In this episode, Chief Certification and Learning Officer Dr. Molli Luke and Certification Resource Manager Dr. Sarah Jenkins review upcoming changes to RBT certification requirements and the RBT examination, originally announced in the December 2023 BACB Newsletter. Listen now.
Being an RBT Supervisor can be rewarding. After all, you’re directly impacting someone’s professional development and growth! But the journey of a supervisor isn’t always a straightforward one. This blog post was made to help you navigate the difficult, unexpected parts of being a supervisor, no matter how long you’ve been doing it. Keep reading to learn how to prevent and address these common scenarios.
Scenario: An RBT under your supervision has multiple supervisors and clients at your organization, and they just told you that they didn’t meet the supervision requirements for the month.
How to Prevent It: If you haven’t encountered this scenario yet, that’s great! Here are some tips to continue setting you and your supervisees up for success:
Make sure the RBT supervision structure at your organization is effective. You can start by reviewing the
roles of RBT supervisors in the RBT Handbook. For example, if you don’t have an RBT Requirements Coordinator at your organization, that might be something to consider implementing.
Think about establishing a communication system between the supervisors, coordinators, and managers at your organization. That way, you can work together to ensure that all RBTs are in compliance and all documentation is properly completed and stored.
Clearly communicate to your supervisees how, where, and when they must document their supervision. For example, you could give them a supervision log, show them how to use it, and share tips for remembering to update it after each supervision session.
Become familiar with the
Supervision Checklist for RBTs, and share it with your supervisees. Beyond keeping them organized, it will help them better understand the supervision requirements and encourage them to take ownership of their supervision experience.
How to Address It: As you know, when a certificant doesn’t comply with a BACB requirement—accidentally or otherwise—they must self-report the violation to the BACB. As their supervisor, you can support them through the process. Consider showing them the
Self-Reporting web page, guiding them through the submission process, and helping them gather any documentation they might need. Reassure them that self-reporting doesn’t always lead to consequences like the suspension of their certification. Lastly, make sure they know that they can continue working and representing themself as an RBT while they wait to hear back from us.
Scenario: You just started supervising an RBT who recently left another organization. They need to renew their certification soon, but they just disclosed that they didn’t consistently receive the minimum amount of supervision at the other organization.
How to Prevent It: It’s not uncommon for RBTs to work in multiple service-delivery settings throughout their career, so it’s best to be prepared for scenarios like this. When an RBT first starts at your organization, consider asking them about the supervision they received in previous settings. Taking care to ask this question early on means that important disclosures like this won’t come as a surprise later. We also encourage you to review the
maintenance requirements described in the RBT Handbook together. By putting everything on the table from day one, you can get ahead of misunderstandings, confusion, and accidental noncompliance.
How to Address It: Similar to the previous scenario, the first thing to do is encourage them to
self-report—even if they aren’t currently renewing their certification. Don’t forget to offer your support along the way, and moving forward, make sure that you and the other supervisors at your organization are providing sufficient supervision. One way to offer support is to review the
RBT Supervision Audit Process infographic with them.
If we end up auditing the RBT’s supervision after receiving their report, we will only contact the RBT and the RBT Supervisor(s) and/or RBT Requirements Coordinator on record during the audited time period. If that includes you, check your email regularly, and be prepared to give us information or documentation upon request. If we find that the RBT substantially failed to comply with the requirements and they end up losing their certification, this will take effect the day the audit determination is issued.
Scenario: An RBT under your supervision failed to inform you that their certification expired, and they just billed for services.
How to Prevent It: To get ahead of this scenario, you’ll want to do something that may seem self-explanatory: make sure that every RBT at your organization is on record with their RBT Supervisor(s) and/or RBT Requirements Coordinator. That way, all relevant parties will get the automated renewal reminders that we send via email. Look out for the first notification 45 days before the RBT’s certification expiration date. That being said, the RBT should take responsibility for their own certification, proactively working with you and others on record to meet the maintenance requirements and complete their renewal application on time. You can always help by creating internal deadlines and having regular check-ins. Just make sure to reach out to the RBT as early as possible so that they have enough time to renew.
How to Address It: If the RBT happens to provide and/or bill for services with an expired certification, remind them that they cannot represent themself as an RBT, and they must
self-report the violation to the BACB. Their next step should be alerting your organization and relevant funder(s) to the billing issue. At that point, you could help the behavior technician (i.e., former RBT) find out whether they are still within their 30-day reinstatement period. If they are, they can complete the maintenance requirements, submit their renewal application, and pay all standard and late fees. Just remind them that they cannot provide or bill for services until their RBT certification is reactivated. If they are not within the 30-day reinstatement period, unfortunately, they must meet the then-current eligibility requirements and reapply for certification.
