When RBT Certification Doesn’t Go as Planned

When RBT Certification Doesn’t Go as Planned thumbnail

In a perfect world, your experience as an RBT would be free of roadblocks and complications—and for the record, we hope that it is! In reality, you might end up in a situation that could negatively impact your certification. But where there’s a problem, there’s a solution. This blog post is here to help you find it.

Five people are standing together. The woman on the right has a thought bubble above her head with a lightbulb inside.

Scenario: You need to take a break from service delivery.

Solution: There are two ways that you can maintain your RBT certification while on a service-delivery hiatus:

  • Renew as usual. As you know, 5% of the hours you spend delivering behavior-analytic services each month must be supervised. What happens when you aren’t providing services? You don’t need supervision! All you have to do is keep up with the renewal process, so remember your renewal date, make sure you’re meeting the maintenance requirements, and renew on time. OR
  • Apply for voluntary inactive status. If you’re planning to take an extended leave from service delivery, consider voluntary inactive status, which lets you take a break from maintaining your certification for up to two years. The only catch is that you can’t provide services, bill for services, or represent yourself as an RBT until your certification status is reactivated. Review the Inactive Policy in the RBT Handbook to learn more about eligibility and getting started.

Scenario: You’re considering leaving your job as an RBT.

A man on the left smiles and waves to three people on the right.

Solution: We know there could be many reasons why you might consider leaving your job, but let’s focus on two:

  • Changing organizations. If you’re planning to deliver services as an RBT at another organization, give your current organization plenty of notice so that they can smoothly transition your caseload to other providers. And as you already know, you must have another supervisor on record before you start delivering services again. The Supervision Checklist for RBTs details the steps to take when your supervisory relationship is coming to a close.
  • Changing career paths. If you’re on the fence about working as an RBT again in the future, consider going on voluntary inactive status. The other option is letting your certification expire. Just know that if you let it expire and decide to become an RBT again down the line, you must start from the beginning and meet the requirements in effect at that time.

Either way, the most important thing to consider is the impact this transition will have on your clients. A lack of sufficient notice may negatively impact a client’s service-delivery experience and progress, so please consult the Continuity of Services: Reminders for RBTs document to ensure you get the details right.

Scenario: You were terminated from your job as an RBT.

Solution: Although this is the last thing you might expect to happen, it’s best to be prepared for anything. So, according to the RBT Ethics Code (2.0) (RBT Code), you must submit a self-report to the BACB within 30 days that explains why you were terminated. Chances are your supervisor will have already removed you from their BACB account, making your certification inactive. What comes after that? If you plan to stay in the field, just make sure that you have another supervisor on record before working with clients again.

Scenario: You aren’t sure if you have a supervisor on record with the BACB.

A magnifying glass hovers over a web page.

Solution: When we say that you must have a supervisor “on record” with the BACB, we mean that all of your RBT Supervisors and RBT Requirements Coordinators must list you as a supervisee in their BACB accounts. When that information is updated, it’s published on the BACB Certificant Registry so that anyone can verify it. So, if you’re unsure, talk to your supervisor(s) to determine who’s responsible for your supervision, and look up your name in the registry to confirm that they’re on record.

Scenario: You don’t have a supervisor anymore, but you want to continue providing services.

Solution: First, there’s no reason to worry. Throughout your journey as an RBT, it won’t be uncommon for your supervisor on record to change. It could happen because your supervisor’s transitioning to a different practice setting—or maybe because you are. Regardless, your supervisor should walk you through the transition process.

Here’s a basic rundown of what to expect:

When your last RBT Supervisor or RBT Requirements Coordinator removes you from their BACB account, your certification status immediately changes to inactive. Remember that you can’t provide services, bill for services, or represent yourself as an RBT until you have another supervisor on record, as their advanced training, education, and expertise are vital to consumer protection.

If your supervisor is transitioning to a different setting, they probably have another supervisor lined up for you already. To be safe, check with one of the supervisors at your organization. If you’re transitioning to a different setting, one of the eligible supervisors there will add you as a supervisee before you start working with clients. In both scenarios, it’s worth checking the BACB Certificant Registry to confirm that your supervisor is listed accurately.

Scenario: It’s the end of the month, and you didn’t meet the supervision requirements.

Solution: There are two things we suggest you do in this situation:

  1. Work with your supervisor. As you know, you are solely responsible for your RBT certification, so you must take the initiative to tell your supervisor when you aren’t in compliance with a requirement. Together, you can discuss what happened, find out why, and create an action plan to decrease the likelihood that it’ll happen again. Document these conversations by saving emails and taking detailed meeting notes, and send them to your supervisor so that they have a copy as well. AND
  2. Self-report to the BACB. Although this sounds serious, remember that submitting a self-report does not necessarily mean you’ll be in trouble with the BACB. It’s simply a way to acknowledge potential ethics violations and provide context. For example, in your self-report, you should say why you didn’t meet the supervision requirements that month and include your action plan. The BACB will review your submission and contact you about the next steps.

If you find that you are consistently unable to meet the supervision requirements and your supervisor isn’t taking your concerns seriously, we encourage you to reach out to the appropriate supports at your organization, like your RBT Requirements Coordinator.

Scenario: You waited too long to renew your certification, and the deadline passed.

Solution: We understand that things can get hectic in service-delivery settings, making it easy to miss your renewal date. That’s why we have a 30-day reinstatement period, which gives you an extra 30 days after your certification expiration date to submit and pay for your application.

Guidance for those who missed their recertification date infographic

If you’ve already applied for renewal and are waiting to hear back, take a look at the Application Processing Updates web page and the RBT Renewal Steps infographic.

Scenario: You’re struggling with your supervisory relationship.

Two people are having a conversation. A speech bubble between them has a contented smiley face inside.

Solution: Your supervisor is there to help shape your professional skills, so having a positive relationship with them is important. If you want to talk to your supervisor about something but don’t know how, ask a trusted colleague for guidance. Consider role-playing the conversation. If you don’t think you can fix the issue with one-on-one communication, you should use the appropriate chain of command at your organization, just as you would for any other workplace problem.

Scenario: You think that your supervisor may have violated the Ethics Code for Behavior Analysts.

Solution: This is never an easy situation to navigate, but it’s possible. First, try to communicate with your supervisor directly, as some alleged ethics violations can be chalked up to misunderstandings or solved without BACB intervention. We even have a handy resource to help guide you, the Addressing Potential Ethics Violations with Others podcast episode. However, if you don’t feel comfortable talking about it or the issue persists, you should review the Considerations for Reporting an Alleged Violation Against a BCaBA/BCBA document and the Reporting to the Ethics Department web page. These resources will help you decide whether you should submit a Notice of Alleged Violation.

Scenario: You violated the RBT Code, and/or you’re involved in an ongoing investigation.

Solution: If you violated the RBT Code, you must self-report it to the BACB within 30 days of the event or of becoming aware (e.g., your supervisor identifies a violation and informs you, you receive a Notice of Alleged Violation). The same applies to investigations that involve you.

If you’ve been named in a Notice of Alleged Violation, a few things will happen: Your supervisor will be notified, but as a professional courtesy, you should inform them as soon as you find out. This also gives them the chance to support you along the way. Later, you’ll be given an opportunity to respond to the alleged violation(s). We’ll give you instructions on what to do and how to provide supporting documentation. See the Code-Enforcement Procedures and Responding to Requests web page for details.

Thank you for taking the time to consider these scenarios that you might encounter as an RBT. We hope this blog post gives you all the tools you need to navigate the more complicated parts of your journey. Until next time.

Three people are standing in a line, and the woman in the middle is waving.