An RBT certification allows you to provide direct therapy to people with autism.

Registered behavior technicians (RBTs) are paraprofessionals who implement ABA treatment plans that are created by board certified behavior analysts (BCBAs). Unlike most BCBAs, RBTs work consistently and directly with people on the autism spectrum.

How RBTs Use ABA Therapy

People on the autism spectrum benefit greatly from applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy, which is an approach to managing emotional and social functioning so the person can have greater independence. Although a lot of the ABA therapy process happens “behind the scenes,” like creating a treatment plan and measuring improvements to individual sessions, the most important part of this approach to therapy occurs in person.

RBTs are vital positions for ABA therapy, and this job is greatly in demand as ABA therapy services become more popular. The Behavioral Analyst Certification Board (BACB) manages professional standards for most ABA positions, including RBTs, so follow their guidance to obtain this certification and begin helping people on the autism spectrum.

How Do You Become a Certified RBT?

These are the basic BACB requirements to become an RBT:

  • You must be at least 18 years old.
  • You must have a high school diploma or a GED (high school diploma equivalent).
  • You must pass a background check comparable to those of home health aides, caregivers, and teachers.
  • You must complete the 40-hour required training.
  • You must complete the initial competency assessment.
  • You must qualify to take the board certification exam after finalizing training.
  • You must pass the exam and receive certification.

Once you complete the board certification exam, you can begin searching for RBT jobs. However, you must maintain your certification, which involves:

  • Being under the supervision of a BCBA.
  • Adhering to established ethics guidelines.
  • Renewing your certification each year.

The required 40-hour training can typically be found at:

  • A local college or university. Many state, private, and technical schools offer training in ABA therapy techniques, including RBT training. This will likely be provided as a certification program. Be sure that the school you want to attend has been accredited to basic national degree standards and approved by the Association of Behavior Analysts International (ABAI).
  • A training company. Several companies offer approved live or online courses that you can take at your own pace. This is a great choice for working professionals who are already in a field like education or caregiving, who want additional qualifications to help people on the autism spectrum. Elemy has launched Ecademy: a fully-paid, 3-month, training-and-certification program for registered behavior technicians (RBTs).
  • Your current employer. If you work in a school that offers special education, a caregiving company that helps people with moderate or severe autism, a clinical psychology setting that provides treatment for people with autism, or another related setting, you may be able to ask your employer for help getting additional education. Many companies offer employee benefits packages that include some financial support for education. Your company will also be able to recommend local training options.

Once you complete your 40-hour training, submit proof of that and other required paperwork to the board certification examination providers. They will assess your application and let you know soon if you are eligible to sit the examination.

You must also find a suitable RBT supervisor, which is typically a BCBA or BCaBA. Your supervisor completes part of your application for the exam, notifying the board that you are qualified and have appropriate professional supervision in sensitive settings.

How Much Do RBTs Make?

The average RBT salary is $39,000 as of 2022, but this amount can vary based on several factors. For example, if you have just received your certification, you are more likely to make $20 per hour, or $31,000 per year, as you have not built up experience in the field. However, if you have worked as an RBT for several years and are well established with your clients and overseeing ABA therapist, you can make up to $50,000 per year.

The amount you make will also depend on where you live, as the cost of living can vary a lot across the United States. For example, an RBT in Florida makes closer to $39,000 per year, while an RBT in California makes around $42,000 per year.

How Can You Find an RBT Job?

Finding a job as an RBT may involve:

  • Searching online job boards.
  • Asking for referrals from your school.
  • Attending job fairs.
  • Seeking out ABA therapy practices near you and asking about openings.

Since RBTs are increasingly in demand, there are likely to be many online postings for these positions. It is preferable to research companies and contact them directly. You can then assess if the company’s work culture is the right environment for you.

There will also be different opportunities in different settings. If you are more interested in working with children on the autism spectrum, for example, you may search for clinics that provide individual ABA therapy, or you may search for schools with special education wings who need registered nurses or RBTs. If you prefer to work with adults, you may seek out specific therapy, counseling, or psychology practices.

Working as an RBT Is Rewarding

RBTs typically work directly with clients on the autism spectrum, most often children. As an RBT, you will implement a plan developed by an ABA therapist, monitor your clients’ progress, and create reports for your overseeing BCBA. This helps the BCBA adjust the treatment plan as necessary.

In sessions with clients, you can see the changes you are making in someone’s life. This growth can be gratifying to witness. A career as an RBT can be a rewarding one.

References

Registered Behavior Technician. BACB.

Registered Behavior Technician Handbook. BACB.

Homepage. Association of Behavior Analysts International (ABAI).

Registered Behavior Technician Average Salary in USA 2021. Talent.