Additional Resources: To give your supervisee more insight into the renewal process, go over the
RBT Renewal Steps infographic together, and answer any questions they might have.
Scenario: An RBT under your supervision had a Notice of Alleged Violation (Notice) filed against them, and they have been given an opportunity to respond (OTR).
How to Prevent It: Ethics, ethics, ethics! To help prevent this scenario from happening, it’s important to make discussions about ethical practices and the
RBT Ethics Code (2.0) an integral part of your organization’s culture, from onboarding to regular meetings and check-ins. Having these conversations often is a great way to ensure that your supervisees feel prepared, supported, and comfortable enough to talk freely about the subject.
How to Address It: Part of your job as a supervisor is to offer support in challenging situations like these, so here are a few things that you can do: You can review the
Code-Enforcement Procedures with the RBT, helping them become familiar with the Notice intake and routing process so that they know what to expect. You can also make sure they fully understand the notification email we sent, which includes important deadlines, consequences for not responding, the OTR form, and guidance on preparing a response.
Additional Resources: Although your number one resource for this scenario is the RBT Ethics Code (2.0), brush up on the
Reporting to the Ethics Department web page for a comprehensive look at the reporting process, considerations, timelines, and much more.
Scenario: An RBT under your supervision just quit without providing notice.
How to Prevent It: Although this scenario is ultimately out of your control, you can lay groundwork early on that will help discourage it. Introduce your supervisees to the
Continuity of Services: Reminders for RBTs document, which was designed to help them navigate changes in their ability to provide services. It highlights the importance of RBTs as service providers and the impact they can have on their clients, both positive and negative, so we suggest reviewing it together as often as you see fit. If you happen to be the one leaving a service-delivery setting, check out its companion resource, the
Continuity of Services toolkit, for guidance on successfully transitioning the cases you manage.
How to Address It: First things first, if you are on record as the RBT’s supervisor or requirements coordinator, remove them from your
BACB account. This releases you from the responsibility to provide oversight for their service delivery and certification moving forward. Your next thought might be to report them to the BACB, but we ask you to consider that not all situations like this are reportable. Although we encourage all certificants to be mindful of their impact on clients when transitioning services, the RBT Ethics Code (2.0) doesn’t specify the when or how. So, make sure to review all relevant resources before making your decision.
Additional Resources: The
March 2023 BACB Newsletter goes into greater detail about what to do when an RBT quits without providing notice. Take a look if you want to learn more.
RBT Supervisors, RBT Requirements Coordinators, and others who oversee or manage RBTs, thank you for taking the time to become familiar with these scenarios. You can never be overprepared! With preparation comes safe practice, adherence to the requirements, and smooth(er) sailing through your journey as a supervisor. Until next time.
In this video, we break down the BACB’s Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) certification, answering what it is and how it’s used. RBT Supervisors, instructors, and trainers can use this video to introduce RBT certification to technicians pursuing RBT certification and clients new to receiving behavior-analytic services.
Join Certification Resource Manager Dr. Sarah Jenkins, Director of Certification Services Rachel Ulrich, and Director of Testing Theresa Bartlett as they break down the RBT application process and examination in this episode of Inside the BACB.
In this episode of Inside the BACB, Certification Resource Manager Dr. Sarah Jenkins and Director of Certification Services Rachel Ulrich sit down to talk about RBT supervision from A to Z, including the importance of ongoing supervision and tracking. Listen now.
In this episode of Inside the BACB, Certification Resource Manager Dr. Sarah Jenkins and Director of Ethics Dr. Holly Seniuk discuss the ethical responsibilities of having an RBT certification. Listen now.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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
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.
Scenario: You’re struggling with your supervisory relationship.
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 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.
Nearly half of all recently certified BCBAs and BCaBAs were RBTs when they applied. What does that tell us? For many, becoming an RBT is the first step on a journey toward BCBA or BCaBA certification. Knowing this, we’d like to answer some frequently asked questions about accruing supervised fieldwork for BCBA or BCaBA certification as an RBT.
Before we get started, let’s define supervised fieldwork.
It’s almost (but not quite) self-explanatory. Supervised fieldwork is our term for the time you spend providing applied behavior analysis (ABA) services under a qualified supervisor toward BCBA or BCaBA certification. It’s one of our most important eligibility requirements because it helps trainees develop the skills they need to demonstrate competence in ABA and work effectively with clients, their support systems, and others. Now, we can jump right in.
1. Can I accrue supervised fieldwork while I’m an RBT?
A. Yes, but only if you meet the maintenance requirements for your RBT certification, including ongoing supervision, as well as the supervised fieldwork requirements for BCBA or BCaBA certification (see the Supervised Fieldwork Requirements section of the BCBA or BCaBA Handbook).
