Become an RBT: Choose the Best 40-Hour Course for You!

If you’ve decided to become a Registered Behavior Technician you are probably familiar with the 40-hour course requirement. But with so many options available how do you know which one is right for you?

We have taken a close look at the options available to meet the 40-hour course required by the BACB. What was most surprising was how different they all are. The Autism Partnership Foundation offers a free course that meets the minimum requirements but may not prepare students adequately for the exam. The Verbal Behavior Institute is a better option, but is best for students who are teachers or plan to work in a classroom environment. The Autism Therapy Career College is the most expensive on our list, but is most likely to prepare students for working as an RBT in the field of ABA.

The style and delivery method for each training is drastically different, as is the cost. All of the options we’ll discuss here are good in their own way. Key factors we’ll compare to help determine the best course for you are:

  1. Cost
  2. Presentation style
  3. Whether the course is interactive
  4. What types of examples are used most often
Course OfferingCostPresentation StyleInteractive?Types of ExamplesBest Audience
Autism Partnership Foundation (APF)FreeOnline only
PowerPoint with recording of live presentation
NoABA therapy centerCandidates on a budget or who want to supplement other learning
Verbal Behavior Institute (VBI)$99Online only
Video of instructor
Personal, less professional
NoClassroomTeachers and professionals seeking to work in a school environment
Autism Therapy Career College (ATCC)$29/week
$1499 for Full RBT Certification (not offered through other options)
Online only
Voice over PowerPoint
Professional, not personal
Yes, has interactive elements to click during the presentationABA therapy centerCandidates who wish to complete their coursework quickly. Students who want to be guided through the entire process can opt for the Full Certification Program.

How to Determine the Best 40-Hour Training for You

The best course for you will depend on a number of factors including your:

  • Professional goals
  • Learning style
  • Availability
  • Budget

If you’re on a tight budget and are looking for an entry-level position where you’ll get a lot of guidance from your employer, then the free course through the Autism Partnership Foundation is a good place to start. But if you have the money to invest, want to be guided through the whole process, meet 1-on-1 with a BCBA to ask questions and connect with other RBT candidates then the Full RBT Certification through the Autism Therapy Career College is your best choice. Alternatively, if you’re a teacher or working in a school and are looking to get your RBT certification to help you in your classroom and advance your career, then the training through the Verbal Behavior Institute is a good fit because so many of the examples demonstrate how to use the skills in the classroom.

Let’s look at each of the options in more depth.

Autism Partnership Foundation (APF)

The Autism Partnership Foundation offers the only completely free course you’ll find to meet the 40-hour training required by the BACB. But there’s a reason this course is free.

The Autism Partnership Foundation is a non profit organization whose mission is “Advancing effective methodology and behavior analytic treatment to improve outcomes of individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder.” They do this by providing training in the field of ABA.

This organization has a clear vision of how ABA should be implemented and they use their training, particularly their free 40-hour RBT training as a way to share their vision. In their marketing video they promote their “extra” content in the training as going beyond what the BACB requires for certification, however what this actually does is take time away from teaching the items that are on the task list.

When we took their training we were shocked at how much training time was used to promote what they call the “Autism Partnership Method” or “Progressive ABA.” Although we didn’t disagree with much of what they’re teaching, it certainly isn’t the best training to prepare you for the RBT exam, and often the message they’re sharing about how the field of ABA needs to change is something an RBT will have little to no influence in changing, especially when they’re just starting out.

In their marketing video they also sound shocked that anyone would charge for access to training. However it takes time and money to create a quality training program and it’s unreasonable to expect anyone to provide training without recouping that investment. The Autism Partnership Foundation charges for all their other courses. There’s a reason this one is free.

The training itself is a recording of an in-person training they offered. The video shows both the speaker and the PowerPoint presentation:

They are very clear about which topics are on the BACB task list and which are part of what they call the Autism Partnership Method. But this also makes it obvious how much of the presentation is dedicated to their own topics.

Find more information on our post Can You Get the 40-Hour RBT Training for Free? or watch our video review:

Who Should Take the Training

Sign UpTry Something Different
You can’t afford other training optionsYou have at least $99 you can invest in a different training
You want to take this training in addition to other trainingYou are looking for a training focused on the RBT task list and what the BACB expects you to learn
You feel confident in passing the exam even if much of the training is focused on topics not on the task listYou don’t learn well from lectures
You are researching perspectives on the field of ABAYou don’t have at least 2 hour blocks to commit to training

Verbal Behavior Institute

The Verbal Behavior Institute was the mid-priced training that we examined. At $99 for the complete training this option is affordable for most candidates seeking certification as a Registered Behavior Technician.

