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Certification Requirements and Applications

Information about applied behaviorist certification through ABS (CAAB and ACAAB) including the certification program requirements and applications

Important notice: All applications must be submitted using the January 2013 application materials (see related content below). To properly complete the pdf forms please use the latest version of Acrobat Reader.

What is Certification?

The Animal Behavior Society (ABS) is the leading professional organization in North America for the study of animal behavior. The Society recognizes that animal-oriented groups or agencies, businesses, and the general public seek professional advice about the animal behavior in general or about behavioral problems of animals. Certification is the means by which the ABS demonstrates to the public that certain individuals meet the minimum standards of education, experience and ethics required of a professional applied animal behaviorist as set forth by the Society.

Animal behaviorists can be educated in a variety of disciplines, including psychology biology, zoology or animal science. A professional applied animal behaviorist has demonstrated expertise in the principles of animal behavior, in the research methods of animal behavior, in the application of animal behavior principles to applied behavior problems and in the dissemination of knowledge about animal behavior through teaching and research.

Certification constitutes recognition by the Animal Behavior Society that, to its best knowledge, the certificant meets the educational, experiental and ethical standards required by the Society for professional applied animal behaviorists. Certification does not constitute a guarantee that the applicant meets a specific standard of competence or possesses specific knowledge.

Who should be Certified?

Certification is beneficial to anyone who consults with the public or with other professionals about the applications of animal behavior knowledge or about specific behavioral problems of animals.

Examples are persons working in a clinical animal behavior setting (i.e., involving the identification and resolution of animal behavior problems), and those consulting with agricultural interests, zoos, research institutions or governmental agencies about the behavior or behavior problems of wild or domestic animals. By consulting with a certified professional applied animal behaviorist, the client can be assured of the qualifications of the consultant.

What are the Levels of Professional Certification

There are two levels of certification: Associate Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist and Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist. The Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist category has more rigorous educational and experiential requirements. Requirements for both are listed below.


What are the Requirements for Certification?

Associate Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (ACAAB)
The successful applicant must meet requirements of education, experience and endorsement to become certified as an Associate Applied Animal Behaviorist. Educational requirements include a Master's Degree from an accredited college or university in a biological or behavioral science with an emphasis in animal behavior. The degree should include a research based thesis. Undergraduate and/or graduate coursework must include 30 semester credits in behavioral science courses including 9 semester credits in ethology, animal behavior and/or comparative psychology and 9 semester credits in animal learning, conditioning and or animal psychology (e.g., experimental psychology).
Experiential requirements include a minimum of two years of professional experience in applied animal behavior. The applicant must demonstrate the ability to perform independently and professionally in applied animal behavior. Examples include performing independent studies, data analysis, formulation and testing of hypotheses and professional writing. Also required is evidence of significant experience working interactively with a particular species (such as as a researcher, research assistant, or intern working with a certified applied animal behaviorist) prior to working independently with the species in a clinical animal behavior setting.
Applicants must have attended and presented a contributed talk or poster at an ABS annual meeting prior to applying for certification. 
Endorsement requirements include the provision of a minimum of three letters of recommendation, one from a Certified ABS member and one from a regular ABS member affirming the applicant's professional experience in the areas listed above. Only two of these letters may come from the same institution.
Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (CAAB)
Educational and experiential requirements include a doctoral degree from an accredited college or university in a biological or behavioral science with an emphasis on animal behavior, including five years of professional experience, or a doctorate from an accredited college or university in veterinary medicine plus two years in a university-approved residency in animal behavior and three additional years of professional experience in applied animal behavior. Any of these degrees must include the same coursework requirements as the Associate Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist. The successful applicant must also demonstrate a thorough knowledge of the literature, scientific principles and principles of animal behavior, demonstrate original contributions or original interpretations of animal behavior information and show evidence of significant experience working interactively with a particular species as a researcher, research assistant or intern with a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist prior to working independently with the species in a clinical animal behavior setting.
Applicants must have attended and presented a contributed talk or poster at an ABS annual meeting prior to applying for certification.  

Endorsement requirements are identical to those of the Associate Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist. Exceptions to any of the above requirements will be considered by the Board of Professional Certification upon receipt of a written statement explaining why and how the intent of the educational and experiential requirements are satisfied.
 
Liability Insurance.
All applicants are required to show proof of professional liability insurance listing the Animal Behavior Society as an additional insured party. Certified Applied Animal Behaviorists are required to maintain liability insurance throughout their certification period. 

Certification is valid for five years but must be renewed annually through proof of liability insurance and remaining an ABS member in good standing. 



How much does it cost to become Certified?

Certification application fee is $100.00 (non-refundable).  

CAAB/ACAAB dues is $100.  Dues are paid once every 5 years at time of acceptance (initial and recertification).

 

What do I do if I Wish to Become Certified?

Certification is granted by the Board of Professional Certification (BPC) of the ABS. This body consists of six members appointed by the President of the Animal Behavior Society who are themselves certified and are members in good standing of the ABS. The Board meets at least annually to review and take action on applications. Submitted applications must include a completed application form, degree transcripts, a current resume, three reference letters and the appropriate fee.

Recertification requires completion of a recertification application, current resume, the names of three references, and recertification fee. Degree transcripts are not required. If an initial application for certification is denied by the BPC, an applicant may reapply. (The first re-application does not require a fee, the second re-application and subsequent ones require either $100 or $200). Re-applications may be based on completing deficiencies specified by the BPC or on exceptions deemed appropriate by the applicant.

Those interested in becoming certified should submit an application using the appropriate pdf file below.

Crista Coppola PhD, Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist
Chair, Board of Professional Certification 
E-mail:caab@animalbehaviorsociety.org


© Animal Behavior Society

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