The Pennsylvania Behavioral Specialist License application process can seem like an overwhelming task. In fact, each section of the app requires a fair amount of attention to detail. But from personal experience, completing the verification process for the 90 hours of evidence-based coursework was quite time-consuming and challenging. I have provided five tips that I hope will help you as you complete this section of the application. Of course, the best thing to do is review the app’s instructions within the app.

*It should be noted that the information provided below comes from my personal experience during the licensing process. It should not be considered official in any capacity. If you have any questions regarding the licensing process, you should contact the Pennsylvania State Board of Medicine (see link at the end of the article).

90 clock hours

It is important to remember that the license requires 90 clock hours, not 90 credit hours. Keep in mind that clock hours are similar to most continuing education credits (ie, 1 clock hour equals 1 CEU). On the other hand, 1 credit hour usually equals around 15 clock hours.

Talk to your school as soon as possible

For some of you, the coursework you completed to earn your master’s degree may actually cover everything. I found this possibility to be more thoughtful for people who have a degree in Applied Behavior Analysis or with a concentration in Autism, as many of those courses are similar to the content areas required for the license. However, without contacting your university, it is unlikely that you will know if you fall into this scenario right away. Also, even if you have a master’s degree in a related field, your college is a deciding factor in whether your coursework will count toward the 90-hour requirement. Fortunately, over the past year with the increase in license applications, it is very likely that colleges and universities are becoming more aware of the course requirements for licensing. This means that your university may already have a plan in place for how to match your courses with the requirements set by the licensing board.

One of the first things you should do is contact a university representative in your respective department to see if they already have something in the works. If they don’t, hopefully you can get them to start the review process as soon as possible. You may find it best to work with them through the process, such as reviewing each course you’ve taken and relaying your ideas about what content area the course would fit into. As well as making you think about where you may have some shortfalls so you can plan accordingly, it can make them a little more willing to complete all your paperwork in a timely manner.

Use the free coursework

If you are unable to complete the 90 hours through your master’s program, you have several options to meet that requirement. The Bureau of Autism Services (BAS) offers free online courses and trainings that will cover every hour you need. The online registration process is quite simple and you can easily navigate through the course catalogs, which are divided into 8 content areas. In addition to the courses being completely free, once you pass the course, you can print your certificate directly from your home or office.

Talk to your agency

If you work for an agency, you may have already taken BAS-approved training. I would advise you speak with your training coordinator to see if any courses have gone through the approval process. If they have, be sure to get a certificate, as you will need to include a copy with your application. If they haven’t, you might want to encourage them to look into it. In my opinion, it’s a great way to make the agency a little more competitive, with minimal effort.

Alternative Coursework

For Board Certified Behavior Analysts, the licensing board accepts continuing education credits from the Behavior Analyst Certification Board that can meet the 90-hour requirement. Remember, it is your responsibility to provide supporting documentation with your application. There are a number of great providers that offer these CEUs, but I would recommend the Florida Institute of Technology as they have an entire section of online trainings dedicated to the PA Behavior Specialist License. Pricing works out to around $11 per clock hour and all courses are taught by some of the most revered behavior analysts in the field.

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