Reading specialists usually need a standard teaching license, as well as state certification for their specialization. Graduate certificate programs are generally designed to help fulfill state certification requirements and are offered either in combination with a master's degree or on their own.
In most programs, students learn about language acquisition, processes, and development. Students can also gain skills in planning differentiated programs, instruction and assessment related to literacy. Many reading specialist curricula guide students in classroom strategies, such as independent reading and motivation for reading. Students usually participate in a practicum or internship semester. Program fields include arts, humanities, and sciences, such as global studies, literature, religion, women's studies, gerontology and forensic science.
Applicants for this 1-2 year program must have a bachelor's degree and be in pursuit of a graduate degree. Depending on the program, previous coursework in psychology, education or literature may be required. Applicants may also be required to present GRE or MAT scores.
Graduate Certificate in Reading Specialist
Reading specialist programs cover literacy research, theories, curriculum development, and instructional practices. Courses might examine action research, curriculum development, foundations in education, literacy assessment and:
- Diagnosing reading problems
- Evaluation of reading programs
- Cognitive development
- Reading development
- Children's literature
- Adolescent literature
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
Although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn't have specific data available for reading specialists, as of 2015, the median annual salary for middle school teachers was $55,860 and $57,200 for secondary schools teachers (www.bls.gov). The BLS expected employment of these teachers to grow at an average rate of 6% during the period from 2014-2024. Earning reading specialist certification might lead to advancement in many school districts.
Certification and Continuing Education
Certification requirements for reading specialists vary by state and can include the completion of an Educational Testing Service Praxis II exam for reading specialists or a master's degree. A graduate certificate program might also fulfill many of the requirements for state certification. Certified reading specialists commonly need to complete continuing education or professional development in order to maintain their certification and stay abreast of new developments in literacy instruction.
Reading specialist certificate programs are offered to students who are already pursuing a graduate program in a related field, but they are also offered on their own. Students need both a teaching license and certification to work as a reading specialist.