Registered behavior technicians are the unsung heroes of behavioral therapy. They are the ones that are out in the classrooms, in the hospital wards, and even in the homes of patients. They provide the essential one-on-one feedback and reinforcement that makes behavioral therapy work.
Because RBTs are found everywhere that behavioral therapy is used, RBT jobs can be found all over too. Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is a scientifically proven treatment for mental health issues as varied as depression and PTSD, and for disorders like Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
With hundreds of thousands of patients nationwide that can benefit from ABA services, there is a constant demand for registered behavior technicians.
Registered behavior technician training will prepare you for just about anything that might come your way on the job. It involves plenty of tough, heartwarming, hands-on work with people who need your help. A lot of interaction with other healthcare and behavioral professionals. And a heap of hours of real-world experience that can launch your career in behavioral therapy.
Hands-On Treatment Tasks Fill The Registered Behavior Technician Job Description
When you get right down to it, RBTs are where the rubber really meets the road in behavioral therapy work. When it’s time to go through the motions of walking a kid on the spectrum through the steps of a discrete trial training routine to help them sit still in a classroom, it’s the RBT who is there with the explanations and the rewards to make it stick. When you’re running a token economy in a behavioral support group for violent prisoners, it’s the RBT adding up the incidents and distributing the tokens and reinforcement every day.
As you can tell just from those examples, the job description of registered behavior technicians can vary based on the kind of clients they are working with.
But some parts of the job are the same everywhere. And they all involve critical tasks working directly with patients and families. This means that just about any RBT job you’re likely to find out there is going to also require that you hold RBT certification from the Behavior Analyst Certification Board, a national organization that maintains standards for all types of behavioral therapy roles.
What Does a Registered Behavior Technician Do?
In general, an ABA technician works with individuals that have a diagnosed need for behavioral therapy. Examples include patients with mental health and social disorders, substance abuse patients, autism spectrum disorder (ASD) patients, and others.
A registered behavior technician supports and implements a patient care plan created by a board-certified behavior analyst. They provide ABA interventions that encourage socially acceptable replacement behaviors so clients can build and improve upon their communication, social interaction, and problem-solving skills. What this looks like in practice varies greatly, since behavioral therapy is so specific to an individual patient’s needs.
The job duties RBTs perform every day include:
- Providing direct client care in one-on-one and group settings
- Following the behavior reduction and behavioral skill acquisition protocols
- Collecting and recording data based on client behavior
- Communicating with clients, parents, and caregivers regarding client progress
- Assisting behavior analysts and assistant behavior analysts with behavior reduction assessments and skills acquisition
- Assisting behavior analysts and assistant behavior analysts in the preparation of client materials
It is ultimately up to your supervisor to determine the tasks you’ll perform day to day, as they are responsible for your actions. But because an ABA technician’s range of support can extend so widely within a patient’s care plan, they must have excellent written, verbal, and time management skills, as well as the ability to develop and maintain relationships with clients, supervisors, peers, and community members. And because they aren’t licensed to diagnose and create their own behavioral interventions, ABA technicians must also use sound judgment and seek appropriate consultation from their supervisor to ensure treatment is provided without disruption to the client, others, and the environment.
Where Do Registered Behavior Technicians Work?
An ABA technician plays an integral supporting role in a patient’s care. RBTs can work in clinical settings or provide therapy in home, community, and school environments. Under the supervision of their lead behavior analyst, they’ll use ABA interventions to teach communication, social, and daily living skills and reduce problematic behaviors.
What Can You Do with a RBT Certification?
An RBT certification from the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) is usually good enough to qualify you for state licensure as a behavioral technician. That allows you to take on jobs in schools, hospitals, or even in home health settings administering behavioral therapies directly to patients.
Registered Behavior Technician Duties Keep Them Busy in Every Setting
No matter where you are working, the essential duties of an RBT therapist are non-stop. In every case, they revolve around providing direct care to the patients they are working with.
Schools and educational settings might be one of the most common places where RBTs work. They are often in special education classrooms, assisting with implementing federally-required IEPs (Individualized Education Program) for students with disabilities. IEPs can involve not just the typical behavioral therapies, but also educational requirements that can make these positions very similar to teaching aide jobs.
Other RBTs work for private behavioral therapy providers. They may be assigned to work in clinical settings, handling patients who come in for therapy appointments. Many of these technicians also end up working in patients’ homes, however, offering naturalistic interventions or training for family members in familiar settings. That means travel is a part of the job, but it involves plenty of variety and new experiences as well.
Finally, many RBTs work in healthcare settings. These are primarily rehabilitation or long-term care facilities, dealing with geriatric or developmentally disabled patients with behavioral issues. Some positions may be in hospitals, however. These positions can be challenging due to the sometimes traumatic injuries that lead to behavioral issues, or from the long-term decline inevitable in some of the populations you work with. But it does mean being part of a close-knit and vital interdisciplinary care team, which offers a new window into different types of therapies.
How To Keep up With the Latest in Registered Behavior Technician Responsibilities and Professional Ethics
Getting a registered behavior technician job is only the first step. Once you have your RBT certification and get hired, you have to keep up your skills in order to keep it.
RBT certification isn’t a one and done process. Becoming certified comes with ongoing obligations and annual renewal requirements.
In order to qualify for that renewal, RBTs are responsible for making sure that at least five percent of their hours each year providing behavior-analytic services have been supervised by a BCBA.
Every RBT, in every setting, also has a responsibility to continue improving their technical skills and knowledge through continuing education. The RBT credential has to be renewed annually, requiring a renewal competency assessment that is conducted by a BCBA. If you’re not keeping up with the newest techniques and procedures, you’re not likely to pass that assessment!
Your job as an RBT is always going to revolve around those patients and their needs. But you’ll find that the energy and sacrifice that you put into that work will be fulfilling for you, as well. RBT jobs are never easy, but they are always worthwhile!