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About a month ago, I put on my “recruiter hat” and jumped in to create an “RBT Pipeline Development Program” for a friend (BCBA) who owns a highly ethical, well-run ABA Center in PA. Because of their exceptional work and ability to take on the most challenging cases, they’ve been struggling trying for years to find BTs and RBTs to fill their open caseload.
Prior to starting Special Learning, I owned a retained executive search firm for 10 years. Although the retained search model is very different, the mechanics of sourcing candidates is similar so I decided to see if I could problem-solve a permanent, sustainable solution.
(250 to 300 hours invested)
Sourcing Started 2/22/2022
Prospects Surfaced: 108
KC Prescreened: 36
Submitted to Client: 29 (80.5%)
Contingent Offers Extended**: 24 (82%)
Waiting for Clearances: 16
Went “Missing”: 6
Not Interested: 1
Accepted. Onboarding: 1
** The contingency is on obtaining clearances
(1) Our industry practice of treating BTs/RBTs as expendable has created a culture where job-hopping has become the norm. It is difficult to find RBTs with more than 2 to 3 years of experience with one company.
(2) BTs/RBTs are hyper-fixated on the hourly rate as the primary metric. All other factors like “guaranteed hours,” quality of supervision, professional development opportunities, career path, benefits, company mission, corporate culture, business practices, clinical integrity, client type, work/life balance, and other “soft factors” seem to take a back seat.
Unfortunately, ethical companies that invest extensively in training, supervision, benefits, and offer full-time “guaranteed” hours can’t compete at an hourly rate. Especially since those companies offering higher hourly rates commonly do not offer guaranteed hours and make little provisions for last-minute client cancellations.
So what do BTs/RBTs typically find when they chase the highest hourly rate?
(1) 15% to 30% increase in the hourly rate
(2) Client cancellation risk is absorbed by the RB/RBT so that full-time often ends up being 25 to 30 hours per week, which puts most under the benefits threshold.
(3) Questionable supervision
(4) Little to no continuing education opportunities
(5) Corporate culture that focuses on billable hours vs. quality outcomes
(6) Employers who don’t value contributions of BTs/RBTs
(7) Little to no retention programs to increase job satisfaction and mitigate burnout
So, how have we been successful in sourcing? I’ve been focusing on bringing in new people into our field who are not already jaded and have not yet developed the transient mindset.
There are many aspects to BT/RBT retention. In order to achieve sustainability and reduce turnover, we must develop retention strategies to increase job satisfaction and mitigate burnout. And create a community or BTs/RBTs to foster a sense of belonging.


Parent Waitlist Program


November 02, 2023 | 12pm-1pm PDT

Journey to Independence

Community-based program designed to support families on waitlist

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

Mother Child
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