What is a Reading Specialist?

A reading specialist is an educational professional who focuses on improving student success in reading. Reading specialists can work in many different settings and with a wide variety of students. This article will provide you with information about specific tasks of reading specialists, the steps to take to become a reading specialist, and potential employment opportunities in the field.

Career Description

Reading specialists can work with students from pre-Kindergarten through adult. Many reading specialists directly instruct students in reading development tasks. This might include phonics and letter recognition at the early stages of reading, sight-reading, and vocabulary building. Reading specialists who work with students at later stages of reading also teach speed reading and specialized skills for reading non-fiction texts. Some reading specialists work with special populations of students who require extra reading assistance due to learning disabilities and being new to the English language.

Some reading specialists also coach teachers in reading instruction and professional development. They bridge the gap between educational research on reading development and classroom implementation. Others work with education administrators to help them develop efficient reading programs.

Work Settings

Many reading specialists work in school classrooms. Some work with one school or teacher, while others work for a district reading program in a variety of classrooms. Some work for independent reading programs that students attend outside of regular school. Others fulfill an administrative role with school districts and reading programs, helping them build reading curriculum. Still others are self-employed, providing private reading development lessons, according to the International Reading Association.

How to Become a Reading Specialist

The best place to start your journey is to peruse the employment opportunities websites for specific districts and programs. This provides an idea of what you need to be eligible for positions you want.

1. Earn a Bachelor’s degree

If you know you would like to work with younger children, an early education degree is most preferable. Language and literacy degrees are other great options.

2. Complete a State Teaching Certification Program

To work in elementary schools, complete an elementary education credential. To work in middle and high schools, complete a secondary education credential in language arts.

3. Gain Teaching Experience Wherever You Can

Become a tutor, a teacher’s assistant, volunteer at a local library reading program, or take an introductory position with a reading development program. Many positions require experience in addition to the degree and credential, so the sooner you start gaining experience, the better!

4. Complete a Master’s Degree in Education

If you would like to work at a more administrative role, a master’s degree is a must. Some states require that all reading specialists have a Master’s in Education. Visit your state’s department of education to find out specific requirements. Many individuals prefer to earn this degree online while working.

5. Earn a Reading Specialist License

This opens additional opportunities. In addition to a Master’s in Education, the reading specialist license will allow you to stand out in the job pool and show that your interests truly lies in reading support.

Related Resource: What is Behavioral Support Teacher?

Reading is one of our most essential and enjoyable human skills, so the role of a reading specialist is important and rewarding. It is also an excellent career for those who seek workplace diversity.