How to Become an RBT: A Step-by-Step Guide

February 19, 2024

An RBT is a paraprofessional who works with a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) to provide behavior analysis services to clients. In this article, we'll go through the steps you need to take to become an RBT.

Introduction to RBT

When considering a career as an RBT (Registered Behavior Technician), it's important to understand the role and impact of this profession. This section will provide an introduction to RBT, including what it entails and the role it plays in the field of behavior analysis.

What is an RBT?

An RBT, or Registered Behavior Technician, is a vital member of a behavior analysis team. RBTs work under the supervision of a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) to implement behavior intervention plans and provide direct therapy to individuals with behavioral challenges. They play a crucial role in helping individuals develop new skills and reduce problematic behaviors.

RBTs work with diverse populations, including children and adults with autism spectrum disorder, developmental disabilities, and other behavioral disorders. They use evidence-based techniques and strategies to teach individuals new behaviors, improve social skills, and enhance their overall quality of life.

The Role of RBT in the Field

The role of an RBT is multifaceted and involves working directly with clients, collecting data, and collaborating with the behavior analysis team. RBTs are responsible for implementing behavior intervention plans designed by the BCBA, which may include teaching new skills, promoting positive behaviors, and addressing challenging behaviors.

Some of the key responsibilities of an RBT include:

  • Conducting direct therapy sessions with clients, following the behavior intervention plan.
  • Collecting data on client progress and behavior, which helps guide treatment decisions.
  • Assisting clients with daily living skills, communication, and social interactions.
  • Collaborating with other professionals, such as speech therapists and occupational therapists, to provide comprehensive care.
  • Maintaining accurate records and documentation of client sessions and progress.

RBTs play a vital role in the field of behavior analysis, helping individuals with behavioral challenges reach their full potential. Their dedication, compassion, and expertise contribute to making a positive difference in the lives of their clients and their families.

Requirements and Qualifications

To become a Registered Behavior Technician (RBT), there are certain requirements and qualifications that need to be met. These include educational requirements, experience and training, as well as a certification process.

Educational Requirements

To start your journey towards becoming an RBT, you'll need to have a high school diploma or equivalent. While a college degree is not mandatory, some employers may prefer applicants with an associate's or bachelor's degree in a related field such as psychology, education, or behavioral science.

Experience and Training

In addition to the educational requirements, gaining hands-on experience in the field of applied behavior analysis (ABA) is essential.

This experience can be obtained through working or volunteering in settings that provide behavioral services, such as clinics, schools, or residential programs. The number of hours required may vary depending on your location and the specific certification board you are seeking credentials from.

During your experience, you will have the opportunity to work directly with individuals with autism or other developmental disabilities under the supervision of a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) or a Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA). This practical experience allows you to apply the principles of ABA and develop the necessary skills to become an effective RBT.

Certification Process

To become an RBT, you must complete the certification process established by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB). This process involves several steps:

  1. Application: You will need to submit an application to the BACB, providing evidence of your educational qualifications and experience.
  2. Training: Completing an RBT training program is a requirement for certification. This training program covers the ethical guidelines, professional conduct, and technical skills needed to be an RBT.
  3. Competency Assessment: Following the training, you will undergo a competency assessment conducted by a qualified supervisor. This assessment evaluates your ability to apply the skills learned during the training program.
  4. Examination: Once you have completed the training and passed the competency assessment, you will be eligible to take the RBT examination. The exam consists of multiple-choice questions that assess your knowledge of ABA principles and practices.
  5. Certification: Upon passing the examination, you will be awarded the RBT credential by the BACB. This certification is valid for one year, and you will need to meet certain ongoing requirements to maintain your RBT status.

By fulfilling these requirements and qualifications, you can embark on a rewarding career as an RBT, making a positive difference in the lives of individuals with autism spectrum disorder and other developmental disabilities.

Steps to Become an RBT

Becoming a Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) requires a series of steps that include research, education, experience, training, and examination. Following these steps will set you on the path to becoming an RBT and making a positive difference in the lives of others.

Step 1: Research and Familiarize Yourself

Before diving into the process of becoming an RBT, it's essential to research and familiarize yourself with the role and responsibilities of an RBT. Gain a clear understanding of the field of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and the impact RBTs have on individuals with behavioral challenges. This will help you determine if this career path aligns with your interests and goals.

