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Applied Behavior Analysis is a quickly growing field, especially in light of the growing numbers of children that are diagnosed with autism every year. In the year 2000, the CDC reported that 1 in 150 children born in the United States were diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Since 2016, the number of children that are diagnosed with autism each year has remained consistent at 1 in 54 children born in the United States.
Most ABA agencies have a waiting list for children with autism because Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs) and Registered Behavior Techs (RBTs) can only accommodate a certain number of hours and a limited number of clients each day or week.
The need for BCBAs and RBTs is greater than ever and as the field of applied behavior analysis grows, it has become necessary to create guidelines and requirements by an overseeing board to regulate and monitor those who serve families with children who have autism.
The agency that serves as the overseeing board for BCBAs and RBTs is the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) and they are the hub for registering and monitoring BCBAs and RBTs. The BACB follows a strict code of ethics, supervision, continuing education and annual reviews in order for their analysts and techs to stay current in the field each year.
What is a Registered Behavior Technician (RBT)?
A Registered Behavior Technician is a paraprofessional that delivers behavior therapy programs to children with autism. The programs are created by BCBAs, who complete the initial evaluations and decide which behaviors to target for therapy.
RBTs work directly with the client under the direct supervision of a BCBA who monitors the progress of each client as well as the work of the RBTs that work under their direction. An RBT is considered a “paraprofessional” because they work under the guidance and alongside of their supervising BCBA. (para means “beside” in Greek).
How to Become a Registered Behavior Technician
The most important prerequisite for becoming a Registered Behavior Technician is to enjoy and desire to work with children. More specifically, an aspiring RBT should have a desire to help people- especially those on the autism spectrum.
Being an RBT puts one in a teaching position. Not only do RBTs teach children with autism, but they also teach parents about what their child is learning in ABA therapy. So, it is important to have a love for people and teaching because teaching is a big part of the job description for a Registered Behavior Tech.
If you are someone who loves teaching and working directly with children and families, becoming an RBT could be an amazing career path for you.
What are the professional requirements for becoming an RBT?
- You must have a high school diploma: Anyone seeking to become certified as a Registered Behavior Tech must finish high school first. Having a diploma assures a prospective employer that you have a solid general education and that you have what it takes to study for and pass the training and competency portions of the RBT certification process.
- You must be at least 18 years of age: Being at least 18 years of age meets the legal requirements for taking the 40 hour training, a background check and taking the competency exam for the RBT certification.
- You must pass a background check: Whenever you work with children, there is always a requirement to pass a background check. This usually entails being fingerprinted and having an FBI background clearance to make sure that there are no previous criminal records or records of misconduct with children. Passing a background check is one of the most important steps in the process of becoming an RBT. Failing a background check will prevent a candidate from being employed and from taking the competency assessment.
- The 40 hour training: This step in the process of becoming an RBT is the biggest investment of time throughout the process. The 40 hour training is a comprehensive study of all of the various skills that are necessary for working as a behavior tech. During training, a candidate will study 6 distinct areas:
- Measurement- data collection, measurement procedures, recording data, graphs and describing behavior and environment in observable and measurable terms.
- Assessment- conducting preference assessments, assisting with individualized assessment procedures and assisting with functional assessments.
- Skill acquisition- essential components of a written skill acquisition plan, preparing for a session as required by a skill acquisition plan, contingencies of reinforcement, discrete trial procedures, naturalistic teaching procedures, task analyzed chaining procedures, discrimination training, stimulus control transfer procedures, prompting, prompt fading procedures, generalizing skills, skill maintenance, shaping and token economy procedures.
- Behavior Reduction- essential components of a written behavior reduction plan, common functions of behavior, interventions, modification of antecedents, motivating operations, discriminative stimuli, differential reinforcement procedures, extinction procedures and crisis/emergency procedures according to protocol.
- Documentation and Reporting- communicating with supervisor, seeking clinical directions from supervisor in a timely manner, reporting other variables that may affect client, writing objective session notes in accordance with applicable legal, regulatory and workplace protocol, and complying with legal, regulatory, workplace data collection, storage, transportation and documentation requirements (HIIPA).
- Profession Conduct and Scope of Practice- understanding BACBs RBT supervision requirements, the role of the RBT, responding to feedback, maintaining and improving performance, communicating with families, caregivers and other professionals, professional boundaries and maintaining client dignity.
- The Competency Assessment- This is an assessment that is conducted by a supervising BCBA after the 40 hour training has been completed. This consists of an interview or discussion of all of the various concepts that were learned in the 40 hour training. A BCBA will administer the assessment and may require role play or ask for examples during the interview/discussion. There is also a requirement to model given tasks with a client during competency assessments. Once these requirements have been completed, the supervising BCBA documents all of the assessment findings and the assessment is included with the application for certification by the prospective RBT.
- RBT Examination- Finally, to become certified and added to the registry of RBTs with the BACB, a candidate must pass an official exam. These exams are offered at test centers such as Pearsonvue. Most agencies that intend to hire a candidate will pay for the exam. Once this test is taken and passed, you are now eligible to apply for the RBT certification and begin working in autism services!
Once an RBT is certified and officially registered with BACB, there is an annual renewal process with a small fee to maintain the RBT status every year.
That Seems Like a Lot of Requirements!
While the list of requirements might seem a little daunting, it is actually a very do-able process that allows aspiring RBTs to get into the field of autism rather quickly in comparison to following a degree program.
BCBAs have a much longer road to travel with a requirement for a Masters degree in ABA or a related field such as education or psychology in addition to the BCBA process which can take a few years beyond graduate school.
The RBT, on the other hand, is allowed to work as paraprofessionals soon after high school because the training is comprehensive, the assessments are thorough and RBTs are continuously monitored by a board certified behavior analyst.
This is a great way to get into autism services by way of an entry level position that pays well without the requirement to attend years and years of college before being eligible to work with children.
RBT certification also assures the families that hire ABA agencies that the staff is well trained and qualified to work with their child. RBTs adhere to strict codes of ethics and must carry out the programs written by the behavior analysts with the same set of ethics that they learn in training.
Circle Care Services- Your Local ABA Provider
If you live in the New Jersey area and you would like to explore the idea of becoming an RBT, call Circle Care Services today. As experienced ABA providers we have walked many therapists through the process and we can guide you too.
You can train to be an RBT for free by joining our RBT education program.
In many instances, insurance will require a prerequisite of RBT certification for all personnel providing ABA for a child.
Join this fast growing field for life changing opportunity and contact Circle Care Services of New Jersey today.