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The RBT Credential: What You Need to Know

Today, applied behavior analysis (ABA) is most commonly applied to individuals with autism receiving intensive services. Because of the increasing numbers of people with autism, the need for trained individuals to implement these services is critical. The Behavior Analysis Certification Board (BACB) recognized this and created the Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) Credential. The credential  requires those who want it  to undergo a rigorous 40-hour training and pass a competency assessment supervised by a BCBA, BCaBA or BCBA-D.

Since 2013, the number of individuals who hold the RBT credential has increased at a phenomenal rate. In 2016, 25,853 individuals held that credential. As of April 2023, there are 136,112 RBTs in good standing with the BACB. The BACB publishes and makes changes periodically to clarify its policies and to improve standards. Resources that every RBT should be familiar with are described below.

RBT Handbook

In 2019, the BACB published the first handbook for RBTs. It describes the process for obtaining and maintaining the RBT credential. The handbook also describes how the RBT exam was developed and what to expect when it is time to take it. One of the best features of the handbook is it contains links to all of the forms needed to apply for and renew the RBT credential.

The handbook also contains a section on policies such as application, examination, and compassionate appeals. Documentation and reporting policies are listed as well as policies against forgery and submitting false information.

Individuals applying for or who have obtained the RBT credential are obligated to follow the policies contained in this handbook. The most recent updates  to the handbook include:

  • Clarification on the documentation needed for name change requests
  • Clarification on applying for voluntary inactive status
  • Updates on the annual renewal process

RBT Ethics Code 2.0

The RBT Ethics Code 2.0 went into effect January of 2022. The purpose of the code is to set professional standards and to protect consumers. The code addresses general responsibilities of RBTs including the expectations for honesty, competence, and to conduct themselves in a non-biased, culturally responsive manner. The code also outlines an RBT’s responsibility for providing services in a manner that does no harm and is in the best interest of their clients. RBTs also have a responsibility to the BACB and to their supervisors to comply with policies, the direction of their supervisor, and to self-report certain events that could impact their ability to perform their duties.

The RBT Ethics Code is an enforceable code which means the BACB can take action against RBTs or applicants who do not follow it. Actions can range from  more supervision or professional development to permanent revocation of eligibility.

Continuity of services

Sustained ABA services is critical for the success of clients. When ABA staff, including RBTs, quit without sufficient notice, client progress is negatively impacted. It is often difficult for agencies to hire, train, and replace an RBT in a short amount of time. The BACB published a Continuity of Services Toolkit. The toolkit provides agencies with suggestions on how to structure and prevent unexpected staff departures. A document for RBTs is also part of the toolkit and reviews the process for exiting an agency and how to approach planned and unplanned absences.

Your RBT credential allows to you really make a positive difference in the lives of individuals with autism. It also requires you to remain up-to-date on policy changes made by the BACB. Make sure you check your email often for newsletters and other BACB updates.

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