Behavioral health technicians are paraprofessionals who, under the supervision of applied behavior analysts and assistant applied behavior analysts, implement applied behavior analysis (ABA) treatment plans.
Behavioral health technicians do not provide assessments or design ABA interventions; instead, they are responsible for implementing the interventions developed by their applied behavior analyst supervisor.
RBT®s work in clinical settings, providing instruction and introducing behavior protocols to clients. They may also provide direct assistance to the applied behavior analyst or assistant applied behavior analyst and engage in data collection procedures.
They provide behavioral interventions in home, community, and school settings and use ABA interventions to teach communication, social, and daily living skills and reduce problematic behaviors. 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.
Although behavioral health technicians complete a course of training, they receive a considerable amount of on-the-job training from their supervisor in the following areas:
- Data collection procedures
- Implementation of skill acquisition and behavior reduction interventions
- Principles and procedures of behavior analysis
The Essential Job Duties and Responsibilities of Behavioral Health Technicians
The direct clinical duties and responsibilities of behavioral health technicians 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
Desirable Knowledge and Abilities
Behavioral health technicians must have excellent time management skills and must be able to manage multiple tasks at one time. They must have excellent written and verbal communication skills and the ability to develop and maintain relationships with clients, supervisors, peers, and community members.
They must also be committed to ongoing training and development, organizational policies and procedures, and client confidentiality.
Behavior health technicians must use sound judgment and seek appropriate consultation from their supervisor to ensure treatment is provided without disruption to the client, to others, and to the environment.
The BACB’s Registered Behavior Technician Credential
The standard credential for behavior health technicians is the Registered Behavior Technician (RBT®), a professional designation offered through the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB).
RBT®s must practice under the close supervision of Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBA® and BCBA®-Doctoral) and/or Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analysts (BCaBA®). With Board Certified Behavior Analysts and their assistants present, RBT®s implement behavior-analytic services and perform administrative tasks and duties.
Behavioral health technicians are not regulated or licensed in most states. However, a handful of states, such as Washington, Nevada, Oregon, and Louisiana, register/certify these professionals, with state practice privileges based on the RBT® certification requirements. Even in states that do not regulate behavioral technicians, the RBT® certification is recognized as a respected professional credential and is therefore a requirement among many employers.
It is important to always check with the appropriate state licensing board (usually the Board of Behavior Analysts or Board of Psychological Examiners) to learn more about the requirements (if any) necessary for practicing as an RBT®.
In addition to individuals interested in performing ABA services and those working toward a BCaBA® or BCBA® credential, a number of professionals pursue the RBT® credential:
- Hospital administrators and staff
- Nursing supervisors or specials needs staff
- Home health aides
- Case managers
- Emergency response teams
- Hospice staff and supervisors
- Substitute teachers
- Day care supervisors and staff
It is ultimately up to RBT® supervisors to determine the tasks they allow RBT®s to perform, as they are responsible and liable for their actions. Every RBT® must work under at least one responsible certificant who is listed on the RBT® Registry.
The purpose of supervision is to ensure the delivery of high-quality services to clients. Therefore, each RBT® must receive supervision at least 5 percent of the time they are providing ABA services each month.
Supervision must include at least two, face-to-face contacts each month, during which the supervisor observes the RBT® performing ABA services. Supervision may also be provided via web cameras and videoconferencing if face-to-face supervision isn’t possible. At least one of the supervision sessions must be individual, but the other may be in a small-group setting.
RBT®s not performing ABA services do not need to meet supervision requirements to maintain the credential.
How to Become a Registered Behavior Technician
To become an RBT®, eligible candidates must:
- Be at least 18 years old
- Hold a high school diploma or the equivalent
- Complete at least 40 hours of training
- Pass a criminal background check
- Pass the RBT® Competency Assessment
- Pass the RBT® exam
Candidates must complete a 40-hour course of training that mirrors the curriculum requirements of the RBT® Task List. Training must include at least 3 hours in ethics and professional conduct, may be conducted in-person or online, and may be didactic (lecture-based) or experiential in nature. The training may be conducted by a BCBA® or BCaBA®.
Note: The BACB does not provide or approve specific RBT® programs.
RBT® Competency Assessment
After the completion of the 40-hour training, candidates must complete an RBT® Competency Assessment, which looks at direct-observation competencies based on the tasks described on the RBT® Task List.
After meeting all other requirements and applying with the BACB for the RBT® credential, candidates must take and pass the RBT® exam, which consists of 75 multiple choice questions administered by Pearson VUE and is based on the following topics:
- Behavior Reduction
- Documentation and Reporting
- Professional Conduct and Scope of Practice
- Skill Acquisition