Jobs for Reading Specialists: Career and Salary Facts

Research what it takes to become a reading specialist. Learn about education requirements, job duties, licensure and salary to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Literacy degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Reading Specialist?

Reading specialists assist children and adults with literacy skills. They can enter the career field by earning a bachelor's degree and teaching credentials; already-certified teachers may earn a master's degree in reading instruction. Reading specialists tend to work in elementary and middle schools, although they may also work with high schoolers and adult learners. They tend to coordinate with teachers to create plans for students with reading trouble. They may have to do presentations in front of classes or other groups to give instruction on reading. Reading specialists often need knowledge and understanding about dyslexia to help slower readers.

The table below tells more about a career as a reading specialist.

Degree Required Bachelor's Degree
Field of Study Education
Key Responsibilities Assess reading ability, individualize instruction for struggling readers, instruct small reading groups, meet with parents
Certification State certification required
Job Growth (2014-2024) 6% (for middle school teachers)*
6% (for high school teachers)*
7% (adult literacy teachers)*
Median Salary (2016) $49,681 (for reading specialists) **

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Payscale.com

Where Could I Find a Job as a Reading Specialist?

As a reading specialist, your primary goal is to teach children and adults how to read. You might find a job as a reading specialist within an elementary and middle schools or at private and government-funded academic centers. In such a position, you'd be responsible for working with students who have not yet reached the reading level of their peers. You could work with students in one-on-one sessions or group them according to reading level.

Several adult education centers and government-sponsored organizations would employ you as an adult reading specialist or literacy education teacher. In such a role, you'd teach basic reading and literacy skills to adults or teens who are no longer in school. You could also find work at a continuing education center, a junior college or a secondary school.

What Would My Specific Job Duties Be?

If you work as a reading specialist in an elementary or middle school, your job duties generally include assessing children to determine their reading level, matching assignments and lesson plans to the needs of individual children, helping children work through reading assignments and working with teachers and parents to improve a child's reading comprehension. Working with adults, you'll usually teach a group of individuals who are all at a similar reading level. In addition to reading fundamentals, you could cover English topics, such as grammar, spelling and penmanship.

What Education Do I Need?

You'll need at least a bachelor's degree to work as a reading specialist. If you choose to work in a public elementary or secondary school, you'll also need teaching certification or licensure. Requirements for teaching licensing and certification vary by state, but most require that you earn a bachelor's degree in the subject that you plan to teach and complete a teacher's education program.

Earning a master's degree might also help you to secure a position as a reading specialist. A Master of Science in Reading Instruction or a similar field of study provides you with the specific knowledge and skills necessary to teach children and adults how to read. While enrolled in a master's program, you'll learn how to diagnose reading problems, as well as different approaches to literacy, cultural considerations and reading instruction strategies.

How Do I Get Certified?

Each state has its own certification regulations for reading specialists, and you usually need to submit proof of education and required experience to the state board. Some states maintain separate licensure, and others include reading specialists and adult literacy teachers under the umbrella of a standard teacher's license. You might also consider earning a national certification in literacy from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. In order to gain national certification, you must meet experience requirements, complete an assessment examination and submit samples of your accomplishments as a reading specialist.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

If you like the idea of helping others read, you might also consider a career as an elementary school teacher or high school teacher. Elementary school teachers must perform a variety of tasks to help their students learn, both in active teaching and administrative roles. They need at least a bachelor's degree, usually in early childhood education, along with state certification. While elementary school teachers instruct students in all subjects, high school teachers specialize in one or more subject area. They need at least a bachelor's degree in the subject area they want to teach in, as well as state certification.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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