As someone who has the privilege of recruiting and hiring from this current generation, it has become a recurring theme to see that many of the recent (and not-so-recent) college grads currently seeking employment are looking for more than just a foundation on which to build an “American Dream”. The idea of working a “9 to 5” to pay the bills is less attractive and the idea of “doing something that matters” seems to resonate more and more.
Personally, I found myself in this same position just a few short years ago. The bills were getting paid and had time for my interests, but something was missing. The word “legacy” began to come up in my life and I couldn’t pin down anything in my life that would outlast me. It was around this time that a friend referred me to an ABA company where I received training and became an RBT and have never looked back.
The human services field, specifically those working with special needs populations, has steady need for passionate and caring professionals. Furthermore, the teaching methods and modalities being used are growing and evolving. The value of new teaching methods is being seen more as our classrooms become increasingly diverse. Though Applied Behavior Analysis is often thought of as a primarily therapeutic modality some schools are now trying to hire their own BCBAs or put their staff through the RBT courses. They’re having paras and teachers use the methods of ABA while instructing in their more traditional academic setting.
In summation, ABA is a growing and exciting field, but is it a good next step for you? Would you enjoy being an RBT or would it simply be another job? I hope to be able to answer these questions for you in the next few paragraphs.
What is ABA and why do we do it?
To begin, what is ABA? ABA is a science that was created to influence socially significant behavior and develop techniques that bring about behavior change. Techniques and strategies are put in place, and tailored to each individual, to reduce maladaptive behaviors and increase adaptive behaviors while increasing independence, functional skills, and communication skills.
ABA is also the primary modality being used to affect positive change in the lives of those affected by Autism. Autism diagnosis rates continue to rise  and with it the need for ABA services increase.
As many families receive this diagnosis they begin seeking resources and services that will help their child acquire the skills they will need to live a full and independent life . Unfortunately, these resources are not always readily available and too often, children end up waiting, as a name on a wait list, while they age out of the incredibly important "early intervention" age . The strain on the family during this time can be nerve-wracking and a feeling of desperation is unfortunately common.
When given an opportunity to work with any individual on the spectrum, we have an opportunity to change the lives of everyone who interacts with that individual. When a child we work with learns a better way to communicate frustration or to cope with denial, we have caused a positive change in their life, yes, but also Mom’s, Dad’s, sibling’s, grandparent’s, and the lives of whomever else this child encounters. We don’t just get to change the world, we get to change worlds.
Besides, one of the tenets of ABA asserts the value of building rapport with those to whom we provide services. In short, we get to spend our time at “work” playing with kids! It’s a fantastic benefit.
Can I grow?
A sense of accomplishment and helping one’s fellow man is a great thing to take home at the end of the day, but unfortunately, it doesn’t pay the bills. That leaves the question many of us asking ourselves when embarking into a new field, “Can I grow in this field?” The answer, in short, is "definitely"!
As previously stated, autism rates are growing, and the need for good Behavior Analysts grows as well. Also, there are uses for ABA in addition to working with the ASD population [4}. The use of ABA is becoming more common in school and daycare settings. These methods could also be very effective paired with Occupational therapy, animal behavior consulting, and Social work just to name a few. There are other opportunities to aid in clinical research that could grow the science of ABA itself .
In the field of direct 1:1 work there is growth as well. Many RBT’s discover a passion for ABA and pursue their Board-Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) credential so they can begin working with clients of their own. BCBA’s can be their own boss or join one of the many ABA companies in the country.
Here at Keystone Achievements, growth and success for our staff is just as important as it is with our students. Our RBT’s are frequently part of the assessment and initial introduction process for our students. They gain experience working with parents and BCBA’s to create goals and programming for our students. Staff with leadership and training passion are used as trainers and coaches for new RBT’s. Those that are seeking a career path other than ABA are developed and coached to be a team mate and professional that any company would be proud to have on staff.
As time goes on, Applied Behavior Analysis will undoubtedly grow and continue to evolve. Those of us lucky enough to be in this field will see countless victories and successes with those we serve and continue to enjoy a sense of fulfillment and accomplishment at the end of the day. The question remains, is this a field for you? I will end with 1 question that might help clarify that.
Ready to take the next step? View the RBT requirements here . You can also email Keystone Achievements to see if our training environment might be a good fit for you or find an ABA provider in your area.
| Michael Page. (2017). The 5 Things Millennials Look For In A Job. Michael Page. Retrieved July 12, 2018, from https://www.michaelpage.com/advice/management-advice/development-and-retention/5-things-millennials-look-job.
 C. (2018). Data & Statistics. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved July 12, 2018, from https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/data.html.
 Goode, S., Diefendorf, M., & Colgan, S. (2011). The Importance of Early Intervention for Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities and their Families. The National Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center. Retrieved July 12, 2018, from http://www.nectac.org/~pdfs/pubs/importanceofearlyintervention.pdf
 10 Things You Can Do with an ABA Degree Other Than Work with Kids with ASD. (n.d.). AppliedBehavioralAnalysisedu.org. Retrieved July 12, 2018, from https://www.appliedbehavioranalysisedu.org/10-things-you-can-do-with-an-aba-degree-other-than-work-with-kids-with-asd/.