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An early intervention specialist works to provide help and support to a young child who has special needs. The requirements for a person who wants to become an early intervention specialist depend on where the individual hopes to work. In some places, a person must have a bachelor’s degree to get started in this field, while other jurisdictions may allow a person to start with high school education and training. Some places even have different job levels for this title, starting with jobs for those with high school diplomas and moving up to positions reserved for those with advanced degrees and years of experience.
The exact job description for an early intervention specialist may vary somewhat, depending on where a person works. In general, however, a person with this title provides help for infants and toddlers who have special needs. The type of assistance this person provides often depends on the unique situation. For example, some children may need help developing language skills while others may need help developing motor skills. In some cases, a child’s family needs assistance as well, and this specialist may help the child's parents grow more self-sufficient or find ways to cope with the challenges they face.
While there may be much variation in the level of education required to become an early intervention specialist, a person may have a good chance of landing this job after earning a bachelor’s degree. Common degree choices for a person who wants to become an early intervention specialist include psychology, sociology, or social work. An individual may also prepare for this career by pursuing a degree in health, education, or mental health counseling. Typically, a person who wants to pursue this career can find an entry-level position after earning a bachelor’s degree, but earning a master’s degree or higher may better his chances for eventual advancement.
In some places, a person may need licensing or certification to become an early intervention specialist. Though the procedures for securing licensing or certification vary, they often include paying a fee and taking an exam. In some cases, a person may be expected to secure licensing or certification after he has already started a job in this field. For example, an employer may provide a new early intervention specialist with training that leads to licensing or certification. In fact, some types of certification are only available after a person has gained a minimum level of experience.
Once a person has prepared to become an early intervention specialist, he may begin his job search. He may find job openings through online job sites and newspaper help-wanted ads. Many people, however, learn of these job openings by contacting their jurisdiction’s civil service or government job office.
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