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slarsen2

I need some advice regarding ABA.

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TLDR; RBT now or wait till I graduate college? 

I am applying to graduate school this upcoming fall. I do not have a competitive GPA: 3.55.

My college doesn't offer in-major classes until we are seniors, so I have no "major" GPA yet. I will take the GRE this summer.

I work as a student library assistant on my campus, I do paid research with the College of Communication/Journalism, I do voluntary research for the Speech Pathology graduate department, I volunteer at an Early Intervention pediatric language clinic, and I am a management intern at our cities' new Autism center, where I write posts, send emails, play with children with ASD, and interact with adults with ASD. 

Still, I know my GPA isn't good enough. It will hopefully be around a 3.6 when I begin applying for grad schools. I am really interested in working with children with ASD if I am able to go to grad school, and I plan to write about this in my statement of purpose. This is where my question comes up: Is it worth it to become a Registered Behavior Technician, or wait until I graduate college and try for a BCABA? I guess what I am asking is if it would be worth the training, time, and money. How much do current RBTs get to do while still in college? Do grad schools consider this a worthwhile certification to pursue? 

I would love to hear some current RBTs or BCABAs speak on their experiences in school or otherwise. Thank you SO much. 

Edited by slarsen2

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Hi!! 

This was my second year applying and long story short. The first time around I only had a couple of experiences on my resume. NHSLA, volunteered at an autism clinic and aided at a preschool. My cumulative GPA is a 3.3. So low I know, but it took me awhile and a couple changes in my major do decide what I wanted to do career wise. I knew SLP was the road I wanted to take so I didn't give up. I heard about The RBT credential and decided to give it a try. WOW. Is all I can say. Not only did I get into grad school this second time around ( I believe having this credential and being able to speak on its behalf in my personal statement really really helped) but the experience I have received working in the ABA field has completely changed my mind about the population I want to work with after grad school. It sounds like you already have your mind made up about the population you want to work with and that's awesome, but I can't even express how amazing the experience has been. If you choose to pursue this route I hope you have wonderful supervisor like I did. I would have enjoyed getting my BCABa but I know the language part is what I am most interested in. All in all, getting your RBT certification looks pretty good on a resume. Keep in mind it is not a difficult certification to obtain and many more people are becoming aware of the option, however, obtain the certificate, work a lot of hours and get as many clients as possible and write an amazing personal statement that will knock the grad schools socks off. That's just my opinion, but the only thing I changed from last years application to this years was getting that credential and I applied to most of the same schools. Good luck!!! 

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6 hours ago, slarsen2 said:

I am applying to graduate school this upcoming fall. I do not have a competitive GPA: 3.55.

Since when is a 3.55 not a competitive GPA? 

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8 hours ago, blc073 said:Since when is a 3.55 not a competitive GPA? 

In the SLP/A field a 3.5 isn't considered competitive. Although I have no authority on the matter, I'd say a 3.7 would be considered competitive. Speech Pathology graduate school is extremely competitive, 300-400 applications for 20-30 positions is typical. This was record year for applicants as well. I don't mean to be belittling or anything, I just noticed you're in a different field and I'm not sure if you're familiar with speech =)

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At my daughter's ABA agency, all new hires start out as behavior interventionists regardless of whether they have a bachelor's or are still working on it. It does take passing the BCaBA exam to become a lead interventionist on a team but it also takes a certain amount of experience as a BI. It's not like you can skip the entry-level position.

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4 hours ago, s4mm1 said:

In the SLP/A field a 3.5 isn't considered competitive. Although I have no authority on the matter, I'd say a 3.7 would be considered competitive. Speech Pathology graduate school is extremely competitive, 300-400 applications for 20-30 positions is typical. This was record year for applicants as well. I don't mean to be belittling or anything, I just noticed you're in a different field and I'm not sure if you're familiar with speech =)

You're right, I don't know. I am just always shocked when a field focuses on GPA so much. In my field, there will around 1000 applications for five or so spots, but a 3.5 GPA is fine as long as you have experience in the field and LORs to support your experience.

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42 minutes ago, blc073 said:

You're right, I don't know. I am just always shocked when a field focuses on GPA so much. In my field, there will around 1000 applications for five or so spots, but a 3.5 GPA is fine as long as you have experience in the field and LORs to support your experience.

A masters is the entry level degree in our field, so I guess they supplement the work experience for GPA. 

