Learn How to Become a Reading Specialist

Learning how to become a reading specialist is a little like finding out how to become a teacher. The single most important factor to consider before starting your reading specialist education is to understand the certification requirements. Although we can't post each state's standards here, we can offer some guidance. Once you have a handle on the basics, you can contact schools directly to see if they meet the reading specialist requirements for your state.

The three most common licensure requirements for reading specialist are similar to those for classroom teachers:

  • Complete a master's degree in education or a similar field
  • Get in-school experience
  • Pass a state or national exam

Teacher Compensation Packages

If you're considering becoming a teacher but you need to make a decent paycheck, don't worry. Teachers can make good incomes.

Many states require specific coursework or additional teaching certificates. However, most states grant state certification to National Board Certified teachers with little or no additional work. Offered by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS), National Board Certified teachers are leaders in their schools, thanks to the NBPTS's rigorous assessment techniques. Following this route will also help if you want to advance into leadership roles in your school or district.

Choosing Your Reading Specialist Education Track

When learning how to become a reading specialist, one of the first decisions you need to make is your choice of college and specialty. From a bachelor's degree program to graduate school, here is how to make the most of your reading specialist education.

Reading Specialist Undergraduate Degrees
Receiving a broad base of knowledge is an important part of your undergraduate education. But since becoming a reading specialist always starts with a passion for the written word, you may want to follow your love of language by pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature. Another great degree option for reading specialists is to get right into the field of education by pursuing an education degree, such as a Bachelor of Science in Language Arts Education.

When choosing a major, remember that your undergraduate experience can be a stepping stone to a master's degree program, so choose a specialty that you'll stick with. Also, keep your state's certification requirements in mind to ensure that you can get through your training as efficiently as possible and set yourself up for success.

Your Post-Graduate Education
Graduate-level courses in reading and literacy education will prepare you to work with teachers and administrators on school- and district-wide reading initiatives. They will also ensure you have the research and practical skills to teach students effectively. Earning your master's degree usually takes about two years, and you can take some courses online to make it easier to fulfill your work and family commitments. If you choose an online course, be sure it meets your state's requirements.

Currently, nearly all states require reading specialists to hold master's degrees. A specialized degree, such as the Master's of Science in Reading and Literacy, will likely meet many of your state's requirements. In addition, Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) and Master of Education (MEd) degrees are other good options.

An MAT degree program will allow you to specialize in reading and can be completed in one year, especially if you majored in education as an undergraduate. An MEd degree provides a good foundation if you plan to pursue an education specialist or doctoral degree, or if you plan to focus on curriculum development or teacher training. Again, look at your state's requirements before deciding which degree will best fulfill licensure criteria and help you become a reading specialist.

A concentrated approach to completing your education and licensure requirements will help you navigate through school, internships and exams. But knowing how to become a reading specialist from the start will help you plan your career as efficiently as possible.

Top Degrees for Reading Specialists


Loyola College in Maryland

Campuses: Baltimore

Degrees Offered:

  • Adv. Certificate in Reading Education
  • MEd in Literacy/Reading Education

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University of La Verne

Campuses: La Verne

Degrees Offered:

  • MEd in Reading
  • Reading Certificate
  • Reading & Language Arts Specialist Credential

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New York

Medaille College

Campuses: Buffalo

Degrees Offered:

  • Post-Master's Certificate in Literacy
  • Master of Science in Education - Literacy

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Concordia University

Campuses: Online

Degrees Offered:

  • M.Ed in Curriculum & Instruction - Adolescent Literacy (Online)
  • M.Ed in Curriculum & Instruction - English Language Development (Online)
  • M.Ed in Curriculum & Instruction - Reading (Online)

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University of the Southwest

Campuses: Online

Degrees Offered:

  • Master of Science in Curriculum and Instruction: Bilingual

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