OVERLAND PARK — The field of behavioral health services is experiencing increased need — as well as a shortage of professionals to meet demand. That need includes more registered behavior technicians, or RBTs, in the workforce.
As of April 2020, there were 104 job postings for RBTs in the Kansas City metropolitan area, suggesting a growing need on a regional level.
“Several states have reported shortages of registered behavior technicians,” said Jessica Juanico, University of Kansas assistant professor of the practice and assistant director of online programs in KU’s Department of Applied Behavioral Science. “With these shortages, fewer clients are able to receive the services they need.”
KU Professional & Continuing Education is helping meet this growing community need through its self-paced RBT training course, which recently graduated 500 participants. The course consists of 17 modules that review fundamental elements of behavior analysis, such as reinforcement, functions of behavior and data collection.
Juanico said the training, which is overseen and reviewed by a board-certified behavior analyst, is constantly evolving to meet the needs of students.
“We continually review and enhance the training based on participants’ feedback,” Juanico said. “For example, currently we’re working to increase the variety of consumers and settings in our trainings so that participants receive a broader exposure to different situations they might encounter working in behavior analysis.”
RBTs may work as general or special education teachers, child care administrators, reading specialists or as special needs staff or administrators, providing direct assistance to the individuals they work with.
“Registered behavior technicians are essential in the day-to-day delivery of behavior analytic services and practice under the close direction and supervision of a board certified assistant behavior analyst or board certified behavior analyst,” Juanico said. “They often work one-on-one with people seeking behavior analytic services, such as children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, traumatic brain injury or severe problem behavior.”
KUPCE’s training course is effectively preparing participants for this work. According to a survey conducted by KU’s applied behavioral science department, 97% of respondents successfully passed RBT examination and are certified. RBT course participants have cited the program’s accessibility, flexible scheduling and practical content as elements they’ve appreciated.
“We receive great feedback at the end of the course regarding its structure, ease of access and applicability to clinical settings,” Juanico said.
Sharon Graham, assistant vice chancellor of KU Professional & Continuing Education, said the program provides a valuable resource to the region’s professional community and the people they serve.
“Registered behavior technicians play an important role in helping people lead better, healthier lives,” Graham said. “KUPCE is proud to have helped so many area professionals help make a difference in their communities.”