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You have something to put on your resume already. I would spend your time studying for the GRE this summer versus getting a job. Strong GRE scores would offset a 3.55/3.6 GPA a lot more than a few lines on a resume when you already have experience with ASD kids. 

Plus- as Crimson Wife stated- you start out in an entry position, and would probably not be eligible to take the exam until apps were already due. 

I would definitely focus on scores more than resume at this point. After the summer, post GRE, have you thought about quitting your library position (unless it is work study or something)? I think paid work experience with kids would look great to future employers, and be a stepping stone if you took a gap year. 

Reasoning: If you only have time to study and scores 145's, your chances of getting into a program are lower...even with an awesome resume. If you score 155/160, and keep your current resume...well, you have strong scores, and experience! Finally- the likelihood of you having enough experience to talk about ABA in a personal statement, or get a letter of rec from someone you have known for 6-7 weeks doesn't seem beneficial. 

 

 

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2 hours ago, jmk said:

You have something to put on your resume already. I would spend your time studying for the GRE this summer versus getting a job. Strong GRE scores would offset a 3.55/3.6 GPA a lot more than a few lines on a resume when you already have experience with ASD kids. 

Plus- as Crimson Wife stated- you start out in an entry position, and would probably not be eligible to take the exam until apps were already due. 

I would definitely focus on scores more than resume at this point. After the summer, post GRE, have you thought about quitting your library position (unless it is work study or something)? I think paid work experience with kids would look great to future employers, and be a stepping stone if you took a gap year. 

Reasoning: If you only have time to study and scores 145's, your chances of getting into a program are lower...even with an awesome resume. If you score 155/160, and keep your current resume...well, you have strong scores, and experience! Finally- the likelihood of you having enough experience to talk about ABA in a personal statement, or get a letter of rec from someone you have known for 6-7 weeks doesn't seem beneficial. 

 

 

Yeah, I have thought a lot about this. However, my library position is work study and is also incredibly flexible... work study and flexible don't really coexist at my school. I see both sides to the coin here and agree that really focusing on scores is the best thing I can do. Putting into perspective the lack of experience I would be able to really include on a personal statement is a valid point I had not thought about. I think I will wait until I graduate and then begin pursing certification if I don't get into grad school like you said. We will see what my GRE score is though.... I took a practice test and my Math was 150 and Verbal 160. (Yep, I have magoosh for math now.) 

 

Thank you for such great perspective!

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16 hours ago, AspiringSLP2be said:

Hi!! 

This was my second year applying and long story short. The first time around I only had a couple of experiences on my resume. NHSLA, volunteered at an autism clinic and aided at a preschool. My cumulative GPA is a 3.3. So low I know, but it took me awhile and a couple changes in my major do decide what I wanted to do career wise. I knew SLP was the road I wanted to take so I didn't give up. I heard about The RBT credential and decided to give it a try. WOW. Is all I can say. Not only did I get into grad school this second time around ( I believe having this credential and being able to speak on its behalf in my personal statement really really helped) but the experience I have received working in the ABA field has completely changed my mind about the population I want to work with after grad school. It sounds like you already have your mind made up about the population you want to work with and that's awesome, but I can't even express how amazing the experience has been. If you choose to pursue this route I hope you have wonderful supervisor like I did. I would have enjoyed getting my BCABa but I know the language part is what I am most interested in. All in all, getting your RBT certification looks pretty good on a resume. Keep in mind it is not a difficult certification to obtain and many more people are becoming aware of the option, however, obtain the certificate, work a lot of hours and get as many clients as possible and write an amazing personal statement that will knock the grad schools socks off. That's just my opinion, but the only thing I changed from last years application to this years was getting that credential and I applied to most of the same schools. Good luck!!! 

Thank you for such a personal, detailed response! I think that the best thing for me to do is wait until I graduate whether I get into grad school or not. If I do, it is just more experience in something I enjoy, and if I don't, hopefully I can have an experience like yours. I am so glad you are doing well from your hard work in the field I am interested in, this is very inspiring. 

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I wouldn't bother getting RBT certified unless it would give you a pay-increase at your job. 

Like AspiringSLP2be said, it's nice to have on your resume but it's just a title - it doesn't define your actual skills aside from the fact that you completed the hours and passed an exam for the certificate. 

I'm not RBT certified and I have been an ABA therapist for a year and a half now. It doesn't make me any less of a therapist compared to someone who is certified. If my job offered to pay me more for the certificate, I would do it. The amount of knowledge and experience you get as an ABA therapist will definitely change the way you view the field.

