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Become an Early Intervention Specialist: Step-by-Step Career Guide

Learn about a career as an early intervention specialist. Research the job description, and the education and licensing requirements to make an informed decision about starting a career in early intervention.

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Step 1: Complete a Bachelor's Degree Program in Special Education or a Different Relevant Field

Early interventionists work with young children and their families in order to provide support for those displaying developmental delays, as well as those with established environmental and biological risk factors. For those hoping to become early intervention specialists, several degrees may be considered of value. Often, early intervention targets at-risk children in the age range of 0-3, so undergraduate training in special education or other relevant fields may be desirable. Physical, speech or occupational therapy might be other specializations relevant to this career at the bachelor's level since a range of disabilities may need to be addressed.

Step 2: Earn a Master's Degree in Special Education with a Focus on Early Childhood Intervention

Programs that prepare specialists for careers in early childhood intervention may be part of broader special education programs, stand-alone programs, or certificate programs focused on meeting licensure requirements. Interested students can enroll in these programs and select a concentration or relevant coursework for early childhood intervention. Relevant coursework might include:

  • Assessment of young children
  • Working with parents in special education
  • Behavioral problems and classroom intervention
  • Understanding special needs children
  • Child development theory, ages 0-8
  • Understanding risk factors in special needs children

Step 3: Complete Licensure Requirements

All states require licensure for special education teachers who work in or through public schools. In most cases, licenses are available through state departments of education. For early intervention specialists who may work with children too young to participate in formal education, licensure may be required to take part in state-sponsored or funded programs. This license is not required in all states, and requirements may vary from state to state. Some states may require specific educational courses, while others may also accept portfolios for review based on previous work and education.

Step 4: Get the Job

In 2013, PayScale.com indicated that the median annual salary for early intervention specialists is $36,758. Salaries could reach $50,000 in public education institutions and human services agencies.

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