Pediatric Therapeutic Services

What’s in the RBT’s Job Description?

Find out what you’ll do as a Registered Behavior Technician

Are you studying to become a school-based Registered Behavior Technician (RBT)? If you’re new to the field, you should have one overarching goal: becoming an expert at what you do.

Mastering your professional role and responsibilities means more than doing the tasks listed in an RBT’s job description. It means understanding how the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) inform your work so you can play a crucial role in helping children change their behaviors and improve their lives.

Becoming the best RBT you can doesn’t need to be an isolating process. Pediatric Therapeutic Services (PTS) has all the information you need to do your job exceptionally well!

ABA and the Registered Behavior Technician

A Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) is a credentialed paraprofessional who works one-on-one with people receiving Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy to implement their intervention plans.

As an RBT, you won’t be designing or assessing these plans. Instead, you’ll be working under close, ongoing supervision from a Board Certified Behavior Analyst—a BCBA, BCaBA, or BCBA-D—to carry them out.

This professional hierarchy reflects different levels of education. To be an RBT, you must have a high school diploma, RBT training and certification. A BCaBA requires an undergraduate-level certification; a BCBA, graduate-level. A BCBA-D has doctoral training. Supervision also ensures the client (in school settings, the student) receives high-quality care. But like the analysts supervising you, you’ll be expected to understand ABA’s key concepts.

ABA therapy relies on systematic manipulations of the environment to modify behavior.  Often, ABC’s of behavior are analyzed -Antecedent (the stimulus preceding the behavior), Behavior, and Consequence (the behavior’s positive or negative result)—to determine influential factors affecting behavior. Commonly used ABA techniques include:

  • Shaping
    Approximating the desired behavior before students can demonstrate it, as a way of teaching it to them.
  • Positive Reinforcement
    Giving meaningful rewards when a student exhibits a desired behavior.
  • Naturalistic Teaching
    Coaching students to exhibit desired behaviors as opportunities to do so arise in the course of the day-to-day routine.
  • Prompting and Prompt Fading
    Giving students cues to perform desired behaviors, then gradually reducing those cues’ strength until students no longer need them.
  • Chaining
    Teaching students the discrete but related “steps” in desired behavioral sequences, and providing reinforcement as they master each one.

As an RBT, you will be using these ABA intervention strategies and others with students. Again, you won’t be responsible for selecting which ones to use—your supervisor will make those choices—but you will witness firsthand the often dramatic difference ABA strategies can make for children with physical and intellectual disabilities.

The RBT’s Specific Responsibilities

Here are some duties you can expect to find in an RBT position description:

  • Collecting data about students’ behaviors through direct observation.
  • Assisting BCBAs as directed with behavior reduction assessments and skill acquisition plans.
  • Teaching students the specific behavior skills called for in treatment plans.
  • Nurturing students’ social skills.
  • Communicating behavioral intervention results in students’ parents and caregivers.

To fully prepare for your work, review and expect to carry out the responsibilities on the Behavior Analyst Certification Board’s RBT Task List. The list has six categories:

  • Measurement
    Prepare, enter, and update all data related to students on caseload.
  • rbt job descriptionAssessment
    Describe and record students’ behaviors in measurable terms. RBTs must also assist BCBAs with assessment procedures, which vary depending on each student’s behavioral needs.
  • Skill Acquisition
    With your supervisors, create a skill acquisition plan for the student and implement procedures to encourage the student’s acquisition of the desired skill.
  • Behavior Reduction
    With your supervisors, create a behavior reduction plan and implement interventions and differential reinforcement procedures.
  • Documentation and Reporting
    Generate a complete report while complying with all applicable legal, regulatory, and workplace requirements. This report will involve other variables, such as illness and medication notes, and other objective observations.
  • Professional Conduct and Scope of Practice
    Maintain clear lines of communication and professional boundaries, and implement supervisors’ feedback to improve your professional performance.

When you accept your new position as a school-based RBT, talk to the BCBAs you’ll be working with. Ask them what specific tasks you’ll need to carry out on your own as well as what tasks you’ll be assisting them with. Exact duties vary based on supervisors’ immediate needs and preferences.

Regardless of what your exact responsibilities will be, the lists above should give you some idea of how important your clinical and communication skills will be. Time management will also be central to your role, as you’ll need to complete your tasks in a specific order, and date and communicate all observational data appropriately.

Requirements for RBT Certification

To be certified as an RBT, you must:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Have a high school diploma
  • Complete the requisite 40 hours of training, overseen by either a BCBA, BCaBA, or BCBA-D
  • Undergo a background check within 180 days of submitting your completed RBT Certification Application
  • Complete and pass the RBT Competency Assessment, in which an assessor observes and evaluates your performance of RBT tasks (in person, live via the internet, or through recorded videos)
  • Complete and pass the RBT exam, which is comprised of 75 multiple-choice questions and assesses the applicant’s knowledge of the RBT Task List
  • Abide by the RBT Ethics Code

Let PTS Help You Find Your First RBT Job

Once you receive your certification, the clinical directors at PTS can help you find your new school-based position!

From reviewing RBT job descriptions with you to matching you with a school district, to providing onsite and offsite clinical support every step of the way—at PTS, we’ll help you achieve expertise and reach all your professional goals.

Click here to contact our Conshohocken office to discover more about all the ways we can help you.

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