Reading Specialist Career Information

Reading specialists work in schools to ensure that effective reading programs are well implemented and individual children get the literacy instruction they need to succeed in school—and life. From working with struggling students to overseeing teaching decisions, reading specialists act as the literacy experts in public and private schools. If you would like to use your teaching skills to provide quality reading education to students in kindergarten through twelfth grade, read on to discover more about this exciting career.

Reading Specialist Job Description

As a reading specialist, you'll do much more than just read books with students. Reading specialists provide general guidance to teachers and administrators as they select and implement reading programs across grade levels. They improve student literacy by offering reading instruction to students who are falling behind, or to others suffering from specific reading disorders, such as dyslexia.

In addition to the specific services they offer, reading specialists promote general literacy skills, including the following:

  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Listening
  • Speaking

As a reading specialist, you may travel between schools within a district, meet with teachers and administrators, sit in on classrooms, conduct your own research, and lead single students or groups through reading exercises to improve their reading skills. Some reading specialists work in a remedial capacity for colleges and universities, and a small percentage work outside the school setting in daycare centers, government agencies and consulting firms.

The Benefits of Being a Reading Specialist

If you've spent a lot of time with your nose in a book (as you probably have, if you're thinking of becoming a reading specialist), you know the joys of reading and how reading has enhanced your life. Pursuing a career in literacy training will give you the opportunity to share your love of words with future generations, both behind-the-scenes and working directly with students.

The effect you have on your students will be far reaching. Beyond contributing to their basic ability to function in a literate world, learning to read affects children's education not only in English class, but is also crucial for success in social studies, math and science. As a reading specialist, you'll get the satisfaction of knowing that you're helping students succeed in all their classes, and paving the way for future success once they graduate from high school, go to college, and get jobs in the real world.

Challenges for Reading Specialists

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that instructional coordinators (including reading specialists) can sometimes work longer hours than other teachers, even sometimes year-round. If you're pursuing a teaching career for the summer vacation, contact potential employers ahead of time to inquire about the hours their reading specialists work. But remember, working year-round means getting paid for year-round work. See our reading specialist salary article for more information on reading specialist salaries.

Another consideration for reading specialists is the level of responsibility the job entails. Reading specialists make important curriculum decisions that will have an impact on all the students in a school or district. When it comes to the education of our youth, the stakes are high.

But remember, you'll receive specialized education to prepare you precisely for these important educational decisions. To succeed as a reading specialist, stay up-to-date by going to conferences, meet with students often, and stay on top of effective teaching methods by doing your own research. In the long run, you'll see the positive effect you've had on the lives of countless young readers.

See our article, How to Become a Reading Specialist, to learn how to get started as a reading specialist today.


Top Degrees for Reading Specialists

Online

Capella University

Campuses: Online

Degrees Offered:

  • Master of Science in Reading and Literacy (for licensed K-12 teachers) (Online)

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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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Maryland

Loyola College in Maryland

Campuses: Baltimore

Degrees Offered:

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

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California

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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