Behavior Technician

A career as an ABA therapist is one of the most rewarding callings a compassionate individual can aspire to. One of the best pathways for making a positive impact on the lives of others is to become a registered behavior technician.

Often referred to as an RBT a registered behavior technician is essentially a paraprofessional who uses ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) treatment plans under the supervision and direction of board-certified ABAs therapists.

What Does A Registered Behavior Technician Do?

RBTs are directly responsible for executing the interventions and treatment strategies that are carefully developed by an applied behavior analyst. RBTs aren’t considered to be the patient’s primary counselor or diagnostic professional. They do not provide their own behavioral assessments or create their own treatment plans. This also means that the path to becoming an RBT is faster and can also be a great first step toward advancing one’s career into the ABA field.

A lot of RBTs will work one-on-one with a specific patient at any given time.

Their responsibilities can include following the treatment strategy guidelines:

  • Conducting the intensive teaching sessions
  • Facilitating interventions outlined in those plans
  • Observing client behavior
  • Data collection duties
  • Reporting data to BCBAs & other professionals

Most RBTs work very closely with BCBAs, playing a critical role in assisting them with developing increasingly effective behavioral routines. This might also include coming up with the materials used in training. They can also assist in interventions where more than one individual is needed to facilitate the process.

Who Can Become An RBT?

Many RBTs are also professionals in other disciplines, who want to advance their knowledge base of the treatment strategies used in ABA therapy. This means that an RBT credential might also be earned by:

  • Hospital & clinical staff
  • Medical administrators
  • Nursing supervisors
  • Special needs professionals
  • Home healthcare assistants
  • Case managers
  • Emergency response team members
  • Hospice staff
  • Substitute teachers
  • Daycare staff
  • Early Childhood Educators

What Are The Requirements To Become An RBT?

There are several key requirements an individual must meet before training to become an RBT.

  • At least 18 years old
  • Able to pass a criminal background check

Assuming you meet the eligibility requirements, you will also need to dedicate at least 40 hours of training to learn how to become a registered behavior technician. At the end of the training, you will also need to pass an assessment as well as a final exam.

It’s worth noting that the 40 hours of training is spread out over the course of several weeks or months. This is to make it easier for professionals in other disciplines to earn an RBT credential without having to sacrifice their current profession.

The Steps In RBT Training & Certification

There are several steps in the training and certification process to become an RBT.

Step One: Complete The 40 Hour RBT Training Course

The 40-hour course of training is administered by a BCBA or BCaBA. It includes a minimum of three hours of intensive training in ethics and professional conduct. Though this phase of the training can be performed in-person or online. It can be lecture-based or experiential.

Step Two: Apply For RBT Certification

Upon completion of the 40-hour training, you’ll then need to submit your application for your RBT certification.

Step Three: A Professional Assessment Is Performed

Within 90 days of submitting your RBT application, you will undergo an RBT Competency Assessment. This calls for direct observation of competencies based on the tasks described on the RBT Task List. It is overseen by a BCBA evaluator, and might also include a role-playing session.

Step Four: Pass The RBT Exam

The test to become an RBT typically includes 75 multiple-choice questions which are administered via a computer-based testing platform. The topics it covers include:

  • Assessment
  • Behavior Reduction
  • Documentation and Reporting
  • Measurement
  • Professional Conduct and Scope of Practice
  • Skill Acquisition

What Is The Cost To Become An RBT?

The cost to earn an RBT credential is often less than $100. It typically includes an application fee to the BACB is only $50, with a $45 fee for taking the required RBT exam. Though the cost and application fees can vary.

Maintain RBT Supervision Requirements

Another critical component of becoming an RBT includes maintaining your credential. This entails consistently performing work under the supervision of a board-certified behavior analyst while applying ABA therapeutic techniques.

The RBT requirements state you need to be supervised at least 5% of the time you are providing ABA services in a given month. It must also include a minimum of two, face-to-face contacts each month, during which the supervisor observes you performing RBT duties and applying ABA services. Though this supervision can also be provided via web cameras and videoconferencing if face-to-face supervision isn’t possible.

This is essentially another version of on-the-job training that expands on the concepts covered in the 40-hour coursework. The goal is to enhance your skills at things like:

  • Data collection procedures
  • Implementing skill acquisition
  • Behavior reduction interventions
  • Common procedures & principles of behavior analysis

Do I Need A State License to Practice as an RBT?

Most states do not have regulation or licensing requirements for RBTs. Though there are a few states that require you to report your certification requirements to practice as an RBT. They are:

  • Washington
  • Nevada
  • Oregon
  • Louisiana

Every year the BACB strives to enhance national standards in applied behavior analysis, which leads to an increasing number of states considering new legislation for ABA licensing. In time this could lead to more and more states adopting RBT certification requirements as well.

As regulations change you should always check with the appropriate state licensing board, which is typically the Board of Behavior Analysts or Board of Psychological Examiners, to learn more about any necessary requirement for practicing as an RBT.

RBT Benefits For Employment

Though even in states that don’t have licensing and regulation requirements an RBT certification is recognized as a respected professional credential and supervisory requirements are still in play. An RBT certification is also seen by many employers as a strong positive mark vetting an applicant to become a registered behavior technician.