Reading Teacher Careers: Job Description & Salary Information

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What are the pros and cons of a career as a reading teacher? Get real job duties, career prospects and salary info to see if becoming a reading teacher is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of Becoming a Reading Teacher

Reading teachers work with students in kindergarten through the 12th grade to assess their reading development, help improve their reading proficiency and comprehension, and help students discover the joys of reading. Read on to explore the various pros and cons of being a reading teacher to help you decide if this is the career for you.

Pros of a Reading Teacher Career
Average growth in job opportunities for lower grades (12% increase expected for the kindergarten, elementary school teachers from 2012-2022)*
Pay is above average for lower grades (median annual wage for kindergarten teachers was nearly $53,090 in 2013 and $53,900 for elementary school teachers)*
Can be a rewarding profession*
Typically have summers off*

Cons of a Reading Teacher Career
Slower than average-growth field for secondary school teachers (6% growth from 2012-2022)*
Public schools require advanced degrees and multiple certifications*
Entry-level education requires at least a bachelor's degree*
Stressful work*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Career Information

Job Description and Duties

Reading teachers work with students in a classroom setting, often providing individual instruction and assistance to help students develop literacy skills. These professionals evaluate the reading levels of their students, then create lesson plans that will encourage each to read and advance in proficiency. Each level of education requires a different approach to achieving the ultimate goal of literacy in students.

For instance, a kindergarten teacher might use props to help students develop basic reading skills, while a high school teacher will challenge a student's foundation with more advanced reading material and assignments. In most cases, teachers work during school hours, though after-school duties sometimes last through the evenings. Typically, professionals work for ten months during the school year and enjoy a 2-month break for the summer.

Job Prospects

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), kindergarten, elementary and middle school teachers are predicted to experience a 12% growth in employment from 2012-2022 (www.bls.gov). Employment for high school teachers is expected to increase by only 6% during that same time frame. This growth will vary by region and is most likely due to the combined increase in enrollment and the decline in student-teacher ratios. The best job prospects should be available in the South and West, as well as in urban and rural school districts.

Salary Information

In May 2014, the BLS reported that kindergarten teachers earned a median annual wage of roughly $50,000. The 10th percentile earned an annual wage around $33,000, while the 90th percentile earned around $78,000. That same year, elementary school teachers earned a median annual wage greater than $54,000. The tenth percentile at this level of education earned around $36,000, while the 90th percentile earned roughly $84,000.

Also according to the BLS, middle school teachers earned a median annual wage of about $55,000, with the tenth percentile earning an annual wage of roughly $37,000 and the 90th percentile earning about $85,000 that same year. High school teachers earned a median annual wage of about $56,000. The tenth percentile at this level of education earned about $38,000, and the 90th percentile earned an annual wage of about $89,000 in May 2014.

What Are the Requirements?

Most teachers at the kindergarten through secondary school levels are required to possess at least a bachelor's degree; however, most public schools prefer to hire teachers with a master's degree in education. In addition, public schools also require teachers to be certified or licensed through the state. Reading teachers might need to obtain a specific reading specialist certification, depending on their location.

Typically, private schools do not require licensure or certification, but certification could help your job prospects. Teachers must participate in annual professional development courses to maintain their certifications.

What Employers Are Looking for

Necessary skills in this field include strong communication and instructional skills. Creativity and patience are also beneficial. Here are examples of what real employers looked for during May 2012:

  • A school located in Virginia posted a job listing for a reading specialist with a teaching license from the state of Virginia. Candidates with a master's degree were preferred, as well as those with teaching experience at the elementary level.
  • An elementary school in Pennsylvania advertised for a reading specialist with a minimum of three years teaching experience. In addition, candidates were required to be certified as elementary and reading specialists.
  • A private school in Pennsylvania sought a reading specialist who was certified in special education. In addition, candidates needed to be certified through the state of Pennsylvania as a reading specialist. Duties included assessing the reading capabilities of students and providing individual instruction for emotionally disturbed children.

