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What is an RBT?

A registered behavior technician (RBT) is a type of paraprofessional who works under the supervision of a certified behavior analyst or as part of a clinical team. Technicians have varying job responsibilities depending on the nature of their employment and previous experience. They often perform many of the practical and applied techniques necessary to help clients achieve their behavior modification goals. There is a healthy supply of job opportunities for RBTs and the career can also serve as a stepping stone or trial for people considering a degree in behavior analysis or another field of applied psychology.

Related resource: 40 Best Applied Behavior Analysis Graduate Certificate Online Programs

Typical Role and Responsibilities

In many clinical environments, technicians handle most of the direct social interactions with clients and conduct various therapies as directed by a behavior analyst. Technicians deal with patients of all backgrounds and ages, as well as their close family members, so strong social skills and ability to communicate are a daily necessity. While they don’t design or prescribe any kind of treatment plan, experienced RBTs are often responsible for executing therapies and other techniques independently. This means they are expected to eventually learn and understand the various practices used in their clinic as they gain experience.

Professional Restrictions and Supervision

Even though behavior technicians enjoy a degree of autonomy in their daily responsibilities, they do work under strict professional restrictions. Only certified behavior analysts are qualified to diagnose conditions, prescribe treatment and design individualized therapy for clients. RBTs can only perform therapeutic techniques that have been approved and designed by a qualified professional.

Job Requirements and Qualifications

Becoming a registered behavior technician is an accessible goal compared to many other jobs related to behavior modification and analysis. In order to successfully apply for certification, applicants need to be at least 18 years old and have a high school diploma or recognized equivalent. They also need to undergo a background check, complete the official competency assessment and earn a passing grade on the RBT exam, according to the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BCBA). Once certified, technicians are expected to follow the established code of ethics as well as BCBA supervision and self-reporting requirements. Certifications also need to be renewed annually through completion of a renewal application and competency assessment.

Career Building and Personal Enrichment

Psychiatric technicians and other support staff members are a valuable and necessary component in specialized clinics, general hospitals, and other healthcare environments. Many people enjoy a stable and rewarding career as a technician following certification, while others use it as an opportunity for personal or professional enrichment. Some parents of children with autism or other behavior disorders pursue certification simply to become more proficient with helping their kids at home. Other applicants become technicians to see if they enjoy working in behavior analysis before investing in a degree to become a certified analyst.

Even though there are some limitations on the professional scope and independence of behavior technicians, it can still be a challenging and important job that has a direct impact on patients’ lives. For many people, becoming an RBT is a great opportunity to explore the field of applied psychology and qualify for specialized job opportunities across the country.