Why a Teacher Should Get a Reading Specialist Certification

Kathryn Starke
Kathryn Starke
Urban Literacy Consultant, Author

Every teacher is a reading teacher from kindergarten through 12th grade, since reading is at the core of every other subject. A reading specialist certification provides educators with a standard level of training and coursework in learning how to help students in reading. This endorsement in reading shows that the teacher successfully completed classes to enable them to be considered more of an expert teacher in literacy. While the requirements for this certification differ on a state by state basis, the guidelines for the purpose of the reading specialist certification are often the same: Creating the path to becoming a reading specialist or expert reading teacher in the classroom or school.

How does the Certification Improve You as an Educator?

The primary job of a reading specialist is to teach children to read. Therefore, an educator with this certification that chooses to be a classroom teacher may be given a particular class where he or she can use his or her knowledge and expertise in teaching reading. Knowing that kindergarten through 2nd grade builds the foundations of reading, it is important to consider placing an educator with this certification in one of the primary grades so the specialist can apply her knowledge most effectively.  Schools or districts in need of qualified reading educators will look to hire an educator with a reading specialist certification to be a school’s reading specialist, or a reading teacher, who supports the reading specialist. In this capacity, the person would be instrumental in administering reading assessments and helping to diagnose students with reading disabilities. They would be expected to be able to analyze the data of literacy assessments and determine what students qualify for more specialized reading instruction. In addition to working directly with children, someone with this certification could help classroom teachers plan reading lessons and collaborate with the librarian to create school-wide literacy events to promote a love of reading.

Career Outcomes of the Certification

At least three years of classroom experience is required for educators to become a reading specialist, and a master’s degree is required in many states and school districts.  However, an individual with a certification in reading can earn a higher salary than a classroom teacher and can be hired as a reading teacher or Title I reading teacher in the schools. The certification can also lead to opportunities to work in an adult literacy center or early childhood center. For schools and districts in need, someone with the reading specialist certification may be hired to be the school’s reading specialist, especially if they plan to continue their schooling in a graduate program to earn a master’s in reading or literacy.  Every teacher is a reading teacher, and the reading specialist certification is a great way for schools to gain more certified educators in reading while helping more children become successful, independent readers.

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