Do you have a passion for helping others? Do you love to work with children? Has your life been touched by someone with autism spectrum disorder, and do you want to reach out to others with ASD?
These are just some of the affirmative questions that a lot of aspiring certified autism specialists ask themselves. Though you might be wondering what they are and how you can become a certified autism specialist.
There is a wide variety of licensed professionals who work directly with children and adults with autism spectrum disorder. This is an increasingly high-demand field as autism diagnosis rates continue to increase, which means that more than ever before need high-quality services and support related to ASD.
Before embarking on the journey to becoming a certified autism specialist, it helps to first understand what autism is as well as what it isn’t. This helps to frame what you can expect when interacting with patients who have ASD.
Autism spectrum disorder is a lifelong developmental disability. There is no “Cure” for ASD. Though there are therapeutic techniques and learning approaches that can be provided to people with ASD at every level of their lives.
This also means that there is a need for certified autism specialists in a wide range of vocations including:
- School psychologists
- Special education teachers
- Speech-language pathologist
- Occupational therapist
- Educational administrator
- Clinical social worker
- Physical therapist
- Occupational therapist
- Behavior specialist
Though this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the long list of careers that can be enhanced by becoming a certified autism specialist.
What Sets Certified Autism Specialists Apart?
Becoming an autism certified specialist means that you hold the industry-leading Autism Certificate (AC) or Certified Autism Specialist (CAS) credential and follow through with maintaining active credentials over time. Both of these credentials are offered through the IBCCES, and both require a similar number of training hours.
However, a CAS does require more formal education and experience. This also means that as a certified autism specialist, you will have a broader scope of skills and opportunities. A CAS might also be easier to add to certain careers that already include similar education and experience.
By becoming well-versed in the facets of autism spectrum disorder, you will be demonstrating a commitment to promoting a higher standard of care for your patients, clients, students, and others with ASD. This also extends to their families who support them throughout their lives.
If you are committed to developing a rewarding career from working with people with ASD, then you’re the perfect candidate for the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards.
Becoming a CAS means investing your focus in a multi-disciplinary, comprehensive training program, which ultimately leads to an internationally recognized credential. This opens the door to enhancing a wide range of other careers that focus on helping individuals with ASD to live their best lives.
How Much Do Autism Specialists Earn?
At this time, there isn’t a lot of official data from government sources like the Bureau of Labor Statistics on what autism specialists earn. Unfortunately, institutions like these simply haven’t caught up yet to many new professions in the realm of autism spectrum support. Instead, they tend to lump them in with much broader fields like psychology.
Though, when you sample online job boards, the national average salary for an autism specialist is around $52,600. This translates to roughly $28 to $30 per hour.
How Do I Become a Certified Autism Specialist?
The certified autism specialist is designated for professionals who provide support and/or services to individuals with autism spectrum disorder. It tends to be an excellent way to enhance your resume and broaden your field.
Educational Requirements For A CAS
To start on the journey to becoming a CAS you first need a qualifying bachelor’s or higher degree. The ideal candidate will have at least ten years of experience or hold a master’s degree and at least two years of experience. You should note that the Experience requirements must relate to either directly working with or supporting individuals with autism. This includes career fields such as:
- Educational psychology
- Special education
- Human development
- Early childhood education
- Speech/language pathology
- Occupational therapy
- Physical therapy
- Social work
If you already have a bachelor’s degree and/or experience in one of these fields, you should consider seeking out a related master’s degree program.
CE Specialty Training
After meeting the education and experience requirements for the certified autism specialist designation, you will then need to complete at least 14 CE hours of training. This might include a series of online modules that are directly offered through the IBCCES. Otherwise, you will need to provide proof to the IBCCES that you’ve earned at least 14 hours of hours of autism-related CE training within the last two years.
This might include things like attending national conferences or taking university or professional courses. In these cases, one hour is equivalent to one CE Unit or 60 minutes of instruction. If you aren’t sure what activities qualify, you can always contact IBCCES to learn about ASHA and AOTA-approved courses.
Submit Your Application To The IBCCES
After satisfying the education and CE requirements, the next step in the process of becoming a CE involves paying a $495 certification fee, before submitting your application to the IBCCES. This includes submitting all your applicable credentials. You will then be given a set amount of time to prepare to take the Autism Competency Exam.
Taking The Autism Competency Exam
The online certification exam will have roughly 60 questions and you must complete the entire exam in 90 minutes or less. Your CAS is based on the IBCCES’ Areas of Autism Competency. This includes:
To be able to recognize the signs and symptoms of ASD, and how to diagnose it. As well as treatment strategies commonly used to treat those with autism.
To demonstrate an understanding of behavior modification, and the finer points of cognitive behavior therapy, as well as crisis interventions.
Program Development Competency
Includes the ability to develop an Individual Education Plan (IEP), specific interventions, and strategies used to treat those with ASD.
Early Childhood Identification Competency
Focuses on early identification strategies, with discernable markers, and inclusive education for preschool learners.
Parent Communication Competency
Skills to be able to connect with parents and guide their experience, empathy, awareness, and social skills.
Targets an understanding of the existence of comorbidities among those with ASD, which includes an overview of anxiety and ADHD.
You’ll access the exam once you submit your application, and they typically notify you of the results via email within 24 hours of completing the exam. You must earn an 80% or higher to pass the exam.