Professionals who work in the field of autism support can benefit by becoming a Certified Autism Specialist (CAS). Receiving this type of certification demonstrates to clients and colleagues a commitment to promoting a higher standard of care to the autism community. If you’re thinking about earning your Certified Autism Specialist certification, we have all the information you need to know to get you started.
What is a Certified Autism Specialist (CAS)?
The Certified Autism Specialist is a credential offered by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES) and is an internationally recognized credential. Certified Autism Specialists offer services and support for people who have some form of autism. These services are available in all sorts of environments such as:
- educational settings
- therapist offices
- non-profit organizations
The CAS certification recognizes your mastery of Autism training and your commitment to professional development. Completing this voluntary credential can enhance your professional reputation by showing employers that you strive to meet rigorous professional standards.
CAS Job Opportunities
Individuals in many different professions choose to receive their certification as a CAS including:
- special education teachers
- physical therapists
- speech/language pathologists
CAS professionals are in demand and are likely to be able to leverage their certification to boost their careers. Even substitute teachers can earn this certificate to open up job opportunities in special education classes.
Working with individuals with autism spectrum disorder could mean working at schools to help autistic children succeed academically. Some Certified Autism Specialists work in residential centers to help individuals become more independent.
If you’re serious about becoming a CAS, you can even use your certificate to work for autism organizations and charities. There are hundreds of organizations around the country that:
- work to help individuals with autism
- advocate for them
- educate communities about autism
Can CAS Certification Enhance Your Career?
Adding a specialty certificate to your resume is never a bad thing. Becoming a Certified Autism Specialist can enrich your credibility and reputation in the field. It also gives you recognition for your mastery of the area of autism. Obviously, this type of certificate can also increase your chances and opportunities for advancement in your career, with increased salaries.
Becoming a CAS helps create a better bond between you and your:
Those you are helping will have better confidence in your abilities and your commitment to helping them, since you’ve been accredited for that commitment. Parents will have better confidence in your ability to help their child.
Aside from the personal benefits, this type of specialty can also differentiate your business or school from others and improve possible grant qualifications. It can even reduce the chances of possible litigation in regard to your company or school.
Certified Autism Specialist Salary
The salary you’ll earn after completing your CAS certificate will depend on the current career path you’re already on. Becoming a Certified Autism Specialist will probably heighten your chances of an above-average pay rate for your job, although career advancement is more likely.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a special education teacher and a teacher who works with children with autism make around $60,000 each year. Someone like an occupational therapist makes around $80,000. Someone in these types of careers that choose to add a CAS credential to their resume can expect to make more than the average, and should be more eligible for future, higher positions.
The salary after receiving this type of certification will vary, but it will absolutely open more doors for advancement. Certified Autism Specialists can make up to $100,000 depending on which type of career they are in. Doctors and psychologists are on the higher end of the pay scale. Among other high-paid careers are therapists and psychologists who own their own practices and offices.
How to Become an Autism Specialist
You might be wondering how to become a Certified Autism Specialist. Becoming a CAS means that you are certified by an accredited organization for your competence and commitment to the field of autism. Certification requirements include:
A Master’s Degree-
Applicants will need to complete a master’s degree in one of these areas:
- special education
- educational psychology
- human development
- early childhood education
- speech/language pathology
- occupational therapy
- physical therapy
- social work
- a closely related field
No master’s degree? Th master’s degree requirement can be waived if you have a bachelor’s degree and over 10 years of experience.
Two Years of Experience-
You will need at least two years of verifiable experience working in a field that supports or treats individuals on the autism spectrum.
14 CE Hours-
CAS applicants need to have 14 hours of continuing education directly related to autism with the past two years. IBCCES University offers CEs that can be earned as part of the CAS application process.
Pass the Autism Competency Exam-
The CAS Autism Competency Exam is a 60 question, multiple choice exam. Candidates have 90 minutes to complete the exam. A passing score is 80%. Questions cover six competency areas including:
- Autism Overview
- Behavior Competency
- Program Development Competency
- Early Childhood Identification Competency
- Parent Communication Competency
- Comorbidities Competency
Once you have passed the exam, you will receive an official Certification Number and be added to the International Registry as a Certified Autism Specialist Holder. Employers can verify your credential number at ibcces.org.
Pay the Registry Fee-
Before taking the exam, you’ll need to pay a $495 Registry Fee. This fee includes:
- 14 CE hours of online training
- the cost to review your application
- and access to the CAS exam
- the CAS credential
In order to retain your certificate and specialty throughout the years, the certifying organization may require certain things of you. The International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards requires Certified Autism Specialists to renew their certification every 2 years. Requirements include:
- paying a renewal fee of $199
- 14 additional CEUs in closely related areas
- maintain active status as a CAS and remain in compliance with the Code of Ethics
Related Resource: Top 15 Best Applied Behavior Analysis Online Programs
Working in the various areas that help individuals with autism can be difficult, but extremely rewarding and worthwhile. It takes commitment, heart, and some serious kindness. We hope you take the information you found on this overview and get started on your certification to become a Certified Autism Specialist right away.
See the following resources to learn more about other autism certifications or ABA certification.