Career Information for a Degree or Certification in Teaching Reading

Jul 20, 2021

A degree or certification in reading can lead to a career as an elementary school teacher, remedial reading teacher, or instructional coordinator. A degree in reading provides a foundation to instruct students in phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency and comprehension, which are the key components of reading. It also prepares graduates to identify students with reading difficulties and equips them with strategies to help those students improve their reading skills.

Essential Information

Teachers in many states can specialize in different subjects such as reading. Most employers require a bachelor's degree and teacher's certification. To add a reading endorsement to a teacher's certification, an individual must complete nine credit hours in literacy, phonics and other relevant subjects. To become a reading specialist, one will need a master's or doctorate degree and at least three years experience teaching. Internships are mandatory for most graduate programs.

Career Elementary School Teacher Remedial Reading Teacher Instructional Coordinator
Education Requirements Bachelor's degree Bachelor's degree Master's degree
Certification/Licensure Many programs require state teacher licensure Most programs require state teacher licensure Many programs require state teacher or administrator licensure
Projected Job Growth (2019-2029)* 4% (for elementary teachers, except special education) -10% (for adult literacy and high school equivalency diploma teachers) 6% (for instructional coordinators)
Median Salary (2020)* $60,940 (for elementary teachers, except special education) $55,350 (for adult literacy and high school equivalency diploma teachers) $66,970 (for instructional coordinators)

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Options

To become a reading teacher, an individual must secure a bachelor's degree, state teacher certification and an endorsement in reading. With a master's degree and at least three years teaching experience, a student can become a reading specialist. With a master's or doctorate degree, one can become an instructional coordinator. The student must usually complete a college internship program to earn a graduate degree.

Public School Reading Teacher

Reading teachers develop students' abilities to decode and comprehend written text. To teach reading in public schools, a bachelor's degree in education and an endorsement in teaching reading are usually necessary.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that job opportunities for kindergarten and elementary school teachers in general will see an average growth of 4% over the 2019-2029 decade. They also reported the median salary for a kindergarten teacher was $57,860 in 2020, and elementary school teachers earned a median salary of $60,940 that year.

Remedial Reading Teacher

These reading teachers work with adults and other students whose reading skills are below the level needed for productive involvement in the labor force or for further education. Some remedial reading teachers work in public high schools, preparing students who have fallen behind their peers to succeed in their classes, pass achievement tests or graduation exams. Other remedial teachers work with adults, some of whom might be studying for their General Educational Development (GED) diploma or preparing to go back to school after a long break.

The BLS expects a 10% decline in job opportunities for adult literacy and GED teachers from 2019 through 2029. The BLS reported a median income for adult literacy and high school equivalency diploma teachers of $55,350 per year as of 2020.

Instructional Coordinator

The International Reading Association recommends that teachers who hold a reading specialist degree become more involved in leadership roles, giving teachers and parents someone to turn to as a resource. One way to fulfill this role is as an instructional coordinator. According to the BLS, an instructional coordinator plays an active part in developing curriculum, overseeing teacher training and selecting course material.

The BLS expects job growth for all instructional coordinators to expand at a faster than average rate between 2019 and 2029 to meet the need for instructional development and support for teachers. The BLS data shows a median annual salary of $66,970 for instructional coordinators in 2020.

What is a Degree or Certificate in Teaching Reading?

Literacy is a vital skill in today's society. An education degree or teacher certification in reading prepares the teacher not only to instruct students in the five big ideas of reading - phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency and comprehension - but, according to the College Board, will also train them to notice difficulties students may have in reading and take measures to correct them.

Another path is to earn a specialist degree. Many colleges offer advanced degrees in reading, like a Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) or Master of Science (M.S.) with a concentration in reading, or even a doctoral program, such as an Educational Specialist (Ed.S.) in Reading or Literacy.

With a degree or certification in reading it is possible to become an elementary school teacher, remedial reading teacher, or instructional coordinator. Elementary school teachers play a critical role in teaching students to read, while remedial reading teachers assist those who struggle with reading and use strategies to help them improve their reading skills. Instructional coordinators determine how teachers will teach reading in the classroom, and ensure teachers are trained in how to effectively relay the curriculum to students.

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