How To Become a Registered Behavior Technician (RBT)

Kacy Kaiser

Written by Kacy Kaiser

M.S. in School Counseling | Long Island University

Updated & Fact Checked: 04.03.2024

If you are looking for a rewarding career helping people with minimal education requirements, look no further than a Registered Behavior Technician. RBTs work with the special needs population to help modify behaviors through training techniques and data analysis. A Registered Behavior Technician uses a treatment plan developed by an Applied Behavior Specialist to train developmentally disabled people to complete tasks that lead to significant skill development.

Registered Behavior Technicians (RBTs) are paraprofessionals who implement Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) treatment plans. These treatment plans describe ways to teach developmentally disabled people important life skills, emotional regulation, and communication skills. RBTs help disabled people live better lives through behavior training and data analysis.

What it’s like to be a Registered Behavior Technician

Registered Behavior Technicians (or ABA Technicians) are paraprofessionals working with board-certified behavior analysts (BCBAs) in behavioral health. Their job is to use treatment plans developed by a BCBA to build life skills and communication skills with developmentally disabled people.

RBTs work one-on-one with children and adults who have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder or other cognitive and developmental delays or disabilities. They develop rapport with their clients and collaborate with their supervising BCBA. Their job involves direct client training, behavior observation, and data collection.

RBTs do not create treatment plans, provide behavioral assessments, or diagnose clients. RBTs are not the primary counselors but work under the supervision of an applied behavior analyst. They work directly with the client and their families.

Good communication skills, detail-oriented work, and great observational skills are necessary to be successful as an RBT. In addition to these tools, RBTs should be patient and kind individuals who desire to work with disabled people.

Who can benefit from becoming a Registered Behavior Technician?

An RBT certification could lead you to a rewarding career without needing a graduate degree or the high cost of college courses. As a paraprofessional, you benefit from working with clients and their families without the responsibility of their entire treatment plan. RBTs get more face-time with clients and can develop rapport and instruct them to become more independent and healthier individuals.

If you possess the desire and kind heart to work with disabled people but do not want to analyze data and develop treatment plans, then a career as an RBT may be for you.

Compared to board-certified behavior analyst programs, which can be lengthy, RBT certification only takes a short time to complete. Registered Behavior Technician is a stable job in a clinical setting, and the growth opportunity is improving. The demand for RBTs is growing, and certified job seekers will be able to find many employment options. 

If you already work in healthcare as a paraprofessional and want to add to your training and skills, an RBT certification is a great option. Additionally, if you plan to enter a BABC master’s program, working first as an RBT could help you determine if this field is truly for you. 

Steps to Becoming a Registered Behavior Technician:

You must first meet the basic criteria to begin training to become an RBT. They are:

  • Be 18 years of age or older
  • Have a high school diploma or equivalent
  • Pass a criminal background check

If you meet these basic criteria, you can create an account on the Behavior Analyst Certification Board website. Then, you can enroll in a course of learning and begin the steps to becoming a Registered Behavior Technician:

1. Complete the RBT training course

The required training is a 40-hour course that can be completed online and is often completely free! The 40 hours must be completed in under 180 days and in no less than five days. When enrolling in a program, be sure to check that it is tailored to the RBT Task List (2nd edition) as developed by the Behavior Analysis Certification Board (BACB).

Once you have completed the course, you can submit your application for the RBT credential for $50 and take the next step of completing the RBT Competency Assessment. You will have 90 days to complete this step, which involves being directly supervised by a BCBA when completing tasks from the task list.

2. Pass the RBT exam

Once you have completed the 40-hour training course and applied for the credential, you must sit for the RBT exam. This is the last step before becoming a Registered Behavior Technician. The BACB will contact you once your application is approved, and you can sign up for the exam.

The fee for the exam is $45, and you will receive instructions to sign up in an email from the BACB. The test is administered through Pearson VUE and consists of 85 multiple-choice questions on the following topics:

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

3. Maintain Supervision Requirements

To remain proficient in the skills necessary to work as an RBT, the BACB instilled a maintenance requirement for all RBTs to complete annually. A working RBT must:

  • Receive ongoing supervision of at least 5% of the time spent providing behavior analytic services per month.
  • Follow the RBT Ethics Code and Self-Reporting Requirements
  • Complete an RBT renewal application yearly.

A certified RBT must complete an RBT Renewal Competency Assessment annually and submit it at least 45 days before expiration as part of the renewal application.

RBT programs:

The 40-hour RBT training course is provided by the following organizations. Some programs are completely free, while others charge a fee. You will need to create an account and complete the course within 180 calendar days.

How to get hired as a Registered Behavior Technician

Your job search begins once you have completed your training and received your RBT certification. Before applying for jobs, set yourself up for success with a strong cover letter and resume. Most RBT job postings can be found online through various job search websites.

Your cover letter should highlight your skills and your motivation and desire to work in behavior analysis. Discuss your training and education as well as your relevant skills. Good communication, observation, data analysis, and attention to detail are skills that employers look for. Your letter should convey your eagerness to work in this field and make a positive impact on your future clients.

Your resume should be clear, concise, and limited to one page. This document should illustrate your training, work experience, and applicable skills. Avoid long paragraph-style descriptions and keep explanations of work experience in a sentence or two.

Job Outlook and Salary for Registered Behavior Technicians

The average base salary for RBTs is $18.65 per hour, with pay as high as $24 per hour, as reported in some states. RBTs can increase their pay rate by getting additional training, taking on supervisor responsibilities, or finding another employer with a higher pay rate. Additionally, RBTs with more experience are paid higher wages.

The healthcare industry is increasingly demanding skilled paraprofessionals like RBTs. Most RBTs report a high level of job satisfaction from a rewarding career while receiving a salary that affords a healthy lifestyle.

Whether you are looking for a positive and rewarding career with minimal training requirements or on your way to a master’s degree in behavior analysis, getting certified as a Registered Behavior Technician is a great step toward your goals. As an RBT, you will be able to impact clients who truly need and appreciate your help. The rapport you can build with clients and the care you can provide will be life-changing for them. Enroll in a RBT training course and begin your journey toward this helping profession today.