In 2020, the average registered behavior technician (RBT) salary in the United States is around $40,000 per year. Entry-level salaries begin at about $28,000 per year, while experienced RBTs report earnings of over $50,000 per year.

A registered behavior technician must earn a high school diploma, complete a brief training, and pass a certification exam. An RBT position is a great place for someone to start their career if they envision working in the field of applied behavior analysis (ABA).

RBTs who wish to enhance their salaries have room for growth through additional education, certifications, and experience.

The field of ABA therapy is also rapidly expanding in 2020, so it is a great time to start a career as an RBT. The projected job growth rate for behavior technicians over the next 10 years is 12% to 22%, which is much higher than the average job growth rate of 5%.

Qualifications for Registered Behavior Technicians

RBTs work in the field of applied behavior analysis (ABA). They assist board certified behavior analysts (BCBAs) in implementing ABA therapy for adults and children with behavioral and developmental problems, most commonly autism.

Registered behavior technicians are members of ABA therapy teams , and they work directly with autistic clients. They are paraprofessionals who carry out the individual goals set for clients by BCBAs or assistant BCBAs.

Since no college degree is required to be an RBT, it is a sound entry-level position for people who don’t wish to obtain a bachelor’s degree before starting their careers.

RBTs must pass an initial competency assessment and a background check, complete a 40-hour training, have a high school diploma, and be at least 18 years old before applying to take the RBT exam. Once they pass the exam, RBTs work under the supervision of a BCBA and must renew their registration each year.

Average RBT Salary

According to PayScale, the average registered behavior technician annual salary is just under $34,000, or $16.31 per hour. The lowest 10% of RBT salaries report hourly earnings of $12.81, while the top 10% of earners report wages of over $21 per hour.

Because you only need a high school diploma and an RBT certification to become an RBT, the average RBT salary is lower than that of other ABA professionals, such as BCBAs.

Experience level makes a significant difference in the reported hourly wages of RBTs. The following are average hourly compensation rates for RBTs by experience level:

  • Less than 1 year: $15.50/hour

  • 1 to 4 years: $16.34/hour

  • 5 to 9 years: $17.60/hour

  • 10 to 19 years: $18.57/hour

  • Over 20 years: $20/hour

The actual salary of an RBT varies depending on a number of factors. Additional education, certifications, and skills can all increase your hourly compensation.

A major benefit of starting out as an RBT is the potential for job growth. If you want to pursue further credentials in the field of ABA, it will pay off as you’ll see your salary increase with these additional certifications.

With a bachelor’s degree and additional certification, an RBT can choose to become an assistant BCBA. With a master’s or doctoral degree, an assistant BCBA can become a BCBA or BCBA-D. These certifications can also be obtained directly with the appropriate levels of education, without prior experience as an RBT or assistant BCBA.

The Best States & Cities to Work in as an RBT

If you are considering a career as an RBT, you may want to think about your location. There is a demand for behavior therapists throughout the country, but certain states and cities have more lucrative opportunities than others.

These are the top 10 states for RBTs and their average salaries :

  • Nevada: $48,750

  • Pennsylvania: $48,750

  • Connecticut: $46,800

  • Washington: $42,900

  • California: $42,900

  • Massachusetts: $41,925

  • New Jersey: $40,000

  • Hawaii: $39,000

  • Michigan: $39,000

  • North Carolina: $39,000

The average entry-level RBT salary is just under $30,000 per year, while experienced workers average over $50,000 per year.

In addition to fluctuating by state, behavior technician salaries can vary by city. In general, larger cities report higher average salaries than smaller ones. Cost of living is typically higher in larger cities, so this is a tradeoff that must be considered.

These are the top cities in the U.S. for people working in the field of ABA therapy :

  • New York, New York

  • Brooklyn, New Jersey

  • Lakewood, New Jersey

  • San Jose, California

  • Houston, Texas

  • Novi, Michigan

  • Chicago, Illinois

  • Indianapolis, Indiana 

RBT Salary Trends

Now is a good time to commit to a career as an RBT, as the field of ABA is expanding. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), behavior technicians are expected to see significant job growth between 2018 and 2028.

The BLS places behavior technicians in the categories of “psychiatric technicians and aides,” 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 Positions

Registered behavior technicians are employed in a variety of settings. Most RBTs work full-time for an employer that requires an RBT certification in order to work with people who exhibit problematic behaviors.

Types of jobs that RBTs may have include:

  • General or special education teachers.

  • Childcare administrators.

  • Reading specialists.

  • Group home special needs staff.

Additionally, people in many professions enhance their resume by adding an RBT certification to their skillset, such as:

  • Clinical social workers.

  • Mental health counselors.

  • Emergency medical technicians (EMTs).

  • Psychiatric aides. 

  • Pediatric nurses.

No matter what capacity you plan to work in as an RBT, there are many job options available in 2020 and beyond. Schools, youth and adult group homes, nonprofit and community organizations, health care clinics, and hospitals all hire and rely on support from RBTs.

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