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Understanding RBT Certification: How to Become Certified as a Registered Behavior Technician

Updated: 5 hours ago


Are you intrigued by the prospect of a career in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)? You're not alone! In 2023, a whopping 67,001 individuals joined the ranks of newly certified Registered Behavior Technicians (RBTs) (Behavior Analyst Certification Board). The demand for ABA professionals has been steadily increasing and is projected to continue its upward trajectory.


This is an ideal time to earn RBT certification and embark on a career that is not only in high demand but also incredibly rewarding.

What is a Registered Behavior Technician (RBT)?

An RBT is a paraprofessional who works in the ABA field. RBTs earn certification through the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB). A vast majority of RBTs work with autistic children, though some also work in education and other subspecialties. They are a critical component of a learner's ABA team and are necessary for helping each learner reach their fullest potential. Registered Behavior Technicians work under the direct supervision of Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs). Sometimes, they also have a mid-level supervisor who supports the development of goals, trains, and supervises. 


What Does an RBT Do?

RBTs use ABA therapy strategies to teach skills and modify behaviors. They implement treatment plan goals that their BCBA or supervisor creates. Therapy is often conducted in a play-based setting, though it can vary. Learners usually have a combination of skill acquisition and behavior reduction goals that the RBT works on with them. Each learner's plan is uniquely designed based on their needs and preferences, so goals will vary from learner to learner. 


Skill acquisition goals can entail a wide range of skills, including:


  • Self-advocacy skills

  • Communication

  • Social skills

  • Safety skills

  • Activities of daily living

  • Pre-academic skills

  • Attending skills


For learners who engage in behaviors that interfere with their learning or development, RBTs implement a Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP) to reduce those behaviors and teach more adaptive ones. 


How Can You Earn RBT Certification?

To become certified as an RBT, you must meet prerequisite requirements, take a 40-hour RBT training, pass a competency assessment, and pass a final exam. Let's dive into each of these requirements. 



1. Meet Eligibility Requirements

Before pursuing RBT certification, the first step is to ensure you meet the prerequisite requirements. 


Prerequisite requirements for RBT certification include:


  • 18 Years or Older

  • High School Diploma or Equivalent

  • Can pass a Criminal Background Check & Abuse Registry Check

2. Take a 40-Hour RBT Training Course

The next step toward RBT certification is the 40-hour RBT training course. The course will train you on the ABA principles and strategies outlined in the RBT Task List and provide other information you'll need to be successful in your new role.


There are many different RBT courses. Check out RBT 40 Hour Training Course Pass Rates 2023 for an overview of the courses with the highest pass rates. As of 2023, only 74% of RBT test-takers passed the exam on their first try, so it's a good idea to take a course through a company with higher pass rates, like Appletree Connection's Empowered RBT TM Course.


Many people take the 40-hour course through an employer, while others take it independently before applying for jobs. Upon successful completion of the RBT course, you’ll receive a certificate of completion, which is needed to proceed to the next step in the RBT certification process.


3. Pass an RBT Competency Assessment

The third step in earning RBT certification is the completion of a competency assessment with a BCBA or a qualified assistant assessor. The BACB requires that the assessor and RBT applicant either A. Work for the same organization OR B. Have a contractual relationship that includes the clients who will be part of the assessment. Because of this, most people do the assessment with a BCBA at their job. However, if you're not yet employed as a behavior technician and companies in your area require you to be certified before getting hired, you can do your competency assessment remotely with Appletree Connection or another company that offers this.


The competency assessment consists of 20 “tasks” that must be demonstrated accurately. Some tasks can be demonstrated via an interview or role-play with the supervisor. However, at least three tasks must be conducted directly with a client. Therefore, completing the assessment without a client is not an option.




4. Pass the Final RBT Examination

The last step in your journey toward RBT certification involves passing the final RBT exam. This exam is completed at a Pearson Vue testing center. Before scheduling the test, you must apply with the BACB and be approved to sit for it.


Check out our blog, RBT® Exam: What to Expect, to learn more about the exam, including the price, format, scoring, and more.



Can You Get an RBT Certification Online?

Many of the requirements for RBT certification can be completed online. Most 40-hour RBT courses are offered online. Those who prefer in-person training will likely need to do it on the job after getting hired as a behavior technician. The BACB no longer allows remote testing for the RBT exam, so that component must be done in person at a Pearson Vue testing location.


How Long Does it Take to Get RBT Certified?

You can expect RBT certification to take anywhere between 2 weeks to 3 months. The timing will depend on a few factors, including:


  • The pace you take for the RBT 40-hour course. You must complete it in at least five days but no longer than 180 days. This is the most time-consuming component of certification.

  • How long the competency assessment takes. If you can't demonstrate all of the competencies on the first try, your supervisor will provide feedback and allow you another chance on another day. The number of tries it takes to complete the competency and the availability of your and your supervisor's schedule can all factor into how long it takes. Reduce the time it takes for you to pass the RBT Competency Assessment with this competency study guide!

  • The BACB's application processing timeline. The BACB usually processes applications within a week. You can see current processing times here.

Behavior is a form of communication

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Prepare for a Rewarding Career as a Registered Behavior Technician (RBT)

If you're searching for a rewarding career, we encourage you to further explore becoming RBT certified. The entrance requirements are low, there is tremendous room for growth, and the work is enjoyable. Take a deeper dive into the requirements for RBT certification in the RBT Handbook.


References

Behavior Analyst Certification Board. (n.d.). BACB certificant annual report data. Retrieved from https://www.bacb.com/about/bacb-certificant-annual-report-data/


Behavior Analyst Certification Board. (n.d). BACB certificant data. Retrieved from https://www.bacb.com/BACB-certificant-data.


Behavior Analyst Certification Board. (2022). Registered Behavior Technician Handbook. Retrieved from https://www.bacb.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/RBTHandbook_231228-a.pdf.


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