How to Become a Reading Teacher in 5 Steps

Learn about a reading teacher's tasks, and get information about the degrees and licensure needed for this career. Find out how voluntary certification can advance your teaching career. Schools offering Literacy degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does a Reading Teacher Do?

Reading teachers use curriculum guidelines to develop lesson plans to teach students to read, write and pronounce words. They must ensure their lesson plans are age-appropriate for the students they're working with. Reading teachers may be employed at public or private schools. They usually need a bachelor's degree in a relevant subject area, such as English, and those employed by public schools need a teaching license. They work with students of all age levels. The focus of their work is usually with students who have learning disabilities or difficulties understanding how to read and write. They may instruct students in spelling, phonetics or grammar. Some reading teachers may assist teachers in their class, while they may also have a separate room where they instruct students. They may work with students who are on special education plans and may need to modify the standard curriculum for those students. Below, you can learn more details about the career of a reading teacher:

Degree Required Bachelor's
Education Field of Study Education
Key Responsibilities Instruct students in the areas of writing, reading, speaking and listening depending on their age and educational level
Licensure Requirements Licensure required for public school teachers
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 6% (for all teachers)
Median Salary (2015)* $54,550 (for all kindergarten and elementary teachers), $55,860 (for all middle school teachers), $57,200 (for all high school teachers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Is a Reading Teacher?

Reading teachers, also called language arts teachers, instruct students in reading, speaking, listening and writing. In this job, you would teach younger students how to pronounce words, spell correctly and practice listening skills. With older students, you might help them master comprehension, fluency and vocabulary. You might work with individual students or instruct an entire class.

Step 1: Enroll In a Degree Program

If you want to teach in a public school, you need licensure and a bachelor's degree in education or a related field. To prepare for state licensure, you need to complete a program accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education or the Teacher Education Accreditation Council. Coursework you might take while pursing an education degree includes teaching methods, childhood development and learning psychology. You could also consider enrolling in additional language arts and literature courses. Some reading teachers may earn a degree in English or literature and then earn a master's degree in education.

Step 2: Complete Student Teaching Requirements

Education degree programs usually culminate in a student teaching internship. You will have the opportunity to work in a classroom, assisting a licensed teacher with lesson planning and implementation. You may also administer assessment tests to evaluate reading skills. At the end of the internship, you will prepare and submit a written report to your professor, detailing your observations and experiences as a teacher.

Step 3: Obtain a Teaching License

After graduation, you need to apply to your state's education board for a teaching license if you want to teach in a public school. Some private schools may also desire candidates with licenses. Individual state requirements may vary, but most states require you to hold a bachelor's degree, complete education training courses and fulfill a certain number of hours as a student teacher. Some states may also have additional qualifications for reading teacher licensing.

Step 4: Find a Job

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the demand for elementary, middle and high school teachers was expected to increase by 6% between 2014 and 2024 ( More opportunities will be available in rural communities and in inner-city school districts. You may need to get your foot in the door by accepting a job as a general education teacher. After gaining some experience, you might be able to transfer to a reading instructor position.

Step 5: Get Certified

You have the option to pursue certification to increase advancement opportunities or to obtain benefits many districts offer to nationally certified teachers. The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards offers a literacy certificate for reading teachers ( To qualify, you must complete ten assessments in reading education. Many universities also offer certification for student in a reading specialist master's degree program.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Special education teachers work with students who have development delays or learning disorders. They need a bachelor's or master's degree to prepare for their career, and like reading teachers, they may modify the typical curriculum to the needs of specific students. Elementary teachers usually teach reading, writing and related skills to their students, along with other classes. Like reading teachers, they need a bachelor's degree. Middle and high school English or English language arts teachers also instruct students in reading, writing, vocabulary development, and other reading-related skills. They also need a bachelor's degree.

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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