2. Are the requirements for ongoing RBT supervision and supervised fieldwork the same?
A. No. The minimum requirements per supervisory period differ as shown in the following table:
Concentrated Supervised Fieldwork
Percentage of hours supervised per month
Real-time, face-to-face contacts per month
Individual supervision per month
50% of supervised hours
Observations of trainee/supervisee providing services with client per month
3. Can I count the hours I spend delivering behavior-analytic services as an RBT toward supervised fieldwork?
A. In the right circumstances, yes. The thing to remember is that most of the time, RBTs take part in restricted activities. Here’s a refresher on the supervised fieldwork activities:
Restricted activities are those involved in the delivery of behavior-analytic services to a client. They should make up no more than 40% of your fieldwork hours for BCBA certification and no more than 60% of your fieldwork hours for BCaBA certification. Examples include implementing therapeutic and instructional procedures directly with a client.
Unrestricted activities are those that support and inform the delivery of behavior-analytic services. These activities are commonly completed by BCBAs and BCaBAs. Examples include conducting behavior assessments, writing and revising behavior programs, analyzing data, and training caregivers and staff.
To get the most out of supervised fieldwork and properly balance restricted and unrestricted activities, talk to your supervisor about your professional goals. This opens the door for you to discuss the experiences and hours you’ll need, why those experiences are important, and how you’ll manage your responsibilities as an RBT and a BCBA or BCaBA trainee.
An important thing to consider is that some of the hours you accrue as an RBT will not count toward supervised fieldwork, and that’s okay! Fieldwork isn’t just about checking boxes—it’s about making strides in your professional development. Your activities as an RBT are designed to help your clients progress toward their goals, and fieldwork is designed to teach you the skills necessary to work as a behavior analyst or assistant behavior analyst in the future.
4. Can I count the hours I spend receiving supervision as an RBT toward supervised fieldwork?
A. Yes, but probably not all of them. Why? The activities and topics that come up during a supervision meeting about your fieldwork are likely different and more advanced than those that come up during your ongoing supervision as an RBT. This is another great time to collaborate with your supervisor. Together, you can choose activities and topics that will also meet the supervised fieldwork requirements (see also Question 3).
If you take anything away from this answer, let it be that you and your supervisor are a team—and you should make the most of that. When you’re a BCBA or BCaBA, you’ll have more responsibilities and work more independently. So, while you still have a professional safety net, take the time to experience new things and develop your skills. That way, you’ll be fully prepared for whatever lies ahead.
Remember: While working as an RBT, it may be tempting to count as many hours as possible toward BCBA or BCaBA certification. However, the true purpose of fieldwork is to thoroughly prepare you for your new role, which will come from acquiring hours in different settings with different supervisors. In other words, choose quality over quantity. After all, you only get your foundational training once in your life.
5. Can I document supervised fieldwork in the same way that I document ongoing supervision as an RBT?
A. No. Although your documents and documentation systems might be similar, they can’t be the same because the requirements differ. For example, you need to keep a summary of each supervision activity for supervised fieldwork, but you don’t need to keep one for ongoing RBT supervision.
Once you’re ready to accrue supervised fieldwork, talk to your supervisor about proper documentation. Then, before each supervision session, identify the topics and activities they’ll cover so that you know which set of documentation requirements to meet.
6. Can my RBT Supervisor also provide supervised fieldwork?
A. Yes, but only if your supervisor meets both sets of requirements. To ensure that all trainees get the instruction and support they need, supervisors must meet specialized requirements as shown in the Additional Requirements by Role table in the BCBA Handbook.
The easiest way to get an answer is to ask your supervisor if they meet the requirements to supervise fieldwork. You can also verify their eligibility by searching their name in the BACB Certificant Registry, but remember—especially as an aspiring BCBA or BCaBA, you want a supervisor who can give you the best information and learning opportunities possible. So, even if they’re qualified on paper, make sure they’re the right fit for your professional-development goals.
Lastly, don’t forget: For supervised fieldwork, you must have a supervision contract in place with each supervisor. The good news is that they’ll help you develop a contract once you agree to work with them. Before then, check out this Sample Supervision Contract for reference.
7. Which ethics code do I follow?
A. As you already know, RBTs must be familiar with and adhere to the RBT Ethics Code (2.0). You’ll also become familiar with the Ethics Code for Behavior Analysts during your coursework, and you must comply with it during supervised fieldwork. Again, we suggest working with your supervisor to best understand what’s expected of you. They’ll help you navigate which code is applicable to the role you’re in at any given time.
Do you feel more prepared to take this next step in your career? We hope so! We can’t overstate how important supervised fieldwork is for gaining the necessary skills you’ll need as a BCBA or BCaBA, so make the most of it. Enjoy this time of guided practice and close supervision before your role changes from behavior technician to behavior analyst or assistant behavior analyst.
If you don’t know where to go from here, check out these resources to get started: