BCBA vs. RBT: Differences in Duties, Salaries and Skills

What is the difference between an aba and a bcba?

Behavior analysis is categorized by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) as the scientific report of theories of learning and behavior. Applied behavior analysis (ABA) and experimental behavior analysis make up this behavior analysis. The framework for in-depth study of ABA principles, which are then applied to raise living standards, is experimental behavior analysis.

People with expertise in behavior analysis are equipped to offer ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) services, including behavioral evaluations, data processing, creating behavior-analytic care plans, instructing staff on how to carry them out, and overseeing their execution. The three certifications in the ABA field are Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA), Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA), and Registered Behavior Technician (RBT).

Regardless of their chosen career path, ABA program graduates can expect to make a difference in a variety of fields. The Association for Behavior Analysis International claims that applied behavior analysis has led to particularly effective initiatives in a variety of fields and populations, including organizational behavior management, cognitive science, behavioral medicine, autism, developmental disorders, and autism spectrum disorders.

Finding the Right Job in Applied Behavior Analysis (BCBA, RBT, BACB)

What is an RBT?

A registered behavior technician, or RBT, collaborates with board-certified analysts to carry out a patient’s BCBA-created treatment plan. A therapist who uses applied behavior analysis can collaborate with a RBT. To assist BCBAs in implementing treatments so they can reach more patients, RBT is an entry-level position. Before continuing their education, some behavioral analysts and therapists begin their careers as RBTs. This role has fewer requirements than the BCBA. To become an RBT, you need to:

What is a BCBA?

A BCBA, or board-certified behavior analyst, is a specialist who works in schools and hospitals to treat patients who have emotional instability, social and behavioral problems, developmental disabilities, brain injuries, or both. To become board certified, you need:


The following are the distinctions between a registered behavior technician and a board-certified behavior analyst:


Here are some duties of a BCBA:

RBTs have fewer requirements to become certified, but they are crucial team members in behavioral therapy. Here are the duties of an RBT:


Qualifying exam

Before using those titles, RBTs and BCBAs must pass qualifying exams, but the exams are very different from one another. Because the BCBA exam is scaled, you must achieve a certain score to pass. The maximum score is 500, but certification requires a score of 400 or higher. The exam is computer-based and typically covers 160 questions in four hours. You have at least eight chances to retake the exam in a two-year period. Once you pass the test, you become board-certified and can start working in positions that call for certification immediately.

The RBT exam, like the BCBA exam, costs a fee. However, you only have 90 minutes and 75 questions to complete it. Within minutes of electronically submitting the exam, you learn if you passed, and a week later, your name appears on the RBT registry. Once you pass the test, you can use the term “registered technician” and use it when applying for jobs.

Skills of a BCBA

Here are some skills board-certified behavioral analysts use :

Behavior analysis

These experts use their analytical abilities to recognize patient behavioral patterns. They can work with both adults and children to observe behavior, analyze data to create treatment plans, monitor patients’ progress, and make necessary treatment adjustments. Based on each patient’s needs, behaviors, and triggers, the BCBAs’ training and experience enable them to develop personalized plans for each of their patients.

For instance, the analyst can look at the patient’s diagnosis and past treatment outcomes and use behavioral analysis skills to watch the patient’s reactions to various stimuli. They can then develop a customized treatment plan that incorporates these factors.


Behavior analysts must communicate with their patients, who may struggle to control their emotions or have developmental disorders. Strong communication abilities are necessary for these professionals to overcome any barriers that these conditions might pose to their ability to interact with patients in an effective manner. Through communication, BCBAs can find out more about the patients’ physical and mental health, as well as whether their treatments are having the desired effect or if they need to adjust their course of action. Additionally, behavioral analysts communicate with the families of their patients’ patients to provide diagnoses, treatments, and progress updates.

Parent education

A large portion of a behavioral analyst’s duties include working with patients’ families. Talking about the patient’s treatments can be confusing to family members who lack the analyst’s expertise and knowledge. The analyst enlightens the parent about expectations for their child, causes of particular behavioral tendencies, why they manifest in the patient, and what work the analyst is doing with the patient to improve their well-being in order to make up for the gap in understanding.

Data collection

Utilizing data collection skills will enable you to capture the necessary behavioral patterns and use the information for analysis when working with patients to determine the best treatment plan. An analyst can create data collection procedures that are uniform for all patients if they work with many patients, such as in a hospital or school. Data that is kept in a single location and uses a common format may be simpler to analyze effectively.

Skills of an RBT

Because they are crucial to behavioral therapy, the majority of the skills an RBT employs are also those of a BCBA. Examples include:


Empathy is crucial because it enables RBTs to comprehend their patients’ experiences and provide them with the best care possible. Regulating the emotions involved in treating people who have emotional control issues or developmental disorders can be difficult. The confusion and difficulty of treatment for patients can be somewhat reduced by having a compassionate and empathic attitude.


An RBT manages their responsibilities by being adaptable to changing treatments and unpredictable patient reactions. Since technicians frequently interact with patients, it’s helpful to adapt to different personalities and diagnoses. Prioritizing the needs of the client may require making sudden, unforeseen changes to plans.


RBTs and BCBAs must exercise patience when providing treatment in order to see the changes, which may take time to manifest. A patient’s behavioral therapy team can track the patient’s progress and modify their course of treatment as necessary thanks to the persistence of their technician and the meticulous data collection of the BCBA. The patient’s experience can be enhanced by being patient with them and establishing a calm environment.


Do you need to be an RBT before becoming a BCBA?

Your RBT credentials cannot be used to advance your BCBA application. You must enroll in a higher education program at a recognized university.

Is an ABA therapist and RBT the same?

While ABA focuses on specific and immediate behavioral issues, CBT takes a much wider approach to promote healthy and long-lasting development in the patient. Professional therapists frequently combine elements of the two fields in their work, though some choose to specialize to advance their careers.

Is RBT in high demand?

A 12% to 17% increase in employment is anticipated for registered behavior technicians (RBTs) in the upcoming years. RBTs are more in demand as behavioral analysts are needed more frequently across the nation.

Is becoming an RBT worth it?

If someone wants to work in the field of applied behavior analysis (ABA), an RBT position is a great place to start. RBTs have room for growth through additional training, certifications, and experience if they want to increase their salaries.

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