Educational Diagnostician Careers: Job Description & Salary Info

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What are the pros and cons of an educational diagnostician career? Get real job descriptions, career outlooks and salary info to see if becoming an educational diagnostician is right for you.
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An Educational Diagnostician Career: Pros and Cons

Educational diagnosticians perform assessments of students to evaluate whether they have learning disorders and qualify for special education services. In this role, you also work with special education teachers and other school professionals, like school psychologists, to develop plans to help students with learning challenges succeed. Consider these pros and cons to see if becoming an educational diagnostician is a good fit for you.

Pros of an Educational Diagnostician Career
Chance to have a positive impact in the lives of children with special needs*
Shortage of educational diagnosticians in many states makes this an in-demand career*
Because some districts pay educational diagnosticians using the administrative pay scale, salary potential is good*
Opportunities for advancement into supervisory or administrative roles*

Cons of an Educational Diagnostician Career
Extensive career preparation required (a minimum of two years to earn a master's degree in addition to 2-3 years of teaching experience)*
Challenges related to ensuring that kids get the services they need*
Involves juggling numerous responsibilities and a need for conflict-resolution skills*
Critical shortages of educational diagnosticians can lead to heavy caseloads*

Source: *Council for Exceptional Children.

Career Info

Job Description

Your primary role as an educational diagnostician is performing initial and follow-up psycho-educational assessments to help determine students' eligibility for special education services and measure students' progress. You analyze assessment results and share them with a team involved in developing individualized educational plans (IEPs), which are learning programs designed to address students' learning needs. Parents, students, teachers and administrators will need your assistance in interpreting test results. Periodically, you reevaluate students' progress to see if they're reaching their IEP goals; when necessary, you may recommend changes to the types of instruction students receive.

Job Outlook and Salary Info

Job Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn't collect job outlook data specifically for educational diagnosticians; however, job outlook data for special education teachers can provide a glimpse into job growth for this profession. Many special education teachers are trained specifically to teach and evaluate students with learning disabilities, and these teachers may move into educational diagnostician positions when they meet state certification training and experience requirements.

The BLS predicted jobs for special education teachers in general to grow by 6% from 2012-2022, which represents slower than average growth. Elementary, middle, and high school special education teachers specifically will also experience slower-than-average job growth of 6%, 5%, and 5% respectively, during the same decade. Job opportunities also vary by geographic location, with less growth in the Midwest and Northwest and more in the South and West.

Salary Info

Salary information specifically for educational diagnosticians isn't available through the BLS, either. Based on June 2015 figures collected from 94 respondents, PayScale.com reported a salary range for educational diagnosticians of about $44,000-$67,000. Educational diagnosticians in a Texas school district earned a median salary of around $58,000 in 2011, according to the Texas Tribune.

What Do Employers Look For?

School districts seek licensed professionals. Several graduate programs in special education provide an educational diagnostician certification option, and you can choose a complete master's degree program specific to this career. To qualify for licensure, you need to complete a program that fulfills state requirements for educational diagnostician training, which may mean taking a few courses beyond the standard master's degree program. If you already have a master's degree, you can complete a certification program independently. Online certificate and degree options that lead to educational diagnostician certification are abundant.

Many schools require applicants to be licensed teachers with teaching experience (typically 2-3 years) for program admission. During your studies, you'll learn about the needs of exceptional students, as well as methods for assessing and responding to them. Special education and diagnostician course topics may include learning theories, interpretation of cognitive assessment results, applied behavior analysis, learning disabilities, instructional strategies and intelligence testing. Your course of study will likely include a supervised internship or practicum. During your training, developing skills in relating to students of all ages, parents, administrators and teachers will help prepare you for your career.

Licensure Requirements

Though specific licensure requirements vary by state, you will typically need to earn a master's degree in education, complete state-determined amounts and types of educational diagnostician courses and acquire 2-3 years of teaching experience. The internship incorporated into your educational diagnostician certification program may be mandated by the state. Your state may also require you to pass a proficiency exam to become certified or licensed.

