When a part-time job feeds a passion and prepares for a career
February 17, 2022 - MacKenzie Hall
Hannah Martin, a senior psychology and business administration/management double major from Conway, Ark., always knew she wanted to serve the special needs community. Becoming a registered behavior technician (RBT) as a part-time job while pursuing her undergraduate degree provided her the opportunity to do just this.
An RBT assists clients in daily activities, monitors client behavior, collects data on client progress and implements behavior reduction plans. They work with a supervising Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) to implement plans that utilize applied behavior analysis (ABA), a leading treatment for autism.
“All RBTs provide behavioral assistance to clients. The variety within the field is the age of clients you assist. Age ranges include children, teenagers, young adults and elderly,” Martin said. “I specifically assist children with special needs who are between four and seven years old; not every RBT must serve children with special needs as a client.”
During her sophomore year at Ouachita, Martin began working at Pediatrics Plus, an alumni-owned clinic that offers specialized therapy services for children.
“Pediatrics Plus has given me so much experience working alongside children with special needs. The company has poured into me as both a therapist and a teacher to be excellent in all I do,” Martin added.
Becoming an RBT requires taking 40 hours of online training, acquiring observation hours and passing an examination. Although this might seem like several hoops to jump through, Martin said it’s not a task to be intimidated by.
“I would say if you have decent study skills, you would be able to pass and become licensed with no problem,” Martin said.
For RBTs, the certification pays off as it provides a unique opportunity to invest in the lives of children and families and also offers entry to a field with opportunity for rapid advancement.
After getting her feet wet as an RBT, Martin became interested in pursuing graduate studies in part because a master’s degree in applied behavior analysis opens new doors for her career.
“It brings a lot of opportunities for leadership because after receiving a master’s degree, you can become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst,” Martin said, adding that a major factor is that it’s a “financially stable career path” that’s in high demand.
Martin plans to join Ouachita’s next cohort of ABA graduate students due not only to her undergraduate experience at the university but also unique aspects of the graduate program itself that fit her needs, including a partnership with her current employer for clinical placements.
“I chose Ouachita’s graduate program because it is online, which allows me to move wherever I prefer,” Martin said. “This program also partners with Pediatrics Plus specifically in producing BCBAs. Ouachita has been such a blessing in my life, so staying an extra year and a half to get my master’s degree sounds great to me.”
For more information about Ouachita’s master’s program in applied behavior analysis, visit obu.edu/aba.
Photo by Levi Dade
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