What Does a Behavioral Technician Do?
Updated July 31, 2023
If you enjoy working with people and have a passion for helping those with developmental and mental health needs, a career as a behavioral technician might be a fulfilling job for you. Working as a behavioral technician is also a helpful place to start if you're considering a career as a therapist or behavioral analyst. In this article, we discuss the job description and responsibilities of a behavioral technician and look at the required skills and education needed to become one.
What is a behavioral technician?
A behavioral technician, or registered behavioral technician (RBT), is a healthcare professional who works directly with patients and clients to deliver services under the supervision of various types of behavior analysts. These services often focus on mental health and help treat various conditions such as:
Depending on the condition, analysts, doctors, psychologists or nurses typically determine the treatment plans, and the technician oversees and measures the results with more intimate involvement.
What does a behavioral technician do?
The tasks of a behavioral technician can differ depending on the patient's treatment plan and condition. Responsibilities may include:
Monitoring and sharing client progress with family members and caretakers
Assisting families to help the client achieve milestones
Conducting behavioral or other psychiatric assessments
Working with patients and clients to develop their physical and emotional skills
Observing and documenting behavior data, including improvements and regressions
Assisting patients with daily living skills
Helping behavioral analysts prepare client materials
Traveling to individual homes and facilities as needed
For example, an analyst and technician may visit a patient's home to administer tests that gauge speech levels and gross motor functions. Depending on the outcome, the technician may oversee regular treatment plans that involve strengthening the muscles involved in speech or making sounds to determine further needs or encourage steady progression. After recording the data from week to week, the technician reports back to the analyst, and they provide the patient's family with updates regarding treatment plans.
Behavioral technician skills and qualities
You can learn many of the soft and hard skills required of a behavioral technician through experience. Below are some helpful skills for a behavioral technician to have:
Attention to detail
Basic computer skills to log data and perform other administrative tasks
Ability to keep patient information confidential
Positive attitude and compassion
Commitment to ongoing training requirements
You may apply these types of skills in a variety of environments with people who have different cognitive strengths and roles, both within your organization or professional communities and with the families or individuals you work with. Although working as a behavioral technician often involves discussing personal and sometimes complex subject matter, a professional and positive attitude makes it easier to develop a strong relationship with your clients and patients.
Behavioral technician requirements
Similar to their skills, many behavioral technicians receive the training and certification they need as they gain experience in the position. The education requirement is a high school diploma or GED and the completion of a certification program. Programs or companies can require this prior to hire, or the program or company may administer this as a part of training. Upon completion of this program, employers generally require the new technician to complete both a competency assessment (observation) as well as the RBT exam.
Many programs also require new behavioral technicians to earn an associate degree in psychology or counseling depending on the organization, or they may require you to take part in professional development certification programs to continue learning about current trends and information in the field.
Behavioral technician work environment
Your work environment can differ depending on the needs of the patient or client. The work can be at a clinic or office, but you may also sometimes travel to patients' homes. The ability to adapt between these environments is as important as adapting to the needs of each patient. Sometimes, the technician also aids the patient physically with everyday activities such as walking.
Flexibility is one of the most important qualities for a behavioral technician when adjusting to their work environment. You may also find it easier to find success in this position when you have compassion for families that are already overcoming obstacles and speak and act professionally to communicate any data or information from the families to the analysts.
Salary and job outlook
The average salary for a behavioral technician is $42,965 annually. The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the job outlook for this position to grow by 12% through 2029, which is much higher than the national average. As an entry-level and often part-time position, this job is a good place to start to see if a similar career is right for you.
Career growth opportunities
Becoming a certified behavioral technician is a good way to gain experience in the psychology field. Often, you can build on your education to earn bachelor's degrees or master's degrees in psychology or counseling to earn your Advanced Behavior Analysis (ABA) certification and become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) or a Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA).
Benefits of becoming a behavioral technician
There are several benefits to becoming a behavioral technician:
Fulfillment: Seeing a patient or client develop because of a treatment plan, physical aid and encouragement can be inspiring. Although challenging, providing a family or individual relief from their day-to-day struggles, even with minor achievements, is a fulfilling experience for many.
Flexible schedule: Although hours may include nights and weekends, your schedule can still be flexible, as many behavioral technician positions are part time. This flexibility allows for a new behavioral technician to explore this potential career path while being able to take care of other daily responsibilities.
Mileage reimbursement for travel: If traveling to patients' homes or between professional locations, organizations often reimburse you for your mileage.
Professional development help: Besides position-specific training, programs might offer professional development courses or offer flexible schedule options as you earn an advanced degree.
Other professional benefits: Depending on the organization, you might be eligible for paid sick time, health and dental insurance and paid time off.
Frequently asked questions
Is being a behavioral technician worth it?
While the job of a behavioral technician can be demanding, many people consider it a rewarding profession. It offers you the opportunity to help people and make meaningful connections with patients. It's also an accessible way to enter the health care field, as it requires far fewer years of schooling than many other career paths in mental and behavioral health.
What are some of the cons of working as a behavioral technician?
Here are some cons of this career:
Unconventional schedule: Behavioral technicians sometimes work late nights, early mornings, holidays and weekends. Keep in mind, though, that these shifts may result in additional pay, and you may enjoy days off to balance them.
Unpredictable client behavior: Behavioral technicians work with patients who may be facing mental health challenges, which can sometimes result in threatening behavior. Therefore, behavioral technicians can benefit from effective stress management and coping skills to ensure they can process such situations healthily.
Demanding work: Working with patients can require a lot of physical, mental and emotional energy. It helps to take time for rest and self-care to ensure you recuperate after shifts.
Who does a behavioral technician work with?
Behavioral technicians can work with children and adults facing mental and behavioral conditions. They also collaborate with other care providers, like nurses and doctors.
What's the difference between a behavioral technician and a registered behavioral technician (RBT)?
Behavioral technicians and RBTs refer to the same profession. Generally, aspiring behavioral technicians must earn the RBT certification to work in the field.
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