At the end of it, I really think it matters on your experiences and how you express them in your SOP, not just the title. 

 

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I'm a BI (behavior interventionist, not RBT certified yet) but to me the RBT certification only matters if you plan on doing this job long-term.  I would highly recommend this job because personally, I get tons of experience working with different kids and families  of different ages (and different goals to work on) and I feel confident that this experience will give me lots to write about in my SOP. 

From my understanding (ABA companies in California), Behavior Intervention/ABA intervention is sort of entry level and requires a Bachelors Degree or in route of one, courses related to psychology or social sciences, and past experience with ASD is highly preferred. I went through a 40 hour online training and a 10 hour in person training that consisted of "overlapping"/ observing sessions, and hands on training. Most of the cases in my area are through the regional center which doesn't require the RBT certification, but if a case in my area did and I had availability to work it, I would be offered the RBT credential. The pay is anywhere from 12-20 dollars an hour (based on education and experience). Hours are very flexible, my company worked with my schedule when I was a senior in college and now offered me more hours after graduation. 

 

I don't plan on doing this forever but I truly do believe it's great related experience to the SLP field. With some of my kiddos, we practice verbal imitation, recognizing emotions, turn taking, sustaining conversations and keeping on topic, full sentences, PECs (picture exchange communication), and many other programs related to speech and communication. 

 

Also, It can serve as a back up plan in case you don't get into programs first hand or change your mind about the SLP field because most companies (like mine) offer career advancement and training for higher positions ( ABA supervisor, training, office management ). All of my supervisors started off as BI's and some office management did as well. 

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@BN3313 Thanks for posting your experience! That is great information to consider. What company do you work for as a BI in San Diego? 

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I have researched this forwards and backwards and yet I still do not understand the differences between getting an Advanced Cert. in ABA vs becoming an ABA Therapist/ BI. Would someone please care to explain? Because I planned on getting my Advanced Cert. in ABA as a backup if I am not accepted into a program (hopefully that won't happen :( ) - but it seems like from what was said, I may not be able to become a BCBA without a masters degree? Please help me out here..

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50 minutes ago, SpeechLaedy said:

I have researched this forwards and backwards and yet I still do not understand the differences between getting an Advanced Cert. in ABA vs becoming an ABA Therapist/ BI. Would someone please care to explain? Because I planned on getting my Advanced Cert. in ABA as a backup if I am not accepted into a program (hopefully that won't happen :( ) - but it seems like from what was said, I may not be able to become a BCBA without a masters degree? Please help me out here..

Okay so here it goes:

You can just become an ABA therapist. I got hired with just my BS in a sort of related field and they also liked me because I have ambitions of going on further through school.

To become a BCBA you need to have a Master's with the approved coursework. This means certain classes. There are ABA master's degrees or psych master's with ABA tracks. Then you need your supervision hours. This is like 1500 hours (with weird rules). Then you can sit for your boards. If you pass the test, you get your BCBA.

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To go further off of that:

I am an RBT which is a Registered Behavior Technician in my state. I did in person training at my job as an ABA therapist (I'm still an ABA therapist just with more qualifications) and 40 hours of training videos. Then I saw for the RBT exam. I need so many hours a month of supervised time by a BCBA to maintain my certificate.

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1 hour ago, SpeechLaedy said:

I have researched this forwards and backwards and yet I still do not understand the differences between getting an Advanced Cert. in ABA vs becoming an ABA Therapist/ BI. Would someone please care to explain? Because I planned on getting my Advanced Cert. in ABA as a backup if I am not accepted into a program (hopefully that won't happen :( ) - but it seems like from what was said, I may not be able to become a BCBA without a masters degree? Please help me out here..

I recommend working as an ABA therapist first and deciding if you want to go further in it or reapply for SLP.

At my clinic, we have ABA, SLPs, OTs, and a PT. We work with kids who have ASD. Some of them have more diagnoses. For instance, I work with a kid who has several other diagnoses some of which have caused blindness. Some of the kids have language disorders. Some script, some have echolalia. Several use AAC devices like LAMP, PECS, Words for Life on devices.

We have one SLP who came to work at our clinic because when she entered the job market, she was unable to get behaviors under control and couldn't get therapy done. She is now pursuing her Master's online. A lot of people do the master's online while simultaneously working as a program manager to get their supervision hours.

 

Message me if you have more questions.

Edited by maurmaur

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Thanks so much @maurmaur for your very thorough responses! Really helped! And I'll be sure to message you if I have any more questions (which I probably will have ?) 

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