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Registered Behavior Technician (RBT)

The Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) is one of the credentials extended by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board to paraprofessionals who execute interventions for promoting socially acceptable behaviors. RBTs are taught the basics of applied behavior analysis to support developmentally disabled individuals, but they must function under the supervision of 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’ll merely assist analysts with conducting behavior reduction, nurturing social skills, creating session notes, collecting progress data, and training clients’ caregivers. Registered Behavior Technicians 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 Technician under a BCBA’s watchful eye. Although ABA programs are frequently associated with Autism, these behavioral tactics are effective with several disabilities, including Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, emotional disturbances, and more. 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! Not only is the Registered Behavior Technician credential often required by employers working with people displaying problematic behaviors, but 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, occupational therapists, school psychologists, or speech-language pathologists. These paraprofessionals will work with ABA therapists to coordinate the delivery of skill acquisition plans for youth from birth to age 21. Some Registered Behavior Technicians are employed in residential group homes as special needs staff, nurses, case managers, and administrators. Health care facilities might also prefer hiring clinical social workers, pediatric nurses, emergency medical technicians, home health aides, mental health counselors, and psychiatric aides with RBT credentialing. Joining the RBT Registry certifies your abilities for aiding the applied behavior analysis plan in diverse settings with sound judgment.

Salary Potential for Registered Behavior Technicians

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 Registered Behavior Technicians 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. Registered Behavior Technicians 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. California, Massachusetts, and New Jersey currently have the highest employment of BCBAs. Registered Behavior Technicians 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

Requirements for becoming an RBT via the Behavior Analyst Certification Board are actually quite minimal. Prospective applicants simply must be high school graduates who’ve passed their 18th birthday and a criminal background check. Interested adults get the ball rolling by signing up for Registered Behavior Technician training classes of 40+ hours. Several colleges, including the University of South Florida, University of Kansas, California State University-Los Angeles, and University of Michigan-Dearborn, have RBT training in their continuing education divisions. Private companies like the Verbal Behavior Institute and Child Enrichment Center are also available. Most programs will incorporate around 10 on-campus or online modules on topics like behavior reduction, positive reinforcement, ABA assessment, and professional ethics within 180 days.


After earning the Certificate of Completion, RBT candidates must find BCBA supervisors to sponsor them. The certificant registry allows you to search by zip code, state/province, country, and last name for sorting through viable contacts nearby. They’ll assess whether you pass the Registered Behavior Technician Competency Assessment with skills like behavioral reporting. Testing doesn’t finish there because sitting for the RBT exam is next. Individuals can take this 85-question, 90-minute exam only in English at 400 Pearson VUE centers globally. Application fees currently cost $50 and the exam appointment itself charges $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.

Benefits of Becoming a Registered Behavior Technician

Even if you’re already certified in other fields like teaching, the additional RBT acronym after your name could prove invaluable. Registered Behavior Technicians 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 a Registered Behavior Technician 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.

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Getting the Registered Behavior Technician 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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