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Literacy and reading comprehension programs help students learn some of the most important skills across the entire educational spectrum. These education programs run the gamut, encompassing both children learning to read and adults seeking English language education. Aspiring educators enrolled in literacy and reading degree programs are taught strategies and techniques that can help them pass along this essential skill.

Here are a few aspects of the job many literacy education careers have in common:

  • Using assessments to determine each student's potential strong and weak points
  • Developing lesson plans based on individual and cumulative levels of skill in class
  • Watching out for potential learning disabilities in students
  • Working with students one-on-one to help them overcome individual difficulties
  • Monitoring student progress as classroom material becomes more complex

The level of education required of literacy and reading teachers can depend on the environment in which they're employed -- a preschool teacher, for example, typically will not need as much education as an adult literacy specialist at a university -- but even positions that do not require literacy and reading degrees usually require some sort of formal education in a related subject.

Coursework in literacy and reading degree programs

Coursework schedules for literacy and reading degrees tend to differ based on the specific goals of the program, but certain fundamental concepts do tend to find their way into most degree plans.

Here are a few subjects that literacy and reading majors are likely to study on their way to graduation:

  • Foundations of reading
  • Elementary language arts
  • Children's literature
  • Psycholinguistics
  • Writing process and assessment
  • Diagnostic procedures for literacy
  • Language development

Many institutions offer literacy and reading degrees at the master's level and above, where degrees in early childhood or adult education can be narrowed to focus deeply on one or more aspects of the discipline. Candidates for bachelor's degrees in education at some universities may have the option to take courses designed for literacy and reading majors, and graduate certificates in literacy and reading may be available for trained educators looking to add to their skillset.

Career outlook for professionals with literacy and reading degrees

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job opportunities for adult literacy and high school equivalency diploma teachers are expected to grow by 9 percent between 2012 and 2022, which works out to nearly 7,000 potential new jobs in the field. Projections show the employment of preschool teachers and kindergarten or elementary school teachers increasing by 17 percent and 12 percent respectively in the same period.

Here's how BLS numbers place median annual income for various related education fields in 2013:

  • Preschool teachers: $27,570
  • Kindergarten teachers: $50,230
  • Elementary school teachers: $53,590
  • Adult basic and secondary education and literacy teachers: $51,110

Literacy and reading majors who go on to earn master's degrees might also find work as librarians, who earned a 2013 median wage of $55,690. Jobs as instructional coordinators, who design curriculum plans and develop teaching standards for educational institutions, may also be available to literacy and reading grads with master's degrees. Instructional coordinators earned a median salary of $60,610 in 2013.

"Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, January 8, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/kindergarten-and-elementary-school-teachers.htm
"Adult Literacy and High School Equivalency Diploma Teachers," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, January 8, 2014, www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/adult-literacy-and-ged-teachers.htm
"Preschool Teachers," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, January 8, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/preschool-teachers.htm
"25-2011 Preschool Teachers," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 22, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes252011.htm
"25-2012 Kindergarten Teachers, Except Special Education," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 22, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes252012.htm
"25-2021 Elementary School Teachers," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 22, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes252021.htm
"25-3011 Adult Basic and Secondary Education and Literacy Teacher and Instructors," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 22, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes253011.htm
"25-4021 Librarians," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 22, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes254021.htm
"25-9031 Instructional Coordinators," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 22, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes259031.htm

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