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The goal of the RBT Pipeline Development Program is to match ethical ABA Organizations with ethical, experienced, career-minded RBTs and BTs interested in staying with the same organization for 2 or more years. My criteria was 3 or more years before I started my search and realized this was unrealistic.

Since the field of ABA has more than 120K RBTs and possibly an equivalent number of BTs, my original thought was that the difficulty would be in finding ethical ABA Organizations, not career-minded RBTs. I was completely wrong. Finding career-minded RBTs is like a needle in a haystack exercise.

Since this was a new program, I decided to do the recruiting myself to learn about the dynamics of recruiting RBTs and RBT candidates so I fully immersed myself in the sourcing process and have been talking to many, many people.

These are my finding:

(1) The nature of the RBT job is a very transient one.
(2) The average tenure of an RBT with one company is less than 12 months.
(3) Most RBTs job hop from one organization to the next. It literally looks like a ping pong ball.
(4) RBTs are willing to entertain new opportunities because they work for companies that promised them full-time hours but are only providing part-time hours.
(5) The few people I’ve found with longevity are seeking because their company was bought out by a PE-backed company and the business changed.
(6) RBTs who are being paid $25 to $35 dollars per hour are making SUBSTANTIALLY less annually.
(7) Many RBTs have Master’s degrees in related fields but are not seeking to become BCBAs. Yet they’re making less than $35K per year.
(8) Many RBTs have left the field. I’m not having much luck trying to convince them to come back to the field.
(9) Many would jump at the chance to work as salaried employees but those jobs are nearly impossible to find.
(10) About 20% to 30% of RBTs are in the process of becoming BCBAs

So, where are we? In 2 weeks, we have been able to find and present 20 qualified RBTs and prospective RBTs (meaning people who are interested in becoming an RBT) for our client.

Unfortunately, my definition of “qualified” is very, very loose as my original criteria of a minimum of 3 to 5 years of experience and an average tenure of more than 2 years with one company appears to be completely unrealistic.

In conclusion, the RBT Pipeline Model works but we have a bigger mess on our hands with RBT Turnover than I could have possibly anticipated.

One thing that’s clear… there is very little loyalty among RBTs/BTs to employers. But based upon current business practice, there is no reason for BTs/RBTs to be loyal. Some BTs/RBTs have mastered the art of using Job Offers to shop themselves around.

Where do we start? The only permanent solution is to hire RBTs as salaried staff but we can start by offering guaranteed hours. If we can offer job security and build confidence among BT/RBTs we can begin to reduce turnover.

Being an RBT for me was extremely fun because where were you going to find a place where you can be completely silly without having to worry what people thought about you? This was the only job that made me feel like I could make a dramatic difference while being myself.

I also liked to be surrounded by people that had the same goals of wanting to help kids and the teamwork made the job much easier and more enjoyable.

Change and progress was the ultimate goal for our kiddos. The early intervention program was seriously only a miracle because I saw changes in the kiddos that from day one, you wouldn’t even recognize who they were.

Changes from being able to utter 3-4 words where they can only make a syllable from when they started, the behavior decreases in which kiddo that used to engage in 30-40 0 self-harm to only half, learning how to wait during games, table work where they use to swipe and drop to the floor if they had to.

My favorite was when the parents would tell us what amazing progress they were making at home. I used to tear up and felt for these parents so much because it was already difficult for them and now, they can trust and rely on ABA and the therapists knowing their goal was ours.

By Emma Rogers, BA, RBT

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