Reading Specialist Degree

What does a reading specialist do?

Reading specialists are responsible for helping students improve their reading abilities and language skills in a variety of settings. These specialists may work for different grade levels at a time, or even different schools. Their main responsibility is to design a comprehensive literacy program for the school, which incorporates reading exercises for children and allows them to work one-on-one with the students and teachers. They can also be a valuable resource for parents, administrators and other concerned members. Most Reading Specialists work with elementary-level children; however, some institutions might require their services at the middle and high school levels as well.

The job requires a high level of patience and the ability to deal with children. Here is a quick list of the duties of a reading specialist:

  • Develop and coordinate the curriculum and its implementation
  • Analyze student test data
  • Make recommendations regarding teaching techniques, standards and school staff
  • Plan, organize and conduct training workshops for teachers and administration to help them understand the importance of literacy
  • Research and gather data regarding the students and determine what needs to be done to improve their reading skills
  • Provide guidance to school staff about how they can contribute in developing reading and literacy skills in students

How to Become a Reading Specialist?

To become a Reading Specialist, you have to fulfill the educational requirements first. Typical jobs in this field require at least a bachelor’s degree, while a lot of organizations give preference to master’s degree holders.

Education Requirements for a Reading Specialist

You will be required to earn at least a 4-year undergraduate degree in a relevant subject. The major you would need to pursue would vary from state to state. Potential options could be human behavior, child psychology, learning psychology, etc. In some cases, you may also have to take classes in a particular subject such as math, science or reading. Subject area specialty is usually required for middle school teachers or higher grade levels, however elementary school teachers don’t need this usually.

The curriculum would involve courses in a variety of education related matters. This can include classroom management courses, educational technology courses, methods for teaching different subjects, language arts, psychology and so on. Some colleges also offer highly focused programs designed specifically for reading specialists. In addition to that, students might be required to complete an internship that would expose them to a real teaching environment. Volunteering with a literacy program might help aspiring reading specialists grasp the concepts of what they would be required to do. Many states and cities have literacy councils or foundations that deal with these functions and may offer internship opportunities.

You may also go for a master’s degree in this field. In some states, a master’s degree is required for getting certified. A Master of Education (M.Ed.) with a concentration in reading specialist would be ideal. A master’s level program with a focus on this field would deal with teaching reading and writing to grades K-12 and adults. Coursework details might be outlined by the concerned state. So, make sure you are well aware of the relevant local laws and that your degree complies with all the requirements for entry into this field. Topics taught at the master’s level would include advance level reading materials, guidelines for instructors, detection of language difficulty, research methodologies, reading assessments and so on.

Certification for a Reading Specialist

Once you have cleared your bachelor’s degree, you will need to get certified before you can begin teaching in any capacity. The US legal system requires all public-school teachers to have a valid state license before they can apply for a license as a reading specialist. The requirements for this license would vary from state to state, but most states make it mandatory to submit Praxis test scores in the subject of specialization you are applying for – such as secondary education in learning psychology.

Experience Requirements for a Reading Specialist

Most jobs as a reading specialist would require applicants to have a certain amount of experience in the field of teaching and instruction. This basically helps these specialists understand the dynamics of a classroom and the overall responsibilities of a teacher. Even though this requirement also varies with state, typically two to three years of experience in the field is considered sufficient to land a job as a reading specialist.

Career Outlook for Reading Specialists

Reading Specialists can find employment at all levels of education. They may go for early childhood programs or for high level college students with advance degrees. These professionals work with students to help them develop literacy skills required in order to communicate effectively in any walk of life.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics provides the following statistics for Instructional Coordinators:

2016 Median Pay

$62,460 per year

Typical Entry Level Education

Master’s Degree

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

5 years or more

On-the-job Training

None

Number of Jobs, 2014

151,100

Job Outlook, 2014-2024

7%

Employment Change, 2014-24

10500

Instructional Coordinators are defined by BLS as professionals who oversee school curriculum and standards for teaching. They assist in the development of effective instructional materials and help implement their planning in close coordination with other teachers and administration. The employment in this sector is expected to grow in the upcoming years, as fast as the average for all occupations. This growth is due to the fact that schools are now paying more attention to individual students and the overall improvement of the education systems.

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