RBT certification: Definitive guide to becoming a certified RBT

April 30, 2022

A Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) is a professional who works directly with families and is best suited to meet the special requirements and obstacles they may face with children on the autistic spectrum. Behavior technicians assist all children on the spectrum, regardless of the challenges they face. 

To assist children, RBTs are taught the fundamentals of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy, but they have to work under the oversight of a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). 

Instead of devising and evaluating program plans, RBTs implement behavioral interventions in the children’s home, clinic, or school. They will help analysts with behavior modification, skill acquisition development, such as social skill development, session notes, progress data collection, and caregiver training. RBTs follow the BCBA's care procedures for positively reinforcing activities for a child’s skill growth and maladaptive behavior reduction.

What is a behavior technician for autism?

A behavior technician is a professional who works directly with families and is best suited to meet the special requirements and obstacles they may face with children on the autistic spectrum. Behavior technicians assist all children on the spectrum, regardless of the challenges they face. 

As an entry-level position, behavior technicians frequently undertake special therapist training to obtain more skill sets, often becoming a Board-Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA). 

In addition, a Registered Behavior Technician can teach behavior technicians the skills they have learned while improving the education of their team to ensure the child's behavior program is successful. In comparison to a behavior technician, the additional title earns a higher compensation to reflect their increased education and expertise.

5 characteristics of a successful therapist

  1. Compassion/empathy: Behavioral technicians and RBTS have the ability to understand a child’s challenges and frustrations. Otherwise, it can be difficult to teach and guide their progress in a warm, compassionate, and professional manner. 
  2. Patience: A RBT or behavioral technician is able to listen and observe patiently to understand the child’s needs and responses to different aspects of the therapy.
  3. Adaptability: A successful technician can adapt to different environments, child behaviors, and other dynamics to best serve the needs of the child.
  4. Calmness under pressure: Children may engage in maladaptive behaviors that could be severe, therefore RBTs or behavior technicians are able to remain calm and objective.
  5. Dedication and perseverance: Devotion to the work of improving the quality of life for the child and their family is the greatest reward for those who are well-suited for this career.

Typical responsibilities and roles of therapists

In many healthcare situations, technicians are in charge of the majority of direct social interactions with children as well as the delivery of various therapies as developed by the BCBA. 

Also, registered therapists must be able to work with children according to the three basic levels of autism severity.

  • Technicians must interact with children of different origins and ages along with their close family members regularly. Thus, good social skills and communication abilities are a must.
  • Experienced RBTs are often responsible for executing therapies and other techniques independently, even though they do not construct or prescribe any form of care plan. 

Other roles include:

  • Assisting in social and life skill development
  • Training for employment
  • Family guidance
  • Behavior reduction
  • Reporting and documentation

How to become a certified therapist

To become an RBT, you must meet the below Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) requirements:

  • Be at least 18 years old.
  • Possess a high school diploma or GED equivalent to a high school diploma.
  • Complete a background check.
  • Finish the necessary 40-hour training.
  • Complete the preliminary competency assessment.
  • Be qualified to take the board certification exam after the completion of your coursework. 
  • Pass the RBT exam.

The RBT task list

The Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) must certify all individuals that practice ABA therapy. BCBAs and BCBA-Ds create the care plans and RBTs implement them.

These therapists must be competent in the standards listed on the RBT’s Task List, as specified by the BACB. 

These are:

  1. Measurement
  2. Assessment
  3. Skill acquisition
  4. Behavior reduction
  5. Documentation and reporting
  6. Professional conduct and scope of practice

The BACB acknowledges that this RBT Task List only outlines core components and an RBT supervisor may specify other required competency areas based on organizational or individual child needs. 

How to take the RBT exam

The 40-hour training provides all the information required to understand the job responsibilities as well as how to obtain supervision and administer basic therapy to children.  The BCBA will provide complete and specific training after successful completion of the examination.

Additionally, the BACB will provide information on the certification process. This involves collecting all the required materials, including: 

  • A copy of your high school diploma, GED, or college degree.
  • Certification that you completed the initial training and passed your background check.

Required application fees: 

  • A certification application processing fee of $50, paid to the BACB.
  • An exam appointment fee of $45, paid to the exam company, Pearson VUE.

After passing the exam, the BACB will email a digital certificate letter within a week. The letter will also include an expiration date to renew the certification.

RBT jobs

Once you become an RBT, you are eligible for jobs immediately after passing the board certification exam. However, you need to keep your certification current by being under the supervision of a BCBA, following established ethical criteria, and renewing the certification every year. 

Typically, the required 40-hour training course can be found at:

  • A local university or college: ABA therapy approaches, including RBT training, are taught in a variety of state, private, and technical schools. This is most likely offered as a certification program.

  • A training company: Several firms provide accredited live or online courses that you can do at your leisure. Working professionals in fields such as education or caregiving who wish to gain extra certifications to assist people on the autism spectrum might choose this program.

Your current employer: If you work in a special education school, a caregiving company that serves people with autism, or another relevant environment, you may be able to seek your employer for assistance in obtaining extra education. Many employers provide educational assistance as part of their employee benefits packages.

Conclusion

Despite various constraints on behavior technician’s professional scope and freedom, it can be a rewarding career that has a direct impact on children's lives. For many people, being an RBT is a terrific way to learn about applied psychology while qualifying for specific work opportunities throughout the country. 

Songbird Therapy is a technology-enabled provider setting a higher standard for children’s autism care. With a deeply passionate team and innovative technology, we’re building a world where every child can access world-class care at home, uniquely tailored to them. If you are interested in joining the team as a RBT, please reach out to us to apply.

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