We discovered that there is no information available on the instructors (and therefore no way to verify that the training is actually accredited by the BACB) until you purchase the training. This information should be visible before you buy the training, but we have verified this for you.

The lead instructor is Vivian Attanasio from New Jersey and we were able to find her in the BACB Certificant Registry:

What We Like about the Training through the Verbal Behavior Institute

The videos can be watched in any order and you can easily stop and start when you need to – a feature sorely missing in the free training.

The navigation was easy to follow and you can clearly see which lessons you’ve completed, which you’ve started and how much you have left to complete.

She provides every presentation in both PowerPoint and PDF formats.

The Exam Prep section of the training makes it easy for students to practice for their exam.

Why the Training through the Verbal Behavior Institute Might Not Be the Best

Although there is nothing wrong or bad about the training offered through the Verbal Behavior Institute it might not be a good fit for everyone.

The format never varies – it’s a video of the instructor with a PowerPoint for the entire 40 hours. While they do ask questions in the presentations there’s no true interaction with the lessons, and for the most part they don’t pause long enough in their lecture to allow you to think of the answer to the question before they provide it to you. If you want a more interactive training this one isn’t for you.

It also isn’t professionally produced. While many students will be fine with the quality of the video, others might prefer a more polished, professional presentation of the material.

There are plenty of real-world examples in the training, but the majority of these take place in a classroom setting. If you plan to work in a school, then these examples are highly relevant, however if you plan to do home or clinic-based services these examples might not be the best for you.

Find more information on our post Verbal Behavior Institute (VBI): 40-Hour RBT Training or watch our video review:

Sign UpTry Something Different
You can’t afford other training optionsYou have at least $99 you can invest in a different training
You want to take this training in addition to other trainingYou are looking for a training focused on the RBT task list and what the BACB expects you to learn
You feel confident in passing the exam even if much of the training is focused on topics not on the task listYou don’t learn well from lectures
You are researching perspectives on the field of ABAYou don’t have at least 2 hour blocks to commit to training

Autism Therapy Career College

The Autism Therapy Career College (ATCC) offer two options for taking the 40-hour RBT training. Students can opt to pay weekly for access to just the 40-hour training, or you can choose to enroll in the Full RBT Certification program which will give you everything you need – and more – to successfully receive your certification.

If you’re able to complete the course in under 2 weeks, this option ends up being less expensive than the one offered through the Verbal Behavior Institute. But know that if you fail to meet this goal it could end up costing more than you planned.

OptionsCostBenefitsBest Audience
40-hour RBT Training$29/weekHigh-quality training for less
Complete your training quickly
The faster you finish the less you pay
Candidates who will have their competency assessment completed through their employer
RBT Competency Assessment$549Qualified BCBAs are ready and available to guide you through the competency assessmentCandidates who have already taken the 40-hour training and need a BCBA to complete the competency assessment
Full RBT Certification$1,499Complete the entire process in as little as 60 days
Everything you need – and more – to become certified
Candidates who want guidance and support through the entire process. Students who want 1-on-1 personal attention and interaction with other ABA professionals.

What We Liked about the Training through the Autism Therapy Career College

The training itself was created by Relias – one of the top training organizations in the field. The course is thorough and focused on what the BACB wants you to know. It is one of the best options available to prepare you for the exam.

Like the Verbal Behavior Institute, the videos can be watched in any order and you can start and stop them so that the training fits in your schedule. This training however has been professionally produced – and it shows.

The examples generally prepare students to work as an RBT in any setting. They focus on how an RBT should respond to a variety of behaviors that they could encounter anywhere.

We feel that this option is the best one to prepare you to not only take the exam, but also begin your career.

Why You Should Consider a Different Option

If you’re on a strict budget and you’re not sure you’ll be disciplined enough to finish the course in your target timeline then paying by the week might not be a good option for you. You might be better off with the training offered through the Verbal Behavior Institute or something else entirely.

Not everyone will want the level of interaction required in this training, since some of the interaction is to ensure you’re paying attention for the full 40 hours. Depending on your personal learning style you may prefer to watch videos like in the Autism Partnership Foundation and Verbal Behavior Institute trainings.

While some people will love the perfectly executed training, others might find the monotone of the speakers to be robotic and not personal enough for their tastes.

For more information read our post Autism Therapy Career College: Online RBT Training or watch our video:

Sign UpTry Something Else
You need motivation to complete the coursework quicklyYou’re on a budget and can’t afford to continue the course if it’s not completed as expected
You like the type of narration in the example aboveYou prefer a more personal approach to the course*
You can afford to continue the course if it’s not complete in the time frame you expectYou don’t plan to work in a typical ABA setting (for example, a teacher who will be working in a classroom)

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