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Early Intervention Specialist Training and Degree Program Information

Research early intervention specialist certificate and master's degree programs. Get information about courses, licensing, requirements, career options and salary to make an informed decision about your education.

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Essential Information

Many schools offer certificate and master's degree programs in early intervention, some online. These programs teach students to work with babies and toddlers with special needs and may qualify graduates to seek state certification to teach young children with special needs. These programs require a bachelor's degree for admission. Many certificate programs require a teacher's license. Some master's programs may offer general teacher education in addition to training in early intervention.

Certificate programs usually consist of fewer than 10 courses, and some prerequisite courses in the fundamentals of special education may be required. The courses cover topics such as assessment of children with disabilities, program planning and current issues in special education. An internship in a classroom is mandatory.

The length of a master's program varies, depending on if the student is pursuing initial certification. In addition to classroom work, the program may include home visits, family consultations and field experiences working with children of differing ages. Courses teach students about assessments and goals as well as instructional strategies.


Early Intervention Specialist Certificate Licensure Programs

Early Intervention Specialist licensure certificate programs prepare students to provide intervention services to disabled children from birth to age 5. These post-baccalaureate programs also qualify students for state certification in early childhood intervention. Programs cover a range of topics, including child care, family support and nutrition. Students additionally learn about the early identification of disabilities and abnormalities, advocacy and family-focused intervention. Graduates apply their skills to the intensive care and education of children experiencing a range of disabilities.

Education Prerequisites

Schools offering graduate certificate programs require a bachelor's degree for admission. In addition, some programs may require proof that an applicant is certified in preschool or primary education. Some programs also require that students complete prerequisite coursework in special education and legal issues prior to admission.

Course Topics

Students gain the skills required to design, implement and monitor early intervention services and advocate on behalf of children with disabilities. Coursework provides an understanding of team approaches to working with disabled children and the importance of working with multiple agencies to reach intervention goals. Programs may include the following courses:

  • Child development and growth
  • Nutrition
  • Infant development
  • Educational practices
  • Curriculum activities
  • Screening and assessment
  • Special education programming
  • Instructional planning for young children

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that special education teachers could expect average job growth from 2010 through 2020, with a predicted growth of 17% during this decade (www.bls.gov). Special education teachers reported median annual earnings of $53,220 as of 2010.

Licensing Information

Graduates seeking teaching opportunities in public schools must gain state licensure prior to gaining employment. Licensure requirements are determined by each state, and generally require that an individual has a minimum of a bachelor's degree, has graduated from an approved teaching program and has supervised teaching experience. Some states additionally offer a general special education license or licenses for specific areas.


Master's Degree in Early Childhood Intervention

Master's degree programs in early childhood intervention prepare students to work with young children with or at risk of developing special needs. Students learn concepts related to instructional methods, behavioral management, the needs of special education learners and the technologies used in special education environments. These programs often qualify students for state special education teacher licensing for young children. Some programs also offer separate options for students who already possess their initial teaching licensure and for students who wish to acquire standard licensure.

Education Prerequisites

Master's degree programs require that candidates possess bachelor's degrees. Some programs require the completion of related coursework, such as child development, at the undergraduate level.

Furthermore, students may be required to demonstrate competency in concepts closely related to their chosen specialization, such as sign language for those specializing in teaching children with hearing impairments.

Course Topics

Students may decide to focus their learning in a specific area of early intervention, such as teaching the hearing impaired. As a result, course topics will reflect each student's selected career track. Programs may include the following courses:

  • Language and hearing development
  • Sign language
  • Teaching literacy to deaf children
  • Applying technology in special education
  • Phonics and language structure
  • Special needs learning assessment
  • Interventions for special needs learners

Popular Career Options

Graduates of master's degree programs have several career options in special education and intervention programs. Graduates find work in rehabilitative programs, hospitals, non-profit organizations and schools. Some popular career options include the following:

  • Developmental specialist
  • Teacher
  • Early interventionist
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