For a role in the fulfilling field of applied behavior analysis that has minimal education requirements, consider the career of Registered Behavior Technician (RBT). Behavior technicians are paraprofessional support personnel who work under the supervision of behavior analysis professionals with more education in the assessment and intervention planning aspects of the field. To become a Registered Behavior Technician, you must meet eligibility requirements, complete a training program and pass a competency assessment and examination.
The Role of the RBT in Behavioral Analysis
In the clinical practice of behavioral analysis, behavior technicians are the personnel who provide much of the direct service to clients in individual or small group settings. They carry out intervention and treatment plans that address harmful or other maladaptive behaviors and shape clients’ behaviors into more acceptable, harmless and desirable behaviors. Behavior technicians work under the guidance of Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs) and Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analysts (BCaBAs), who formulate these intervention plans based on behavioral assessments of individual clients. Because they spend so much time working directly with clients, RBTs have a very satisfying career that allows them to see the difference their efforts make on the lives of their clients.
PayScale reports an average salary of $33,507 per year, or around $16 per hour, for Registered Behavior Technicians. Experienced RBTs in the right work settings and geographic locations can earn up to $25 per hour.
Eligibility Requirements for Behavior Technicians
Before you can begin working toward your RBT credential, you must meet certain eligibility requirements. First of all, you must be at least 18 years old to start the registration process. Although the role of behavior technician does not require a college degree – in contrast to that of BCaBA, which requires at least a bachelor’s degree, and BCBA, which requires either a master’s degree or a doctorate – you must have a high school diploma or GED. Finally, you must be able to pass a background check that those used to assess the eligibility of aspiring home health aides and teachers.
Depending on your community’s usual practices and your state’s laws, this background check may include everything from criminal history to credit checks.
Training Programs for RBTs
The most important step you must take to prepare for a career as a behavior technician is completing the mandatory training program. The Behavior Analyst Certification Board requires all RBT certification candidates to complete 40 hours of training in the following categories:
- Skill Acquisition
- Behavior Reduction
- Documentation and Reporting
- Professional Conduct and Scope of Practice
Aspiring RBTs have several options for completing this training. Some behavior technicians get hired by an agency without having the credential but undergo qualifying training on-the-job that makes them eligible to complete the certification. If you’re not able to find the job you want without first holding this credential, you can look for an agency that offers RBT courses or for a college with an RBT training program. Among college-based RBT programs, classes or modules might cover topics such as concepts and principles of RBT training and practice, data use, functional assessment, verbal behavior, behavior reduction plans and procedures and responsibilities to clients and the RBT profession.
Even if you take your RBT training courses at a college, you don’t have to spend years pursuing a degree. In fact, the Behavior Analyst Certification Board requires that candidates complete all 40 hours of RBT training within 180 days of starting the program.
The RBT Assessment and Examination
Once you complete your training, your skills will be tested through two different checks: a competency assessment and a professional exam. The competency assessment is an observation-based evaluation in which a BCBA or BCaBA acts as an assessor and observes that the RBT candidate exhibits competence in all required content areas in real client interactions or role-playing scenarios that mimic what a real client interaction would look like.
The RBT Exam, on the other hand, is a multiple-choice test administered via computer that evaluates the test-takers knowledge of each content area covered in the training program. Aspiring RBTs have 90 minutes to complete 75 graded questions. Generally, candidates’ performance on the RBT Exam is strong. Among first-time RBT test-takers, 88 percent of candidates in 2016, 86 percent of candidates in 2017 and 87 percent of candidates in 2018 passed the test.
Passing score rates among candidates retaking the exam were also high, hovering around 50 percent, while retakes of the BCBA Exam resulted in passing scores around 30 percent of the time and retakes of the BCaBA Exam passed 30 to 40 percent of the time.