If you are drawn to the field of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), becoming a Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) might be the perfect starting point. This role is filled with opportunities for personal and professional growth and a direct path to making a substantial difference in people's lives.


The Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) created the RBT certification in 2014. Since then, the number certified has grown significantly. Currently, there are over 150,000 certified RBTs. The growth of this role is tremendous, with more than 20,000 newly certified in 2023 alone. Let's explore what it takes to become an RBT and how rewarding, albeit challenging, this career can be.

Overview of RBT Certification

The RBT certification is an entry-level credential in the ABA field. RBTs most often work directly with children with autism and other intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). RBTs are responsible for implementing skill development goals and behavior intervention plans under the supervision of a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA).


Earning certification as an RBT increases an individual's credibility in this field. The certification process ensures that behavior technicians have demonstrated an understanding of and competence in applying ABA principles effectively and ethically. In addition to improving the quality of care, obtaining certification can add value to one's career and may open up additional employment opportunities.

Prerequisites for RBT Certification

The BACB sets forth eligibility requirements for obtaining RBT certification. Before proceeding with the process of obtaining certification, it is important to ensure you meet the minimum prerequisite requirements.

RBT certification prerequisites include:

  • 18 years of age or older
  • Have a high school diploma or equivalent
  • Pass a background check and an abuse registry check

The RBT Certification Process

The first step in becoming RBT certified is completing a 40-hour training course. This course consists of at least 40 hours of content, covering topics such as ABA assessments, data collection, ethics, and more. By the end of the training, you should have a solid understanding of the RBT task list. This course will take at least five days if you complete 8 hours of training each day. The BACB requires applicants to spend at least five days on their training, so it cannot be completed in fewer days.


Upon successfully completing the training course, you will need to complete a competency assessment with a BCBA or a qualified assessor. The competency assessment is your chance to demonstrate the knowledge you obtained during the training course. This assessment is typically completed in one to three hours across one or two sessions. However, if you cannot demonstrate all competencies, the assessor will provide feedback and allow you another chance.


Next up is the RBT exam. This is the final component to becoming RBT certified. The exam consists of 85 questions regarding the RBT task list, 10 of which are unscored pilot questions. You have 90 minutes to take this exam. Once you pass, you will earn RBT certification.


Factors Influencing the RBT Certification Timeline 

So, how long does it take to become RBT certified? All-in-all, it can take anywhere from two weeks to a few months to complete all the requirements for certification. 


One of the greatest factors in the timeline is your pace in completing the 40-hour training. If you can complete the training in one or two weeks, that will significantly speed up the process. However, many people require additional time to complete all 40 hours. 


Another factor that may alter the timeline is the scheduling and implementation of the competency assessment. Those already working in the field and who have access to a BCBA supervisor may be able to schedule a competency assessment rather quickly. However, this process may take longer for those not yet working in the field. Additionally, if you don't pass the full competency assessment on the first try, that can affect the timeline, as you will need to schedule additional sessions with your assessor. 


Your timeline may also be affected by the time the BACB takes to approve your application and the availability of exam dates in your area. RBT certifications are typically processed within about one week. After approval, you must select an exam date at a local Pearson-Vue location. When selecting an exam date, consider how long you will need to study and prepare. 

Tips for a Streamlined RBT Certification Process 

Carefully consider the 40-hour training courses before selecting one. Many trainings are available, but they are not all created equally.

Get comfortable with the format and content of the RBT exam by taking mock exams. CentralReach’s 40-hour RBT course includes two mock exams to ensure you are well-prepared for the final exam.

Take your time to study for the competency assessment and RBT exam. The training course is extensive, covering many concepts and principles. The material can be challenging to retain without additional study efforts. Get comfortable with the format and content of the RBT exam by taking mock exams. CentralReach’s 40-hour RBT course includes two mock exams to ensure you are well-prepared for the final exam. 

Maintaining and Renewing the RBT Certification 

RBT certificants require ongoing supervision to ensure they are providing high-quality care. As such, they must receive supervision at least twice monthly for a minimum of 5% of their total hours. For example, if they work 100 hours per month, 5 of those hours must be supervised. At least once per month, the supervisor must observe the RBT with a client. 


To maintain certification, RBTs are required to renew certification annually. This entails completing another competency assessment with a BCBA or qualified assessor. Once the assessor signs off on the competency assessment, you can renew your certification online in your BACB account. Be sure to monitor your renewal date closely. If you miss the deadline for renewal, you will need to restart the process to obtain certification again.

Wrapping It Up 

Becoming an RBT is a journey of growth, challenge, and immense satisfaction. It's your chance to make a difference every day and build a career in a field that's all about positive change. As you embark on this journey, plan for at least a few weeks to obtain certification. Carefully consider your available time and resources to identify a more accurate estimate of how long it will take for you to complete the requirements. Earning RBT certification can be a breeze when equipped with the right tools and resources. If you're ready to take that first step, there's a community of behavior analysts and clients waiting for your unique contribution. Let's get started! 



Behavior Analyst Certification Board. (2023).BACB Certificant Data. https://www.bacb.com/bacb-certificant-data/