How to Get an Edge in the Field

Advanced degrees and certification are the best ways to stand out in the field as a reading teacher. You can obtain your reading specialist certification in combination with a master's or doctorate degree program in education. These graduate level programs include the study of reading, writing and language. Certification as a reading specialist complements the standard teaching license and provides better job prospects. Furthermore, earning a Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) or a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D) in language and literacy can help you advance in this career.

Alternative Career Paths

Adult Literacy Educator

If you would rather work with older students who are no longer in school but still need help learning to read, you might be interested in becoming an adult literacy or GED educator. These positions have education requirements similar to reading teachers. The BLS predicted an increase in job opportunities of 15% from 2010-2020. The median annual wage for adult literacy and GED instructors was close to $47,000 in 2010. Unlike traditional school teachers, adult literacy teachers might have to teach in the mornings or evenings to work around students' work schedules.

Librarian

If you are more interested in working with reading and literature than in teaching in a classroom setting, then working as a librarian might be a better career for you. The entry-level education requirement is typically a master's degree in library science, and employment can be found in public libraries, colleges and schools. However, according to the BLS, employment is expected to grow by 7% from 2010-2020, which is slower than average. In May 2011, librarians earned a median annual wage of roughly $55,000, which is also slightly lower than average.

Instructional Coordinator

Many teachers choose to advance to the role of instructional coordinators. Professionals oversee the teaching standards and curriculums of various schools. A master's degree is required, and in some cases, professionals must also be licensed as school administrators. Job opportunities in this field are expected to grow at a faster than average rate of 20% from 2010-2020; however, in May 2010, the median annual wage for an instructional coordinator was around $59,000, which is also slightly lower than average.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Saint Joseph's University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MS in Education - Special Education and Wilson Reading System Certification
      • MS in Education - Special Education and Wilson Reading System Certification
  • Online Programs Available
    2. American InterContinental University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master: Education - Curriculum and Instruction
      • Master: Education - Leadership in Educational Organizations
      • Master of Education - Elementary Education
      • Master of Education - Secondary Education
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Colorado Technical University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctor of Management - Graduate Level Instructional Practices
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Kaplan University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master: Teaching (for Aspiring Teachers: Grades 5-12)
      • Master: Education (for Practicing Teachers: K-12)
      • Master: Higher Education - Online College Teaching
      • Master: Higher Education - College Teaching/Learning
    Bachelor's
      • BS in Early Childhood Administration
      • Undergraduate in Early Childhood
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    5. CDI College

    Program Options

    Certificate
      • Certificate in Early Childhood Education
      • Diploma in Early Childhood Education JEE.13 (Techniques D'ducation L'enfance - JEE.13)
  • Online Programs Available
    6. Penn Foster High School

    Program Options

    High School Diploma
      • Penn Foster High School with Early College Courses
      • HS Diploma
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Featured Schools

Saint Joseph's University

  • MS in Education - Special Education and Wilson Reading System Certification

What is your highest level of education completed?

American InterContinental University

  • Master: Education - Curriculum and Instruction
  • Master: Education - Leadership in Educational Organizations
  • Master of Education - Elementary Education

Are you a US citizen?

Colorado Technical University

  • Doctor of Management - Graduate Level Instructional Practices

Are you a US citizen?

Kaplan University

  • Master: Teaching (for Aspiring Teachers: Grades 5-12)
  • Master: Education (for Practicing Teachers: K-12)
  • BS in Early Childhood Administration
  • Undergraduate in Early Childhood

Which subject are you interested in?

CDI College

  • Certificate in Early Childhood Education
  • Diploma in Early Childhood Education JEE.13 (Techniques D'ducation L'enfance - JEE.13)

What year did you graduate high school?

Penn Foster High School

  • Penn Foster High School with Early College Courses
  • HS Diploma

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