Step 2: Pursue the Required Education

To become an RBT, you need to meet certain educational requirements. Typically, a high school diploma or equivalent is the minimum requirement. However, some employers or states may have additional education requirements. It's important to check the specific requirements in your area and consider pursuing additional education in psychology, education, or a related field to enhance your knowledge and skills.

Step 3: Gain Experience in the Field

Gaining practical experience in the field of ABA is crucial for becoming an RBT. Look for opportunities to work or volunteer in settings that involve working with individuals with behavioral challenges. This experience will provide you with valuable insights, enhance your understanding of ABA principles, and demonstrate your commitment to the field.

Step 4: Complete RBT Training

RBT training is a formal requirement to become an RBT. The training program is typically conducted by a qualified instructor and covers topics such as ethics, professionalism, behavior reduction, and skill acquisition. The training can be completed online or in-person, and it must be based on the RBT Task List provided by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB).

Step 5: Pass the RBT Exam

After completing the required training, you will need to pass the RBT exam to become a certified RBT. The exam is designed to assess your knowledge and understanding of ABA principles and practices. It consists of multiple-choice questions and requires a passing score to obtain the RBT certification.

Exam DetailsFormatDurationPassing Score

Preparing for the exam involves studying the RBT Task List, reviewing the training materials, and practicing sample questions. It's important to allocate sufficient time for exam preparation to increase your chances of success.

By following these steps and meeting the requirements, you can become a certified RBT and embark on a rewarding career in the field of ABA. The journey requires dedication, commitment, and a genuine passion for making a positive difference in the lives of individuals with behavioral challenges.

Benefits and Rewards of Being an RBT

Becoming a Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) can bring numerous benefits and rewards. As an RBT, you have the opportunity to make a positive difference in the lives of individuals with behavioral challenges, while also enjoying job opportunities, growth potential, and career satisfaction.

Making a Positive Difference

One of the most rewarding aspects of being an RBT is the opportunity to make a positive impact on the lives of others. By working directly with individuals with behavioral challenges, you have the chance to help them develop new skills, overcome obstacles, and improve their overall quality of life. Through the implementation of behavior analysis techniques and interventions, you can play a crucial role in promoting positive behaviors and reducing challenging behaviors. Witnessing the progress and growth of the individuals you work with can be incredibly fulfilling and meaningful.

Job Opportunities and Growth

The field of applied behavior analysis (ABA) is experiencing significant growth, leading to an increased demand for qualified RBTs. As an RBT, you can find employment opportunities in a variety of settings, including schools, clinics, residential facilities, and community organizations. The demand for RBTs is particularly high in the field of autism treatment, as ABA has been shown to be effective in supporting individuals with autism spectrum disorder.

Furthermore, the field of ABA offers potential for career growth and professional development. With experience and additional training, RBTs can advance their careers and take on leadership roles, such as becoming a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) or a supervising RBT. These advanced positions not only provide higher levels of responsibility and autonomy but also offer increased earning potential.

Career Satisfaction and Fulfillment

Working as an RBT can provide a high level of career satisfaction and fulfillment. The ability to witness firsthand the positive changes in the lives of the individuals you work with can be immensely gratifying. The field of ABA also offers a supportive and collaborative work environment, where you can learn from experienced professionals and contribute to a team-based approach in providing effective interventions.

Moreover, as an RBT, you have the opportunity to continuously develop your skills and knowledge through ongoing training and professional development. This allows you to stay up-to-date with the latest research and best practices in the field, enhancing your expertise and providing a sense of professional accomplishment.

In summary, becoming an RBT brings a multitude of benefits and rewards. By making a positive difference in the lives of others, enjoying job opportunities and growth potential, and experiencing career satisfaction and fulfillment, you can embark on a fulfilling career path as an RBT.

RBT vs BCBA: What's the Difference?

While an RBT and a BCBA both work in the field of behavior analysis, there are some key differences between these two roles.

A BCBA is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst who has completed a graduate-level program in behavior analysis and has passed the BCBA exam. A BCBA is responsible for conducting assessments, developing treatment plans, supervising RBTs and other behavior technicians, and evaluating progress.

An RBT, on the other hand, is a paraprofessional who works under the supervision of a BCBA. An RBT provides direct services to clients, such as implementing behavior plans and collecting data on client progress.

While an RBT does not have as much responsibility as a BCBA, this can be a great entry point into the field of behavior analysis. Many people start out as an RBT before pursuing further education and training to become a BCBA.

