What is a Registered Behavioral Technician (RBT)?

What is a Registered Behavioral Technician?

Registered Behavioral Technician

What is a behavior technician, and what is an RBT? An individual who is interested in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and aspires to work with clients and patients in need of developmental behavior therapy may choose to become a registered behavioral technician. Working as a registered behavioral therapist can help an individual obtain experience working with clients suffering from a variety of behavioral issues, yet it does not require spending years in college to earn high-level degrees. A registered ABA behavior technician works under the guidance of a behavior analyst with a more advanced level of education, and they work closely with patients. Learn more about what is a behavior technician, how to become one, and what the career entails.

What is a Registered Behavioral Technician?

What is a behavior technician? What is an RBT? These are different names for the same thing: registered behavior technicians. A Registered Behavior Technician™ (RBT) is an individual who implements behavior-analytic services to patients and clients under the close supervision of a BCBA, BCaBA or FL-CBA. 

  • BCBA: BCBA stands for board-certified behavior analyst. Board-certified behavior analysts have earned a master’s-level certification in the area of behavior analysis. 
  • BCaBA: BCaBA stands for board-certified assistant behavior analyst, and this is a bachelor’s-level certification. 
  • FL-CBA: FL-CBA is a bit more complicated. It stands for Florida certified behavior analyst, and is valid only in the state of Florida; however, this certification is no longer offered. Those who have the FL-CBA certification are allowed to keep it until it expires, and when it expires they must become BCBAs. Essentially, FL-CBA equates to BCBA.

A registered ABA behavior technician may work under the supervision of any of these individuals. They will help them keep records of their plans and how the plans played out with patients, as well as helping them in their everyday work with patients. 

What Does a Registered Behavior Technician Do?

Registered behavior technicians provide mental health services to patients struggling with various behavioral problems, including post-traumatic stress disorder, physical and emotional abuse, psychiatric disorders, and substance abuse. The RBT might not make the plans, but he or she has a large role in implementing them. Making a plan involves observing the patient and coming to an understanding of what is causing their behavioral problems. Then the BCBA or BCaBA will plan how to address these problems. The registered behavioral technician may help their supervisor in this process, or they may simply be told what the plan is once it has been made. This may depend on the personality or leadership style of the BCBA or BCaBA. However, once the plan is made, the RBT helps put it into practice with the patient. Their job duties are determined by their supervisor, but they will usually include the following:

What does a registered behavior technician do? – Helping patients with social skills

Those who come to a registered ABA behavior technician for help are often struggling with social skills. They may be on the autism spectrum, as this is a group of people that often seeks the assistance of an RBT or BCBA. For those who have issues with social skills, a social interaction that is very simple for others may seem complicated and very difficult. Something as simple as ordering a meal at a restaurant may become a difficult ordeal. It is the RBT’s job to help the patient learn social skills. This may be in group settings or in a one-on-one environment. It may involve a combination of both, where the patient practices skills with the RBT in a more private setting and then uses these new skills in a group setting with other patients. 

What does a registered behavior technician do? – Helping families cope with a diagnosis

The diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder, or other disorders, can be difficult for the individual receiving the diagnosis. It can be even more difficult for the family. The parents may be worried about their child, as well as having to adjust their plans for the child. They may feel sad or angry, as well. Siblings may feel concerned or confused; they may also be jealous of all of the extra attention the affected child is getting. It is the registered behavioral therapist’s job to help a family navigate these issues. The ABA technician also communicates with the family about what needs to be changed at home to help the patient, such as schedules or the responses to certain behaviors. 

What does a registered behavior technician do? – Reduction of negative behaviors 

One of the main roles of behavior analysts, whether they are registered behavioral technicians, board-certified behavior analysts, or board-certified assistant behavior analysts, is to reduce negative behaviors. To do so, they must first observe the patient, either in a classroom or a fairly ordinary setting. They need to find out what happens immediately following the negative behavior, because this determines whether the behavior is repeated. For example, if the patient shouts at people to get what he wants, and everyone immediately gives in, the patient is more likely to repeat the behavior. However, if the RBT does not give the patient what he wants when he shouts, he is more likely to find another way to get what he wants. 

What does a registered behavior technician do? –  Keeping records

One major job for RBTs is keeping records. The BCBA or BCaBA is responsible for observing the patient’s behavior before treatment, making a treatment plan, and then, with the assistance of the RBT, carrying out the plan. These plans must be recorded so that the BCBA can see what has worked and what has not, and so they can change future plans to reflect these observations. 

What is ABA?

