RBT task list: A definitive guide

June 4, 2022

The RBT task list, created by the BACB, serves as the basis for expectations of RBT’s job duties and knowledge of ABA. The task list is organized into the following primary areas, designating RBT responsibilities:

1. Measurement

  • Prepare data collection
  • Implement continuous and discontinuous measurement procedure
  • Establish a permanent product recording procedure
  • Enter data and update graphs
  • Describe behavior environment in observable terms

2. Assessment

  • Conduct preferences assessments
  • Assist with individualized assessment procedures such as curriculum-based developmental social skills
  • Help with functional assessment procedures

3. Skill acquisition

  • Identify the necessary components for a well-written skill acquisition plan
  • Prepare for sessions based on this skill acquisition plan
  • Use contingencies of reinforcement
  • Implement the following procedures:
    • Discrete trial teaching
    • Naturalistic teaching
    • Task analyzed chaining
    • Discrimination training
    • Stimulus control transfer
    • Prompt and prompt fading
    • The token economy

4. Behavior reduction

  • Identify essential components of a return behavior reduction plan
  • Describe standard functions of behavior
  • Implement:
    • Intervention based on a modification of antecedents like motivating operations and discriminative stimuli
    • Different reinforcement procedures
    • Extinction procedures
    • Emergency or crisis procedures according to protocol

5. Documentation and reporting

  • Communicate effectively with a supervisor 
  • Seek clinical direction from the supervisor 
  • Report factors that might affect the client 
  • Generate objective session notes for service verification 
  • Comply with applicable legal, regulatory, and workplace data collection 

6. Professional conduct and scope of practice

  • Describe the BACB's RBT supervision requirements 
  • Respond appropriately to the feedback
  • Maintain and improve performance based on feedback 
  • Communicate with shareholders 
  • Maintain professional boundaries 
  • Maintain client dignity 

The Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) is a professional in behavior analysis, trained to provide direct therapy to children with autism or other developmental delays. They work under a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) or Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA) 

The position entails many responsibilities that the RBT performs as part of their standard job description. The BACB's RBT task list covers a wide range of those duties, but it is the responsibility of administrators to determine which additional tasks may be required in addition to those standard job performance responsibilities.

A registered behavior technician needs to have compassion and empathy, patience and an ability to learn, adaptability, dedication, perseverance, and an ability to remain calm under pressure. 

What does a registered behavior technician do?

The RBT's job is to help with the planning, development, administration, and monitoring of behavioral support for students with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and other behavioral, social, and communication difficulties. An RBT is a part of a team of professionals who implement proactive behavioral, social, communicative, functional, and educational programs. 

This job position works under direct supervision to assist with the implementation of care plans and initiatives. These professionals generally oversee an RBT:

  • BCBA: Board-certified behavior analysts have completed a master's degree program in behavior analysis, successful completion of fieldwork hours, and passing of an examination.
  • BCaBA: Board certified assistant behavior analysts have completed a bachelor’s degree with coursework in behavior analysis, successful completion of fieldwork hours, and passing of an examination. 

While an RBT does not design the child’s care plans (unless given supervisor permission to help), they do play a significant role in their implementation as the direct support care staff.

How to become a behavioral technician

Anyone interested in becoming an ABA technician must first complete training and acquire certification. However, before a candidate may earn the credential of Registered Behavior Technician, they must meet strict eligibility conditions:

  • Age and education: Applicants should be 18 years old and possess a high school diploma or a GED. The average age of an employed behavior technician is 35. 
  • Background check: The candidate must pass a background check within six months before assessment. 
  • Training: The applicant must finish a 40-hour RBT-specific training program. 
  • Competency evaluation: The applicant must pass the BCBA administered competency assessment, demonstrating competency in all essential tasks.
  • Examination:  The candidate must produce confirmation that all primary prerequisites have been met before being allowed to take the exam.
  • Ethics: Applicants must adhere to the three sections of the RBT Ethics Code: ethical conduct, customer responsibility, and competence in service delivery.

The 40-hour training program is based on content from the RBT task list and can be done either online or in person. The course must include at least three hours of ethics and professional conduct training and the candidate must have an official record of ongoing supervision.  

After completing the 40-hour training requirement, applicants must complete two assessments: the RBT Initial Competency Assessment and the RBT Exam. The competency assessment may be completed during one or more sessions in-person, online, or via recorded videos explicitly designed for this purpose. 

The examiner can be a BCBA, BCaBA, or BCBA-D. During these exams, applicants must demonstrate the ability to perform each task in one of the three ways depending on the instruction and circumstances:

  •  Interacting with a patient
  •  Role-playing with a person acting as a patient
  •  Completing an accurate concept-in-life interview

Once a candidate completes the competency assessment, they can apply to sit for the RBT exam. The certification board exam allows 90 minutes to answer 85 multiple-choice questions based on the RBT task list. This content is covered in the training course, but it is a good idea to review the material before taking the exam. 

Successfully completing all requirements is necessary to become a certified registered behavior technician.

Conclusion

Becoming an ABA behavior technician may be a good choice for someone searching for a demanding yet gratifying profession. Reading RBT job descriptions will help to understand what duties an RBT performs and what a typical day of work would look like. Each of these responsibilities builds upon smaller steps to achieve larger goals related to the RBT task list. Accomplishing these tasks can allow a registered behavior technician to transform people's lives and in so doing, society as a whole. 

If you are a candidate looking for a way to make a difference, consider Songbird therapy. We are 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 their individual needs.

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