Tips on How to Prepare for the RBT Competency Assessment

Once you've completed your training, you need to pass the RBT Competency Assessment. This assessment is designed to measure your knowledge and skills in behavior analysis and consists of a written exam and a skills assessment. You can take the assessment at a testing center or online.

Preparing for the RBT Competency Assessment can be a daunting task, but with proper planning and execution, you can pass it with flying colors. Here are some tips that may help you prepare for the assessment:

1. Review the Task List

The BACB provides a detailed RBT Task List that outlines all of the knowledge and skills required to become an RBT. Reviewing this list thoroughly will give you an idea of what topics will be covered on the assessment.

2. Practice Your Skills

The RBT Competency Assessment includes a skills assessment where you'll need to demonstrate your ability to implement behavior reduction and skill acquisition programs under the supervision of a BCBA. Practicing these skills regularly will help build your confidence and increase your chances of success.

3. Take Practice Tests

There are many practice tests available online that simulate the actual RBT Competency Assessment. Taking these tests can help familiarize yourself with the format of the exam and identify areas where you may need additional study.

4. Study Regularly

Studying regularly is key to passing any certification exam, including the RBT Competency Assessment. Create a study schedule that works for you and stick to it, focusing on areas where you need improvement.

By following these tips, you'll be well on your way to passing the RBT Competency Assessment and becoming a certified RBT!

Challenges Faced by RBTs and How to Overcome Them

Working as an RBT can be a rewarding experience, but it can also come with its own set of challenges. Here are some common challenges that RBTs may face in their work and some strategies for overcoming them:

1. Dealing with Challenging Behaviors

One of the biggest challenges faced by RBTs is dealing with challenging behaviors displayed by their clients. These behaviors can include aggression, self-injury, property destruction, and elopement.

To overcome this challenge, RBTs should work closely with their BCBA supervisor to develop effective behavior intervention plans that address these behaviors. They should also receive ongoing training and support in implementing these plans safely and effectively.

2. Maintaining Client Engagement

Another challenge faced by RBTs is maintaining client engagement during therapy sessions. Some clients may become bored or disinterested in therapy over time, making it difficult for the RBT to achieve treatment goals.

To overcome this challenge, RBTs should incorporate a variety of activities into therapy sessions to keep clients engaged and motivated. They should also seek feedback from their BCBA supervisor on ways to improve client engagement.

3. Managing Time Effectively

RBTs often work with multiple clients throughout the day, which can make it challenging to manage their time effectively. It's important for RBTs to prioritize tasks and use tools such as checklists or schedules to stay organized.

To overcome this challenge, RBTs should communicate regularly with their BCBA supervisor about scheduling priorities and any potential conflicts or issues that arise.

By being aware of these common challenges and implementing strategies for overcoming them, RBTs can provide high-quality behavior analysis services to their clients while also achieving personal and professional success in their careers.


How long does it take to become an RBT?

The time it takes to become an RBT varies based on the individual's pace and availability of training. The 40-hour training can be completed in as little as one week or stretched out over several months. Once the training is complete, passing the competency assessment and applying for certification can take a few weeks to a few months.

Can I complete my 40-hour training online?

Yes, you can complete your 40-hour training online through various approved providers. However, make sure that the provider you choose is approved by the BACB.

Do I need a college degree to become an RBT?

No, you do not need a college degree to become an RBT. However, having a degree in psychology or another related field may provide additional knowledge and skills that could be beneficial in your career as an RBT.

What kind of work will I be doing as an RBT?

As an RBT, you'll be working with clients who have behavioral challenges or developmental disorders such as autism. Your work will involve implementing behavior plans designed by a BCBA, collecting data on client progress, and communicating with families and other professionals involved in the client's treatment team.

Is there room for advancement in this field?

Yes, there are opportunities for advancement in the field of behavior analysis. As you gain experience and education, you may qualify for positions such as Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA) or even Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA).


Becoming an RBT can be a rewarding and fulfilling career path for those interested in behavior analysis. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can become a certified RBT and begin working with clients to make a positive impact on their lives.

As you continue your journey as an RBT, remember to stay up-to-date on the latest research and techniques in behavior analysis, maintain your certification, and always adhere to the BACB's Professional and Ethical Compliance Code for Behavior Analysts. With dedication and hard work, you can build a successful career as an RBT.


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