Resource Specialist: Career Types and Education Requirements

Sep 26, 2019

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a resource specialist. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about schooling, job duties and work opportunities to find out if this is the career for you.

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Resource specialists may work as special education teachers or conservation scientists. Both careers require a bachelor's degree. The job growth outlook for both fields is slower than average.

Essential Information

A resource specialist may work in the field of education or environmentalism. Educational resource specialists make sure that special needs students receive the attention and learning tools necessary to help them succeed. Natural resource specialists, such as foresters and conservation scientists, promote the protection of natural resources with environmentally sound methods.

Career Special Education Teacher Conservation Scientist
Education Requirements Bachelor's degree Bachelor's degree
Other Requirements Teaching license or certification if working in a public school Licensing in some states
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 3% 4%
Median Annual Salary (2018)* $60,600 (secondary schools) $61,310

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Educational Resource Specialist Job Description

Educational resource specialists are also known as special education teachers. They teach special needs students, including those with autism, physical disabilities, mental retardation or other developmental hindrances. Special education teachers incorporate adaptive technology into their lesson plans to help students learn, including the use of computers with dictation software, interactive learning games and audiovisual aids.


Special education teachers not only give students educational instruction, they also provide guidance with regard to life skills and emotional development. They communicate regularly with parents and other teachers, discussing topics such as student progress, tips for handling emotional outbursts and ways to help students succeed. Educational resource specialists often create individualized education programs (IEPs) for each special needs student. They then verify that other teachers follow the IEP instructions, making note that each student has the equipment and additional time needed for various projects and tests.


To work in public schools, special education teachers usually need bachelor's degrees in teaching, but the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) points out that many employers prefer applicants with post-baccalaureate or graduate training in special education ( Some undergraduate teaching programs allow students to minor in special education. Post-baccalaureate credential and graduate degree programs in special education cover teaching methodologies that address learning disabilities, physical disabilities, behavioral support and emotional impairments.

Educational resource specialists seeking work at public schools must be licensed in accordance with state mandates. Information from the BLS shows that many states require special education teachers to obtain traditional teaching licenses first and then pursue post-baccalaureate training in special education. Other states prefer to license special education teachers based on a specialty area.

Although each state has different requirements for earning a teaching license, the process usually involves earning a bachelor's degree and completing a teacher-training program. But several states require special education teachers to hold master's degrees, according to the BLS. After meeting requirements, teachers must pass state licensing exams and follow license renewal protocols.

Career and Salary Information

According to the BLS, special education teaching jobs overall are predicted to grow slower than average from 2018-2028. The number of jobs at the preschool level are expected to grow by 8%, kindergarten and elementary school levels are expected to grow 3%, the number of jobs at the middle school level is expected to grow 3%, and the number of jobs at the secondary school level is expected to grow 3%.

Pay for special education teachers can vary slightly according to grade levels taught. The BLS reported that in 2018, kindergarten and elementary school special education teachers earned an average salary of $59,390; middle school special education teachers earned $59,390; and secondary school special education teachers earned $60,600 that same year.

Natural Resource Specialist Job Description

There are several types of natural resource specialists, including foresters and conservation scientists. Foresters often focus on woodland areas where they monitor the attainment of wood, the planting of new trees and the removal of diseased trees. Conservation scientists find ways to maximize the use of land and minimize the damage to natural resources, such as water and soil. Both foresters and conservation scientists often work as consultants to businesses, landowners and the government. They make recommendations for using natural resources through environmentally-friendly means.


General duties include creating accurate maps of woodland locations, marking trees to be cut down and writing reports about forestry topics, such as tree growth, water supplies and new seedling sites. Other responsibilities may include monitoring wildlife habitats within forested areas and making sure those habitats are protected, especially when making choices about harvesting trees or planning controlled fires.

Conservation scientists have varying duties based on their particular specialty. Soil scientists collect samples of dirt, test samples from different sites and then use that data to make recommendations on land use. Range managers often work in the agricultural industry, and their duties can include researching soil and mineral deposits, taking land measurements and determining the most environmentally-effective ways to use land. They then make recommendations and reports on how many range animals the land will support or how many crops the soil will yield.


Both foresters and conservation scientists need at least a bachelor's degree to gain employment, per the BLS. Potential majors include forestry, forestry resource management or environmental sciences. Degree programs to consider for becoming conservation scientists include environmental management and protection, agricultural sciences, natural resources management and rangeland management. According to the BLS, graduate degrees may be necessary to teach at the postsecondary level or to conduct significant research in these fields.

The BLS indicates that as of December 2015, 15 states required foresters to go through a credentialing process. In pursuit of credentialing, registration or licensure, foresters often have to meet minimum education requirements. Candidates may need to earn a degree, pass exams and meet renewal requirements, such as continuing their education.

Career and Salary Information

The BLS predicts that forester and conservation scientist jobs will increase 3% from 2018-2028. The agency also reports a mean salary of $65,320 in 2018 for conservation scientists.

Resource specialists, such as special ed teachers or conservation scientists, need to have a bachelor's degree and earn a mean salary of around $65,000. Special ed teachers often are required to obtain a state license. Conservation scientists who wish to teach at colleges or do a lot of research may need a graduate degree.

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