Ask A Professional: What does a career as a Registered Behaviour Technician (RBT) look like?

Ashton College
4 min readSep 9, 2022

The role of an RBT entails working directly with people of various ages, backgrounds and learning profiles. Individuals with a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder or an Intellectual and Developmental Disability are the two most common groups of individuals RBT certificate holders work with.

A Day in the Life of an RBT

A typical day as an RBT is never the same, depending on the number of clients you assist and each client’s Individual Learning Plan. We’ve isolated four key functions that make up an RBT’s day: direct client assistance, building rapport, putting behaviour analytic plans into action, and data gathering.

Relationship

The first and, often, most essential duty of the RBT is to form a close rapport with the clients you deal with. It is critical for an RBT to learn about your client’s interests and develop a genuine connection with them; this is known in behaviour analytic lingo as ‘pairing.’ Before starting to work with the client, you will first engage in an activity together such as playing a game, going for walk, or having a chat. This is important because it helps build rapport and establish trust between you and the client. Being able to have some fun while working also lets the client know that they are safe with you, making it more likely that they will be open to learning new skills.

Direct Client Support

RBT’s are the key to any behaviour analytic program and the direct support provider. An RBT may work with clients in a variety of settings such as: home, school, camps, community-based programs such as swimming lessons, daycare, and more. Reviewing the behaviour support plan or teaching plans identified by the Behaviour Analyst will be a common task for an RBT.

Depending on the environment, it is your responsibility to provide adequate levels of prompting or assistance. This fosters independence for your client using what you have learned from the behaviour support plan. The way an RBT assists clients may differ from one child to the next. For example, giving your client a script for dealing with social situations, physical prompting for certain activities in a group fitness class, and visual prompts for music lessons.

Implementation of Behaviour Analytic Programs

The Behaviour Analyst’s job is to put their programs into practice. This will include breaking down behaviours into teachable parts. These plans will describe the program’s aim, teaching strategy, mastery criteria, and a plan for generalization. I’ll go through each of these in detail. The goal of the program is to reach a specific goal over a certain period for the client.

A short-term goal for the child might be learning specific coping mechanisms, such as deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation. The RBT would teach these goals when the child is calm with the eventuality that the child will be able to use them when feeling upset or frustrated. A teaching strategy can use a broad range of behaviour analytic strategies taught at Ashton College’s RBT course which may include antecedent-based interventions, discrete trial teaching, modeling, or naturalistic teaching.

There are specific achievement goals set for every behaviour analytic program to help the client understand when they have met their targets. The skills learned in these programs generalize to new settings and people too. During each session, the RBT will collaborate with the client so that teachable moments arise naturally.

Data Collection

Finally, data gathering is a significant component of an RBT’s job; after all, you’re utilizing several behaviour analytic skill development and behaviour reduction programs. An RBT will frequently take “trial by trial” data, which means you’ll collect data on your client’s response, prompting that are necessary, and any form of challenging behaviour.

It is important that RBTs collect accurate data, which they then graph as directed by the BCBA. We complete data collection through either with paper and pencil or Excel collection methods. Having accurate information is key to making decisions about programming (e.g., when to reduce prompts, when a child has mastered a skill, or whether our instructional method is successful).

How do I become a Registered Behavior Technician (RBT)?

A Registered Behavior Technician is a certification in behaviour analysis, regulated by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB). An RBT’s duty is to deliver behaviour analytic services while working under the supervision of a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). If you meet the following requirements, you are eligible to take the RBT exam:

(1) being 18 years old

(2) having achieved a high school diploma

(3) passing a background check

(4) completing 40 hours of training

(5) completing an initial competency assessment

RBTs learn skills related to measuring behaviour, data collection and graphing during the 40-hour training. They learn how to assess preferences using many techniques as well as tools for determining the function of behaviour. RBTs use skill acquisition and behaviour reduction strategies and learn about professionalism including maintaining client dignity and professional boundaries. After you finish the 40-hour training, you will need to take a competency assessment from someone qualified and has finished the 8-hour supervision training.

Written by Monica Millar MA, BCBA, Behaviour Analyst

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