A desire to teach, a love of reading, and an interest in helping students who are struggling or might need additional developmental instruction might lead a future educator to consider becoming a reading specialist. Professionals in this area of education play an integral role in the overall academic success of many students, and there are a number of qualifications to fulfill in order to be prepared.
Reading Specialist Curriculum Overview
For the majority of schools, a reading specialist will be required to hold a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in order to work with students. However, many districts will prefer for a candidate to have a master’s degree specializing in reading education and several years of experience working in education, most often as a classroom teacher.
Universities around the country offer graduate degree programs to prepare educators for reading positions. Most programs are designed for professional educators or recent graduates with an undergraduate degree in education. Some institutions do have programs for prospective students from other backgrounds.
Typical courses in a graduate degree program for reading specialist certification include content area reading, reading instruction, literacy coaching, remedial practicum, reading diagnosis, remediation, learning and development, and children’s or young adult literature.
Experienced educators with a teaching background in another subject might also decide to work toward gaining the qualifications to become a reading specialist. There are numerous programs throughout the United States for advanced study programs. In this curriculum, professional educators are required to take only those credits that are specific to literacy and language in a typical master’s degree program to become a reading specialist. Additional information on some of the skills and knowledge required to prepare for the reading specialist field can be reviewed at the International Dyslexia Association website.
Reading specialists are required in many states to hold a specific teaching certification. While the majority of states require teachers and support staff to hold licenses or certifications, in order to instruct or lead classroom instruction or interventions in developmental reading or Title I reading, a reading specialist will be required in most states to hold a specific designation. These certifications also typically enable a reading professional to teach linguistics and language arts at the secondary level.
Depending on the state, endorsements can be earned by major and minor coursework in a degree or certification program through a postsecondary educational institution. Many states also require a graduate and future teaching professional to successfully complete a set of examinations in order to earn an endorsement.
Related Resource: Specializing an Education Degree
Professional Organization and Affiliations
A future reading specialist might also benefit from membership in a professional organization dedicated to the advancement and education of reading professionals in particular. There are a number of resources to help an individual become a reading specialist, including information on education, training, professional development, certifications, and career position postings. For additional information, visit the International Reading Association website.
Many education professionals find the rewards to meeting the requirements to work with students well worth the time and effort. If a joy for learning and teaching language and literacy would be a good fit, a future educator might consider how to fulfill the qualifications to become a reading specialist.