Job Postings from Real Employers

Educational diagnosticians qualified to serve students with learning disabilities are needed across the country. School districts hire licensed educational diagnosticians and may seek applicants with professional experience beyond that required for licensure. Districts in some states need educational diagnosticians who are bilingual because students need to take assessments in their primary language. Read these job postings reviewed in May 2012 to find out what real employers are looking for:

  • A school district in Texas is hiring a bilingual educational diagnostician with strong organizational and communication skills. Valid Texas teaching and educational diagnostician certifications for the state of Texas are required.
  • A California agency seeks an educational psychologist/diagnostician to provide districts with eligibility assessments, procure needed services, monitor students' progress and train staff. Licensure as a teacher and educational diagnostician, a master's degree and professional experience are required.
  • A school district in New Mexico is seeking an educational diagnostician to administer student assessments and manage interventions based on recommendations and needs. The job requires a master's degree, completion of an internship and certification.

How to Get an Edge in the Field

Continuing Education

Keeping your skills current through continuing education impresses employers. Membership in professional associations of educational diagnosticians may provide access to continuing education opportunities, like career-related symposia. The Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), an international professional organization for special education professionals, has a special-interest division called the Council for Educational Diagnostic Services. The CEC offers numerous professional development opportunities, including conferences and conventions. Through their various publications, you can learn about the latest research, practices and special education policies.

Get Certified

The National Educational Diagnosticians Board offers a Nationally Certified Educational Diagnostician (NCED) credential, which can be a mark of distinction valued by employers. If you meet the training and experience requirements, you can earn the certification by passing an exam. With this credential, you'll also have access to continuing education resources offered by the board, which include webinars and conferences.

Alternative Career Paths

Special Education Technology Specialist

If you're more interested in a special education job that focuses on technology rather than assessments, you may consider a career as a special education technology specialist (also commonly called assistive technology specialist). In this role, you provide students with special needs with educational and assistive technologies, like audio books, proofreading programs and talking calculators. Not all states require you to have a teaching license to work as a technology specialist; however, teaching or other experience in special education, as well as excellent computer skills, will help you get an entry-level job. To prepare for this career, you can take classes in special education technology as an undergraduate, and master's degree programs that can prepare you for supervisory positions are available.

The BLS doesn't collect job outlook and salary data for special education technology specialists; however, several factors may contribute to the growth of the need for special education services, according to the CEC. The number of children identified as eligible for special education services is increasing, and companies are manufacturing a wider variety of assistive and educational technology devices at more competitive prices. Professionals who can recommend devices for specific needs and train teachers in their use are therefore potentially more likely to be hired by school districts.

School Counselor

Like educational diagnosticians, school counselors may be part of teams that develop individualized educational plans for students with special needs; however, your general duties would be broader and vary depending on whether you worked in an elementary, middle or high school. You may help students with social problems through counseling, teach classes on bullying or college preparation, refer families to additional support services and use assessments to evaluate students' interests. You'll need to earn a master's degree and become state-licensed to work as a school counselor. The BLS predicted average job growth of 12% for school and career counselors between 2012 and 2022 and estimated that they earned a median salary of around $54,000 in May 2012.

School Psychologist

You can also consider a career as a school psychologist, in which you would share some responsibilities in common with educational diagnosticians. School psychologists may in some cases assess students who demonstrate signs of having a cognitive or learning impairment; however, they also evaluate and provide counseling to students with emotional and behavioral disorders. You'll need a master's degree to become a school psychologist, as well as become licensed by the state in which you work. The BLS predicted a faster-than-average increase in job growth of 11% for all psychologists from 2012-2022 and estimated that they earned an average salary of $68,000 in May 2012.

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Featured Schools

Purdue University Global

  • Master: Teaching (for Aspiring Teachers: Grades 5-12)
  • Master: Higher Education - College Admin./Leadership
  • BS in Early Childhood Administration

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Grand Canyon University

  • Ed.D. in Organizational Leadership - Behavioral Health
  • M.A. in Communication with an Emphasis in Education
  • BS in Early Childhood

What is your highest level of education?

American University

  • Master of Science in Instructional Design and Learning Analytics

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The George Washington University

  • Master of Arts in Education and Human Development in Educational Technology Leadership
  • Master of Arts in Education and Human Development in Organizational Leadership and Learning
  • Master of Arts in Education and Human Development in Educational Leadership and Administration

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Full Sail University

  • MS - Instructional Design and Technology
  • Cert - Instructional Design and Technology

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Colorado State University Global

  • MS - Teaching and Learning

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Regent University

  • Bachelor of Science in Psychology
  • Bachelor of Science in Professional Studies - Leadership Studies
  • Bachelor of Science in Professional Studies - Psychology

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Queens University of Charlotte

  • Master of Arts in Educational Leadership

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