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5 Duties of a Registered Behavioral Technician

Image of a therapy session for our FAQ about RBT jobs

  • Assist in Developing Social Skills and Life Skills
  • Training for Employment
  • Providing Family Guidance
  • Behavior Reduction
  • Reporting and Documentation

What is a Behavior Technician?

A registered behavior technician (RBT) is an individual that has undergone training and education in various behavior analyst courses and seminars. The RBT is someone who has a skillset that is useful in any number of areas, whether they are working closely with those diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, hospital supervisors and staff, social case workers, or anyone dealing with people exhibiting problematic behavior. The role of the RBT is to help the board-certified behavior analysts as they are improving people’s behavior. 

Forbes did a feature on professionals who believe they make the world a better place and listed 10 types of individuals in the article. One of the groups highlighted was the registered behavior technician. More than 60 percent of ABA behavior technicians felt that their work had a positive impact on the world. 

Registered behavior technicians work to make the world a better place by helping people modify their behavior. They help people stop behavior that is not helpful, and implement positive behaviors instead. But what does an ABA technician or a registered behavior technician do, on a day-to-day basis? It’s not hard to grasp the big picture of what a registered behavior technician does, but it can be helpful to take a closer look at what everyday work looks like for a career that one is interested in, and it may be helpful to read up on RBT job descriptions. The overall idea might be appealing – helping people to improve their lives – but it’s important to know what, exactly, that would involve every day. That’s why we’ve made an RBT job description in the form of a list of the top five RBT duties. This list may help answer questions such as, “What is a behavior technician?”

What Does a Registered Behavior Technician Do?

RBT Job Description:

Assist in Developing Social Skills and Life Skills

What is an RBT? An RBT, or registered behavior technician, assists a board-certified behavior analyst in helping individuals on the autism spectrum develop social skills, as well as helping others with behavioral challenges. In other words, the registered behavioral technician will be working under the guidance of a board-certified behavior analyst; the registered behavior technician will be implementing the plans that the board-certified behavior analyst makes. The board-certified behavior analyst has had more education and experience than the registered behavior technician, which means that the registered behavior analyst can learn from them. This relationship is important when considering RBT job descriptions. 

In younger individuals, particularly those on the autism spectrum, basic social skills are a struggle. In fact, many people in today’s society find themselves needing assistance with basic life skills. The registered behavioral therapist can help by acting as a kind of navigator for the uncharted waters that some individuals get lost in. By providing encouragement and understanding, the ABA behavior technician can take someone previously unsure about many basic areas and help them achieve a sense of self-esteem and confidence. 

An activity like going to a restaurant can be challenging and even frightening for a child with autism spectrum disorder. Other things that can be difficult to handle include going to the store, handling bullying, play dates, potty training, or taking turns, depending on the age of the child. The role of the RBT is, according to autismspeaks.org, to help a child by having them practice social skills in a setting that closely mimics the real-world situations they will find themselves in. Another area that the RBT and child will focus on is timing and attention. For those with autism spectrum disorder, it can be difficult to pick up on social cues and still more difficult to react with the expected response. This is something that the RBT can help the child to learn, which in turn might lead to better communication. It is important for children, especially autistic children, to have support when they are building their social skills, since this is a major factor in things like friendship. It is difficult for the autistic child to build friendships with someone when they are separated by something as basic as communication skills. An RBT training someone in social skills could potentially be life-changing, which is why this is such an important part of the ABA technician job description. 

Of course, change happens slowly. The RBT must have patience with the child he or she is working with. Often, this change is achieved through realistic situations; other times, it may be accomplished through play. The individual may learn alone, or they may be part of a group of people who are working on their social skills. Some people learn better alone, or feel more comfortable in a one-on-one situation. However, eventually these social skills must be practiced with more people, which is when groups come into play. 

Behavior Technician Autism Job Description:

Training for Employment

An article in The New York Times highlighted the unique abilities of certain people on the autism spectrum. One area where these people can flourish deals with doing tedious and monotonous tasks, such as data entry. Registered behavior technician duties include working with individuals to highlight their marketable skills. Lexingtonservices.com lists several jobs that may be good career options for those on the autism spectrum. These areas include animal science, research, accounting, shipping and logistics, art and design, and manufacturing.

There are quite a few factors that go into having a job that many people don’t realize can be a challenge for some people on the autism spectrum. For example, working often involves a lot of social interaction. This is not a problem for many people; they may not even realize how much of it is taking place. However, when social interaction is a major challenge, this is something that can deter someone with autism from getting a job. That’s why the RBT works so hard to prepare people with ASD for having a job, and why it’s such an important part of the behavioral technician job description. Another challenge can be that those with autism can be difficult to work with in some ways. They may have habits that are difficult to get along with, or they may be very rigid and inflexible. They may insist on doing things a certain way. RBTs work with these individuals to help reduce these behaviors or habits. It’s also important, however, for employers to understand these challenges and be ready to deal with them as they come up. 

