Resource Specialist Job Description
Resource specialists teach students who have special needs and work with them to ensure their educational success. This is a skilled position that requires a college education and a high amount of passion for working with children who have special needs. Resource specialists work primarily in schools and typically work during standard school hours. They report directly to school administrators like principals and vice principals.
Resource Specialist Duties and Responsibilities
No two resource specialists are exactly alike, as specific skills vary from employer to employer. However, after analyzing online job postings, we have identified several core duties and responsibilities common to the job:
Teach Special Needs Students
Resource specialists provide educational instruction to special needs students. They teach special classes with a modified curriculum to match the developmental level and needs of the students.
Counsel Students in Life Skills
Resource specialists counsel special needs students in both life and professional skills. They’re responsible for preparing students to perform well in school, social circles, and professional jobs. This often includes roleplaying with students to evaluate their knowledge and ability.
Work with Parents and Teachers
Resource specialists work regularly with both parents and teachers to report progress and talk about any problems or incidents that are affecting a student’s ability to succeed. This typically means more parent-teacher conferences on a more regular basis.
Implement Individualized Education Programs for Students
Resource specialists work hard to create and implement individualized education programs (IEPs) for their students. These IEPs are distributed to other teachers, and resource specialists are responsible for ensuring these plans are followed correctly.
Identify Developmental Hindrances
Resource specialists pay close attention to their students’ progress and interactions with teachers and other students to identify developmental roadblocks that may hinder educational progress. They also keep detailed documentation about these roadblocks in order to report on them to parents and teachers.
Resource Specialist Skills and Qualifications
Resource specialists are patient individuals who are passionate about teaching. Most resource specialists have bachelor’s degrees, and many employers look for candidates who have at least one to two years of experience in a teaching-related position. Employers also look to hire candidates who possess the following skills and qualifications:
- Experience working with special needs students – resource specialists should have previous experience working with people who have special needs, whether that be through volunteer work or previous teaching experience
- Previous teaching experience – since resource specialists need to dedicate more to their teaching skills, they should already have experience teaching, either with students who have special needs or not
- Curriculum planning skills – resource specialists plan a classroom curriculum according to the long-term classroom agenda. They know how to create or research fun and educational activities as part of their curriculum
- Patience – working with and teaching students with special needs can be frustrating work. As such, resource specialists possess a high amount of patience that allows them to perform their duties well
- Communication skills – resource specialists are highly communicative, especially through verbal means. They know how to clearly communicate with students who often have issues communicating properly. They also know how to communicate clearly with other faculty and parents
Tools of the Trade
Resource specialists may use the following tools as part of their job:
- Classroom management software (Google Classroom, Blackboard, Moodle, Canvas)
- Classroom equipment (AV equipment, computers, tablets)
Resource Specialist Education and Training
To get a job, resource specialists need to have at least a bachelor’s degree in an education-related field. Many employers also require candidates to possess further education or training in special education. Resource specialists are also bound by the same licensing requirements that teachers have. Specific requirements may vary state by state.
Resource Specialist Salary Outlook
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) lists the average median salary for resource specialists—and other special education teachers—as around $59,000 per year. Salary can vary depending on the grade level of the students the resource specialists assists, with those at the high school level earning a little more than $60,000 per year. The highest-earning resource specialists can make upwards of around $95,000 per year, while the lowest-earning resource specialists can make as little as around $39,000 per year.
Resource specialists are typically eligible to receive benefits packages that include health insurance, retirement and pension plans, and paid time off.
The BLS also reports that resource specialists can expect to experience a growth in demand of about eight percent in the coming decade. This is an average growth rate, but it may vary depending on each type of educational institute.
Check out some of these helpful resources to learn more about resource specialists and their role in education:
The National Association of Special Education Teachers – this professional organization is one of the biggest resources for resource specialists and other special education teachers across the nation. It provides opportunities for networking and also features articles and other publications with helpful information.
Learning Disabilities Online – this website is a one-stop shop for educators of all kinds who teach kids with learning disabilities. It features research-based articles and posts, along with helpful curriculum resources and activities. You can also find helpful videos to give you more ideas.
10 Critical Components for Success in the Special Education Classroom – this book is billed as the “blueprint for building structure, consistency, and accountability” in a classroom with students who have special needs. It focuses on classroom organization, individualized education plans, and parent communication, among other topics.
The Survival Guide for New Special Education Teachers – this book covers everything you need to know as a new resource specialist coming into your first special education classroom. It provides real-world examples and scenarios that help you fully understand what you can do to provide the best education to your students.
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