What is a Registered Behavior Technician (RBT)?
The Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) is one of the credentials offered by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board. The RBT credential was designed for paraprofessionals who execute interventions for promoting socially acceptable behaviors. RBTs are taught the basics of applied behavior analysis (ABA) to support developmentally disabled individuals. Their work must be supervised by a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). Rather than designing and assessing program plans, RBTs introduce the chosen behavioral interventions in clients’ home or school life. They assist behavior analysts with:
- conducting behavior reduction
- nurturing social skills
- creating session notes
- collecting progress data
- training clients’ caregivers
RBTs follow the BCBA’s therapeutic protocols for positively reinforcing desirable actions for clients’ skill improvement.
Kinds of Jobs Held by Registered Behavior Technicians
Virtually anyone working with special needs children or adults can benefit from practicing as a Registered Behavior Tech under a BCBA’s watchful eye. Although ABA programs are frequently associated with Autism Spectrum Disorder, these behavioral tactics are effective with several disabilities, including:
- Down syndrome
- cerebral palsy
- emotional disturbances
The National Autism Network even reports that ABA has been adapted for treating drug and gambling addictions. Established by Ivar Lovaas and Robert Koegel in the 1970s, ABA has a 90 percent success rate! The RBT credential often required by employers working with people displaying problematic behaviors. It’s also useful for parents and guardians of developmentally challenged children.
In educational settings, RBTs could function as:
- general or special education teachers
- childcare administrators
- reading specialists
- school psychologists
- speech-language pathologists
These paraprofessionals will work with ABA therapists to coordinate the delivery of behavior analysis services for youth from birth to age 21. Some RBTs are employed in residential group homes as:
- direct support professionals
- case managers
Health Care Facilities
Health care facilities might also prefer hiring professionals with their RBT certification including:
- clinical social workers
- pediatric nurses
- emergency medical technicians
- home health aides
- mental health counselors
- psychiatric aides
Joining the RBT Registry certifies your abilities for aiding the applied behavior analysis plan in diverse settings with sound judgment.
Salary Potential for RBTs
According to PayScale, Registered Behavior Technicians report a median yearly salary of $30,927, or $15.68 per hour. Average total pay for RBTs ranges from $24,624 to $45,155 with bonuses. Entry-level RBTs make considerably less than behavior analysts who snag $60,175 on average.
However, it’s important to remember that RBTs can hold multiple paraprofessional roles. RBTs who work as school nurses foremost make a median wage of $47,804 yearly. Yet those employed as speech therapists and occupational therapists bring home average salaries of $78,210 and $83,730 respectively. Even some hospital administrators are on the RBT Registry with their mean annual wage of $109,370.
Registered Behavior Technician Hiring Outlook
Reports from Burning Glass Technologies display that U.S. job creation in applied behavior analysis nearly tripled from 1,414 openings in 2012 to 3,083 openings in 2014. The highest employment of BCBAs work in:
- New Jersey
RBTs can work in various sectors seeing faster-than-average growth though. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that education jobs will blossom by 8 percent for 697,000 total openings by 2024. For the same time frame, health care positions will skyrocket by 19 percent for nearly 2.4 million new postings. RBTs in the social assistance sector, including school counselors, will find 10 percent job growth for 257,700 openings through 2024.
Steps to Becoming a Registered Behavior Technician
Once you’ve made the decision to pursue RBT certification, you will need to access the RBT Handbook from the BACB. In the RBT Handbook, you’ll find information about the RBT certification exam including:
- eligibility requirements
- how to prepare for the exam
- policies and rules
- next steps once you have passed the examination
1. Meet the Registered Behavior Technician Requirements
Requirements for becoming an RBT via the Behavior Analyst Certification Board are actually quite minimal. Prospective applicants simply must have a high school diploma and passed their 18th birthday and a criminal background check. Interested adults get the ball rolling by signing up for RBT training classes of 40+ hours. Several colleges offer in-person RBT training and RBT programs online including:
- University of South Florida
- University of Kansas
- California State University-Los Angeles
- University of Michigan-Dearborn
These schools have RBT certification training in their continuing education divisions.
Online training programs are typically self-paced but they should not exceed 180 days start to finish. Private companies like the Verbal Behavior Institute and Child Enrichment Center also offer RBT training. The best RBT training programs will incorporate RBT coursework from the RBT Task List on topics like:
- positive reinforcement
- ABA assessment
- professional ethics
Once you have completed RBT training, you will need to complete the Initial RBT Competency Assessment. The RBT Competency Assessment must be:
- overseen by a qualified BACB certificant who meets the supervision requirements
- completed after you’ve completed RBT training
- completed no sooner than 90 days before submitting payment for your RBT certification
2. Applying to Become an RBT
You will need to create and log into your BACB account in order to apply for RBT certification. You’ll upload your required documents that include:
- Certificate of Completion for the RBT 40 clock hour training
- completed RBT Initial Competency Assessment
- copy of transcript or diploma to verify completion of a high school diploma or equivalent
RBT candidates must find an RBT Supervisor or RBT Requirements Coordinator to complete their portion of the application. RBTs can use the certificant registry allows you to find viable contacts online by searching by:
- zip code
- last name
The RBT Requirements Coordinator or RBT Supervision will:
- confirm that the applicant is over the age of 18
- confirm that you passed your criminal background check and abuse registry within the past 180 days
- confirm their willingness to provide you with ongoing professional supervision
You will receive a decision within a few weeks whether your application is approved or not approved.
3. The RBT Exam
If your application is approved, the next step is to schedule the RBT exam. Individuals can take this 85-question, 90-minute RBT exam only in English at 400 Pearson VUE centers globally. The RBT certification exam covers six content areas from the RBT Task List including:
- Skill Acquisition
- Behavior Reduction
- Documentation and Reporting
- Professional Conduct and Scope of Practice
You might be wondering how much the RBT certification cost? The RBT test cost is comprised of two parts. Application fees currently cost $50 and the RBT exam cost is $45. If you fail the entry-level exam, retakes are permitted within one year. Successful test-takers will maintain RBT credentials with a 12-task direct observation annually.
What can you do with an RBT certification?
Even if you’re already certified in other fields like teaching, the additional RBT acronym after your name could prove invaluable. RBTs can improve their self-confidence using ABA principles to support clients with behavioral issues. Added skill development with function-based ABA interventions can help advance your career. Clients and parents will be better assured of your qualifications for handling the complexities of autism and other disabilities.
Taking the time to complete the 40-hour RBT training proves your determination and passion to potential employers for marketability. Becoming an RBT automatically comes with beneficial BCBA mentorship and continuing education credits. The RBT credential is also much more cost-effective than the $230 BCBA exam and its requisite master’s degree.
Related Resource: Top 25 Best Applied Behavior Analysis Programs
Getting the RBT credential is a big step for learning the behavior analytic theories applied for treating developmental delays. However, it won’t provide autonomy. RBTs must meet face-to-face at least twice monthly with Board Certified Behavior Analysts while delivering ABA services. Having a responsible certificant with BCBA licensing will ensure compliance with professional protocols, especially client confidentiality.
The RBT is an ideal extra for other educational, health, and social services staff who only dabble in ABA with certain challenged pupils or patients. If you seek more independence in behavior analysis, your best bet is pursuing an undergrad or master’s degree specifically for BCBA certification.
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