ABA is applied behavior analysis. It is using the observation of behavior to change people’s behavior for the better. This may be adding positive behaviors or reducing negative ones. As described above, these goals are achieved by changing the result of a behavior. For example, a child may be in the habit of crying whenever she wants a certain toy, instead of asking for it. If the child’s parents or teachers immediately give her the toy, the child will remember the behavior as successful and do it the next time she wants the toy. On the other hand, if the RBT does not give the child the toy when she cries, over time she may begin to register the behavior as unsuccessful in producing the results she wants. Then, she may begin to ask for the toy in a more acceptable manner. 

What is an RBT Trained to Help People With? 

According to leafwingcenter.org, it is commonly believed that applied behavior analysis is only used for those with autism spectrum disorder. While it has proven to be helpful for many individuals with autism spectrum disorder, it can also be a help to those with other problems. These include people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, or panic disorder.  

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

According to cdc.gov, autism spectrum disorder is a developmental disability. It causes trouble with behavior, communication, and social interaction. Those with autism often have a different way of seeing the world, or a different way of thinking about what they see. They often have trouble learning basic social skills that seem intuitive to many others. They may also have delayed communication – about 40% of those with autism are nonverbal. Children with autism often have self-harmful behaviors, such as biting or scratching. There are different levels of intellectual disability or ability among those with ASD. Some autistic individuals need more help with their daily lives than others.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Psychiatry.org describes attention deficit hyperactivity disorder as one of the most common mental disorders that children suffer from, although it is not limited to children. There are three types of ADHD: the inattentive type, the hyperactive/impulsive type, and the combined type. The inattentive type has trouble staying focused on what is going on and may also have trouble staying organized, among other symptoms. The hyperactive type seems to be always doing something, whether it is moving their hands, talking even when someone else is already talking, or running or climbing where they should not be doing so. The third type is a combination of the two. 

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

According to iocdf.org, obsessive compulsive disorder involves a repeating cycle of obsessions and compulsions. “Obsessions” refers to unwanted, intrusive thoughts that the individual cannot control, while “compulsions” describes the repetitive behaviors that the individual performs to try to get rid of the obsessive thoughts. To an extent, many people have obsessive thoughts or compulsive behaviors, but this disorder refers to individuals who have these symptoms to an extreme degree, so much so that it gets in the way of their everyday life. They have trouble continuing their normal activities. 

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Post-traumatic stress disorder is described on psychiatry.org as “a psychiatric disorder that may occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event.” The individual may experience nightmares or flashbacks about the event. They may also feel very sad or angry, or feel like they are at a distance from others. They often try to stay away from any situation that reminds them of what happened. They might have extremely strong reactions to normal things like loud noises. 

Panic Disorder

Medlineplus.gov says that panic disorder is an anxiety disorder that causes panic attacks. A panic attack is a sudden feeling of extreme fear when nothing dangerous is happening. The individual might feel as if they are losing control. They might also have symptoms such as a fast heartbeat, sweating, breathing difficulty, weakness, or dizziness. Sometimes the individual becomes so frightened of having another panic attack that it becomes difficult for them to leave their homes. 

All of these disorders can be improved upon through the use of applied behavior analysis. 

How to Become a Registered Behavioral Technician

To become an ABA technician requires completing training and obtaining certification. The path towards this career is typically the same for all candidates. There are specific eligibility requirements that must be met before the candidate can have the credential of Registered Behavior Technician™ (RBT).

  • Age and Education – The applicant must be at least 18 years old and have a high school diploma or have earned their GED. 
  • Background Check – The applicant must have passed a criminal background check within the past six months. If there is any criminal history, the background check is considered failed. 
  • Training – The applicant must complete a 40-hour training program specific to RBT tasks. This may be either online or in person. 
  • Competency Assessment – The applicant must successfully pass the competency assessment, which is administered by the BACB. To successfully pass the assessment, the candidate must prove competency in all required tasks.
  • Examination – The applicant must pass the RBT exam. Before being eligible to take the exam, the candidate must show proof that all previous requirements have been met.
  • Ethics – Applicants must satisfy the RBT Ethics Code, which includes three areas: responsible conduct, responsibility to clients, and competence and service delivery.


The final step towards becoming an RBT is obtaining certification, which requires passing the competency assessment, according to the Behavior Analyst Certification Board. It can be completed in person, through recorded videos or live on the internet and can be completed in more than one session. There are several different categories or “tasks” that must be satisfactorily completed and verified by an assessor. These tasks are grouped into: measurement, assessment, skill acquisition, behavior reduction, documentation and reporting, and professional conduct and scope of practice.

Because RBTs are not required to spend several years in college, this is a job for a person who feels they have what it takes to work with developmentally and behaviorally challenged individuals but isn’t sure if they want to make a career out of it. The upside of this job choice is that the RBT can use the training and experience towards a degree in this field if he or she finds the job rewarding and wants to advance to a higher position.


September 2021

Related Resources:

This concludes our article answering the question “What is a Registered Behavioral Technician?”