Reading and literacy are the foundation for all of our success in today’s developed society. Teaching children to read opens the doors to learning about any skill or subject that their hearts desire, if they can find a book about it. We all remember the book that made the biggest impact on us as it kid, the one that changed the way we saw the world. Reading and literacy teachers have the opportunity to share that experience with students who struggle with challenges related to reading.
These days, literacy is about more than just being able to read and write—it’s about being able to fully engage, communicate, and thrive in a society that depends on the exchange of written and verbal information. Whether you currently serve as a teacher or you’re considering growing a specialized career in reading and literacy, this is a path that can offer the opportunity to share the foundation of learning and communicating with your students.
THE CAREER PATH
Reading and literacy professionals may work with individuals as young as kindergarten or well into their adulthood. They may work directly with students or as advisors to other professionals, addressing challenges like dyslexia or building skills for learners of English as a Second Language. Educators who are currently teaching in a classroom may seek a degree in reading and literacy in order to complement their existing knowledge, develop their skills, and better serve their students as well as to increase the opportunity to work in specialized classrooms or offices. Some aspiring professionals pursue reading and literacy from day one, working as reading specialists or literacy coaches before acquiring a master’s degree.
There are many different paths for reading and literacy careers, but the most popular types of jobs for these professionals are described by the United States Department of Labor:
- Teachers – Teachers in a traditional classroom may seek a certification in reading and literacy in order to meet the learning needs of their students. These teachers may work with younger grades that require additional preparation to ensure they have the reading skills needed to succeed academically. A degree can also benefit teachers who work with students that have dyslexia or other reading-related challenges.
- Reading Specialists – Reading specialists often work with younger children who have difficulties reading, and may be considered a type of special education teacher in certain settings. The work of a reading specialists includes assessing reading abilities, identifying deficiencies, and creating intervention plans for their students. In addition to working with children, reading specialists may consult with teachers and staff in order to improve reading curriculum and approach the learning needs of children holistically.
- Literacy Coaches – Literacy coaches typically work in one of two settings: working with teachers to improve student outcomes by addressing literacy needs and curriculum adjustments or instructing nontraditional adult students or adolescents that are out of school or in alternative programs.
Reading and literacy professionals can rest assured that the path they choose will make a positive impact on the lives of students in addition to being able to expect a reward of more than $50,000 annually on average for most positions in the field. The demand for qualified professionals is expected to grow steadily over the next decade to address the needs of a growing number of enrolled students in the school system.
WHO IS THE IDEAL CANDIDATE?
Helping students to successfully build the foundation of reading and literacy requires patience and strong communication skills to work with students from a variety of different backgrounds and with varying challenges. Reading and literacy professionals must have interpersonal skills that it takes to build relationships with students, parents, staff, and administration in addition to the problem-solving skills that they will use in the classroom when addressing new challenges. If you consider yourself a compassionate, creative, and personable professional and you are dedicated to improving the lives of students through the power of reading and learning then consider building your career in reading and literacy.
WHAT SHOULD I LOOK FOR?
Whether you are just starting to explore different career options, or whether you are already working fulltime in a classroom and are looking for options to advance your skills and training, there are online reading and literacy programs that can meet your goals and needs.
Regardless of which role you hope to fill as a reading and literacy professional, chances are you will be required to have a certification or licensure that is administered by the state for your respective career choices. Reading specialists and teachers, for example, are required to have a teaching license as well as endorsement as a reading specialist or reading and literacy specialist.
Reading specialists and literacy coaches can often find entry-level positions with a bachelor’s degree, although some may seek their master’s in order to become more competitive for potential employers. Teachers may want to acquire their master’s degree in reading and literacy to complement their existing educational background. Regardless of the program that you choose, most will allow you to customize coursework to build towards a certification, licensure, or specialization to further your career.
The best programs will prepare professionals with the strategies they need to address reading and writing difficulties through offer hands-on classroom experience in addition to coursework such as:
- Adolescent Literacy
- Assessing and Measuring Reading Skills
- Research Methods of Education
- Literacy Development and History
- Reading Education
Aspiring professionals can determine quality programs by endorsements from the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). This programmatic accreditation is an optional process for the school and will generally equal a higher cost of tuition as well as more prestige. Click on a program below to view tuition estimates, accreditation, reviews, and more!