ABA Technician Job Description:

Providing Family Guidance

When families find themselves dealing with the stresses and challenges of individuals who have behavioral problems, the registered behavioral technician (in conjunction with a certified behavior analyst) can help provide a healthy protocol for daily use, including role-playing, empathic training, and generally keeping lines of communication open for everyone involved. The registered behavioral therapist works to help those with behavioral issues integrate into a nurturing and caring family environment. 

Much is said about the challenges facing those with autism. However, being a parent or a sibling of someone who has autism has its own set of challenges. Beginning with the time that the child is diagnosed, there are many adjustments that must be made. Parents may need to change their plans in the big picture, and they will need to adjust every day to cope with this set of challenges. The autistic child may end up taking up most of the parent’s attention, leaving little time or energy for other children. Parents may experience a variety of emotional reactions, according to autismspeaks.org. They may experience sadness, as the hopes they had for the child may need to change. They might be angry at the circumstances. They might go through denial, refusing to accept the situation. They may be stressed or anxious about the future. These are all issues that a registered behavioral technician can help with.

This article from autismspeaks.org points out that parents will certainly need to continue supporting their other children, despite the needs of the child with autism. Brothers or sisters might feel jealousy over all of the attention that the autistic child recieves. Very young children might feel confused or not understand what is going on. They might feel embarrassed if their sibling with autism has unusual behaviors in public. They might be worried about their family. These feelings might be difficult to express, but sometimes the role of the RBT is to help a family understand better how to support each other and the child with autism. That’s why the behavioral technician job description includes support of the family. 

Behavior Technician Autism Job Description: 

Behavior Reduction

A registered behavior technician often works with people who have behavioral issues. These issues sometimes cause them to act out inappropriately. The RBT, under the supervision of a certified behavior analyst, works to reduce those behavioral issues. This often proves to be challenging, as the RBT needs to identify the triggers causing the unwanted behavior. Once that takes place, both the technician and the autistic individual work on finding ways to either reduce the behavioral issue or eliminate it entirely.

According to theautismhelper.com, the first step for a behavior analyst is to observe the individual’s environment, whether it is at home or in a classroom setting. The next is to understand what is maintaining the negative behavior. For example, the behavior analyst may be working with a child who is accustomed to whining to get what he wants – for example, a snack. The behavior analyst may observe the environment and conclude that whenever the child whines, he gets a snack. The child whining is the behavior; getting the snack after whining is the part of the environment that maintains the negative behavior. Naturally, if the outcome that the child wants – i.e., the snack – results from whining, he will continue to whine. The behavior analyst wants to replace the outcome immediately following the problematic behavior to one that the child will not like. In this example, the behavior analyst might simply ignore the child when he is whining, rather than giving him the snack. Since the child cannot get a snack by whining now, he will be more readily taught other ways of reaching his goals, such as asking politely (whether verbally or nonverbally). Over time, if the outcome of the behavior is changed, the negative behavior will begin to change as the child realizes what he needs to do to get what he wants. If the result of the behavior changes, the behavior will be replaced by another, more positive behavior that also gets the child what he wants. Note that these steps are shared between the board-certified behavior analyst and the registered behavior technician. Typically, the BCBA is in more of a planning and supervisory role, as explained above.

Registered Behavior Technician Job Description:

Reporting and Documentation

Since the registered behavior technician works with a board-certified behavior analyst, it’s important that those individuals under the technician’s care have behavior documentation and reporting. This is another one of the RBT responsibilities that may go into a registered behavior technician job description. Those records can help identify which areas of treatment seem to be effective and which areas might not be working as well as the behavior analyst and the technician might like.

Many individuals who work in the field of applied behavior analysis find themselves growing impatient with the process. When working with human beings, change is never instantaneous, and there are many milestones to be reached and passed along the way. Often, the individual that the registered behavior technician is working with will make a great deal of progress in one session, only to slide backwards at the next session. It often feels as if they are taking one step forward and sliding two steps back, and no one formula will ever work for every single individual. That is why RBT duties, such as keeping the above-mentioned records, are so important. It is important that the registered behavior technician, as well as the board-certified behavior analyst, knows when to change strategies. However, it is also important to keep a record and be able to look back on the progress that has been made. This can be a challenging field, but keeping a record of the progress that has been made can encourage the people working in it. 

What is an RBT? Is the Career Worth It?

For someone looking to find a career that can be both challenging and incredibly rewarding, becoming an ABA behavior technician might fit the bill, and reading RBT job descriptions can be helpful in determining everyday RBT responsibilities. Each of these RBT duties listed makes use of small steps to reach goals; when many of these smaller goals are reached, larger goals can be created and reached. The performance of these seemingly ordinary duties can put a registered behavior technician in a position to change the lives of individuals, as well as changing society itself. Change for the better begins with small steps in the right direction, and being a registered behavioral therapist is a wonderful opportunity for those who want to change the world for the better. 

ABADP Staff 

September 2021

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This concludes our list of the top five registered behavior technician duties.