How Do You Become an Early Interventionist?

Going to college is just one of the steps you will take on your path to become an early interventionist. An early interventionist, sometimes called an early intervention specialist, is someone who works with children of a younger age who exhibit signs of impairments. They work with children diagnosed with conditions like autism, but they also work with children who develop at a slower rate than their peers. As an interventionist, you might work with babies, toddlers and slightly older children too.

Finish a College Degree

You cannot work as an interventionist without first going to college. While some students major in early childhood education or early childhood development, you might consider majoring in special education. Many of the children you will work with later fall under this category. They suffer from developmental delays, including having issues with walking, crawling, talking or doing other simple tasks, according to the Center for Parent Information and Resources. A special education program will teach you how to work with these children. You’ll also have the chance to observe teachers in special education classrooms and work with some of those students too.

Obtain Your Graduate Degree

Though it’s possible to become an early interventionist with just a bachelor’s degree, many employers now prefer that job seekers either have a master’s degree or be on their way to completing a graduate degree. Look for special education master’s programs that have a concentration or emphasis in early childhood intervention. These programs go beyond simply working with younger children to ensure that you know which milestones kids reach at different ages, what factors can delay their development and what interventionists to help those students progress. Many programs include a fieldwork component that requires you spend at least 900 to 1,100 hours working in a supervised setting with special education students.

Gain Experience With Kids

The more experience you have working with kids, the more you’ll learn about their development. It’s one thing to read about the symptoms of autism in your textbook, but it’s another thing to actually see those symptoms for yourself. Look into ways that you can help younger children while in college or grad school. You might do therapy techniques with children who have autism, volunteer to work in a community center or after school program for children with developmental delays or even work as a substitute teacher in a special needs classroom.

Get Your Teaching License

To become an early interventionist, you may also need a teaching license. A teaching license is a requirement for any interventionist working in a school or for a school district. Make sure that you look at the requirements put in place by your specific state. You may need to go to the police department, let officers take your fingerprints and sign a statement that authorizes the state to do a criminal background check on you. Some states may require that you pass a teaching license exam, that you have a college degree, that you will enroll in a graduate program or that you have some practical teaching experience on your resume.

Related Resource: Adult Education

Early interventionist help parents feel better about the developmental delays seen in their children and help those children develop better skills. To become an early interventionist and work with those children and their parents, you need a bachelor’s degree, graduate degree, practical experience and a teaching license.