What is an RBT?

What If you are interested in the world of applied behavior analysis (ABA), you’ve likely heard of an RBT. You might wonder what does RBT stand for? An RBT is a registered behavior technician (RBT). What is a registered behavior technician (RBT)? The RBT definition according to the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) is a type of paraprofessional who works under the supervision of board certified behavior analysts or as part of a clinical team. RBTs have varying job responsibilities depending on the nature of their employment and previous experience. They often perform many practical behavior analysis services necessary to help clients achieve their behavior modification goals.

RBT certification is one of many different certifications offered through the BACB. Other certifications include:

Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA): This is a bachelor’s degree level certification. They provide ABA services under the supervision of a BCBA.

Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA): This is a master’s level certification. They can provide ABA services to their clients without the oversight of another therapist.

There is a healthy supply of job opportunities for registered behavior technicians. The career can also serve as a stepping stone or trial for people considering a degree in applied behavior analysis or another field of applied psychology.

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

What Does an RBT Do? Typical Role and Responsibilities of a Registered Behavior Technician

In many clinical environments, technicians handle most of the direct social interactions with clients and conduct various therapies as directed by a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). Technicians deal with patients of all backgrounds and ages, as well as their close family members. RBTs must have strong social skills and ability to communicate. While they don’t design or prescribe any kind of treatment plan, experienced RBTs are often responsible for executing therapies and other techniques independently. They are expected to learn and understand the various practices used in their clinic.

See Also: Understanding the Difference between an ABA Therapist and a BCBA

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
  • 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

What is an RBT therapist and what does it take to earn the credential? Becoming a registered behavior technician is an accessible goal compared to many other jobs related to behavior modification and applied behavior analysis. According to the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB), to successfully apply for RBT certification, applicants need to:

  • be at least 18 years old
  • have a high school diploma or recognized equivalent
  • undergo a background check and an abuse registry check
  • complete 40 hours of qualified training
  • complete the official competency assessment
  • earn a passing grade on the RBT exam

All RBTs must pass an exam. The exam consists of 85 multiple choice questions. Candidates have just 90 minutes to complete the multiple-choice test. Content areas include:

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

You can have up to attempts to pass the exam in a 12-month period. Exam takers will find out their results as soon as they complete the exam.

Once certified, a registered behavior technician is expected to follow:

  • the established code of ethics
  • ongoing BCBA supervision requirements
  • self-reporting requirements

Certifications must be renewed annually by completing a renewal application and competency assessment.

What is an RBT Training Program?

While you won’t need an associate degree or bachelor’s degree to become an RBT, you will need training. RBT candidates with a high school diploma must complete 40 clock hours of training. This training must be overseen by a qualified BACB certificant and must be completed before applying for the exam.

There are a few ways to complete this training. These include:

  • Within your own agency
  • Through a training company
  • By completing university coursework

If you are already working for an agency that provides ABA therapy services, you might be able to complete an in-house training program. Many agencies conduct their own training which is tailored to their program and clients.

You could also complete training through an approved training provider. There are several companies that offer training in-person or in a virtual format. Some online programs are self-paced, allowing you to complete your training when it’s convenient. These programs charge a fee, so you will need to make sure the cost fits in your budget.

Some colleges and universities offer the training program. Schools like Florida Tech and Moorpark College offer the training in a flexible online format. If you are considering going back to school to complete a degree in an ABA therapy related field, it might make sense for you to get your RBT training at a university. This can give you a feel for the school and the type of programs they offer.

Career Building and Personal Enrichment

Psychiatric technicians and other support staff members are a valuable and necessary component in:

  • specialized clinics
  • general hospitals
  • other healthcare environments

Many people enjoy a stable and rewarding career as a technician following certification. Others use it as an opportunity for personal or professional enrichment. Some parents of children with autism spectrum disorder 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 applied 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 RBTs, 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.