When It Comes to RBT Training, Quality Is Essential

Registered Behavior Technicians™ (RBTs) have proven to be a necessary part of the workforce for Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) services. With over 89,000 certified RBTs in existence, their work is crucial to the clients served by ABA providers.

Like any critical role in healthcare, it all starts with quality training. However, standardized RBT training is still relatively new to the field. In 2018, the Behavior Analysis Certification Board ® (BACB®) approved recommendations made by a panel of subject matter experts that changed some of the RBT training requirements. These changes kept the original 40 hours of training needed for certification but put in place a guideline of completing these hours within 180 days. The new guidelines also require one hour of training on RBT supervision, as well as three hours on ethics that reflect the recently created RBT Ethics Code.

Given the importance of RBT training in upholding the values and principles of ABA services, the quality of this curriculum is paramount. A good RBT training program can ensure that future RBTs are practicing at the height of their skill set and help them pass the RBT exam on the first try.

Addressing the Shortage of Certified RBTs

ABA remains one of the most common treatments for children with autism. In spite of this, there continues to be a shortage of RBTs to address the demand for ABA services. Nationwide there is a shortage of autism providers; for example, in North Carolina, some individuals remain on the Medicaid waiting list for ABA services for months, even years.

Thankfully, the field is seeing the number of individuals with the RBT credential growing. It is predicted to continue to grow rapidly. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics places behavior technicians in the categories of “psychiatric technicians and aids,” which is expected to see 12% job growth, and “substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors” which is projected to see 22% job growth. Both categories are expected to grow much faster than the national job growth average.

RBT Training As a Differentiator in Your Organization

The growing interest in both ABA services and the RBT credential means that there may be many paraprofessionals interested in gaining this credential. Not only can it be a valuable credential for those in autism-specific services, it is also valuable for direct support professionals in IDD services, school staff, or even parents.

Organizations that provide ABA services can offer RBT training as a valuable employee incentive. It allows providers to hire individuals who have not yet become credentialed but who wish to do so, opening up a larger recruitment pool. It also ensures that every new RBT at your organization is receiving the same consistent, high-quality training.

Offering RBT Credential training as a staff development benefit can help engage and retain staff. In our webinar on training front-line staff on becoming RBTs, Stephanie Bates, M.A., BCBA, described how implementing an internal RBT training program helped reduce staff turnover. The 150 individuals who went through the training process at her agency had just an 11% turnover rate — a stark contrast to the normal 50%-70% turnover rate.

Ensuring Quality RBT Training

Despite the rigors of RBT training and supervision, some critics have shown concern about the number of hours in the RBT Credential compared to other paraprofessional credentialing programs. In addressing these concerns, it’s crucial that the RBT training being provided is of the highest quality.

One measure of the quality of an RBT curriculum is the pass/fail rate of its students on the RBT examination. For example, among 40-hour training providers, Relias had the highest pass rate of any non-university affiliated online RBT training provider, at 86.3%. Additionally, in 2020, Relias’ RBT Training had the highest number of test takers and first-time passes than any other training provider.

As the need for certified RBTs continues to grow, being able to effectively prepare for the RBT examination is essential. A quality online training program should include elements like scenario-based learning, multimodal instruction (such as video-based learning and practice exercises) and be hosted on a platform that is easy to access and use.

Providing this ease of training for the RBT credential can help address the need for more RBTs in the field, while simultaneously ensuring the quality of the education they are receiving. It’s truly the best of both worlds. It’s important for ABA providers to remember this balance as they consider which RBT training programs to recommend or implement in their own agency.

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Nellie Galindo

Product Marketing Manager, Relias

Nellie Galindo, MSW, MSPH, received her Master of Social Work and Master of Science in Public Health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has worked with individuals with disabilities in several different settings, including working as a direct service provider for individuals with mental illness and leading a youth program for young adults with disabilities. She has facilitated and created trainings for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the areas of self-advocacy, healthy relationships, sexual health education, and violence and abuse prevention. Galindo has worked in state government helping individuals with disabilities obtain accessible health information in their communities, as well as utilizing the Americans with Disabilities Act to ensure equal access to healthcare services.

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