.

Behavior Analyst Certification Board. (2024). Registered Behavior Technician® Handbook. (2024, February 23). What Is a Behavior Interventionist? Job Description, Salary, Training and Skills. 

Opportunity Village - Disability Services & Support Organization. (2023, November 28). What does a direct support professional do? (and how to become one). 

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2024, April 17). Special education teachers : Occupational outlook handbook. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

Vierstra, G. (n.d.). Paraprofessionals: What you need to know.