How to Become a <br>Reading Specialist

How to Become a
Reading Specialist

Eric Ciechanowski
By Eric Ciechanowski
Last Updated: January 20, 2020
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If you feel you would enjoy helping students discover the world of reading, you may be considering a career as a Reading Specialist. If you are not sure what this job entails, or if you are qualify to do it, read this article to find out!

What Does a Reading Specialist Do?

A Reading Specialist helps students overcome their reading difficulties. These professionals may work directly with children and/or adolescents, or may advise teachers, aides or volunteers on the best methods of promoting reading and literacy. Reading Specialists most typically work in grade schools, although they also work in middle and high schools.

Typical responsibilities of a Reading Specialist include:

  • Teaching tasks, such as teaching students with reading difficulties

  • Diagnosing tasks, such as assessing students’ learning abilities and possible causes for delays

  • Consulting tasks, such as advising teachers and aides on the best ways to work with students

  • Lesson preparation tasks, such as compiling lesson plans for individual needs

  • Analyzing tasks, interpreting data received from student diagnostic tests

Reading Specialist Skills

A Reading Specialist must be able to work with individuals as well as in group settings. They must be competent in helping small children in grade school, as well as teenagers in high school. This requires having excellent communication, empathy and an attitude geared to help. In addition to working with children, these professionals must consult and advise teachers, aides and volunteers, which requires patience, problem solving skills and authority.

Other key Reading Specialist skills include:

  • Organization

  • Attention to detail

  • Multitasking

  • Planning

How Do You Become a Reading Specialist?

Education and Training

The minimum educational requirement for working as a Reading Specialist is a bachelor’s degree in literacy, reading, education and language arts. However, most school districts require candidates to have a master’s degree in reading education.

There is teaching license required to work in all public schools and some private schools, which is dependent on having a bachelor’s degree, passing a criminal check and completing student teaching hours.

Additionally, some states or schools may require Reading Specialist certification. This is dependent on completing a master’s degree in reading and writing education, a teacher’s certificate and experience working in the field.

Finding a job

There are numerous educational and work-related experience required for finding work as a Reading Specialist. Therefore, a carefully written resume is essential to be considered for this position.

There are many Reading Specialist job openings available in schools throughout the country; it may also be advantageous to contact professionals in the network you have established while completing your degree or gaining experience in the field.

When writing a cover letter, don’t forget to let employers know why you are drawn to this field, and what makes you the best candidate to help students learn how to read.

Insights from a Reading Specialist

Kathryn Starke, former Reading Specialist and current Literacy Consultant, shares her views on finding a job in this industry.

What is the common career path for a Reading Specialist?

As a Reading Specialist, many programs require you to have three years of classroom experience before obtaining the master's degree in reading.

What should someone consider before becoming a Reading Specialist?

Someone wanting to get this degree should consider teaching first grade, the elementary grade focused on reading education.

What type of person excels in this job?

Someone who has taught both a primary and upper elementary grade is a great candidate for this job. Someone who excels not only is great with improving reading results but can also serve as a coach for supporting educations who teach reading.

What are some of the most important skills for a Reading Specialist to have?

The most important skills include keeping up-to-date on research-based reading instruction, collecting and analyzing data, organization of schedules and leadership schools that allow you to build relationships with children, families, and teachers to support learning at home and in school.

What do you find to be the most rewarding aspect of being a Reading Specialist?

The most rewarding aspect is when you see the great growth of struggling readers and children and wonderful data of your school.

How Much Do Reading Specialists Get Paid?

Reading Specialists earn an average of $49,908 per year, according to Payscale. The highest paid professionals earn $72,000, while the lowest paid make $35,000. Entry-level Reading Specialists usually earn $43,000, while those with around 20 years of experience make about $63,000.

Top 10 States for Reading Specialists Salary





    New York
















    Reading Specialist Resources

    For more information about becoming or working as a Reading Specialist, follow these sources.

    On the Web
    The requirements and issues surrounding the reading specialist certification process

    University of Wisconsin-Stout
    Online courses to meet your professional development goals as a reading specialist.


    OSAT Reading Specialist
    Guide on OSAT Reading Specialist practice test questions.

    The Reading Specialist, Second Edition: Leadership for the Classroom, School, and Community
    Resource for day-to-day guidance, professional development, and certification courses, this nuts-and-bolts text explains the varied roles and responsibilities of reading specialists in grades K–12.


    Literacy Loving Gals
    A blog written by a Reading Specialist.

    Reading Rockets
    The best practices in reading instruction, the Common Core classroom, digital learning, and using books effectively both inside and outside of the classroom.