Do you have an interest in reading? Have you thought about helping others learn how to read? Earning a literacy degree will help put you on a path to becoming a reading teacher or specialist where you can impact the lives of others.

What is literacy? Why is it important?

Literacy is the ability to read and write proficiently in a language. It encompasses a range of skills and competencies related to understanding and using written language. Proficiency in literacy is essential for effective communication, learning, and participation in modern society.

Literacy is a fundamental skill for formal education and for accessing knowledge and information daily. It empowers individuals to make informed decisions about their health, finances, and daily life. It enables critical thinking and problem-solving skills, enhancing personal agency.

What are some pros and cons of earning a literacy degree?

Earning a degree in literacy, particularly one focusing on literacy education or a similar field, can have several pros and cons. Considering these factors carefully before pursuing a degree is essential to determine if it aligns with your career goals and interests. Here are some pros and cons:


  1. Impact on students: A degree in literacy education allows you to make a significant impact on student’s lives by helping them improve their reading and writing skills, which are fundamental for academic success and lifelong learning.
  2. Career opportunities: Graduates with literacy degrees often have many career opportunities. They can work as literacy specialists, reading coaches, curriculum developers, and educators in schools, colleges, and various educational settings.
  3. Potential for advocacy: With a degree in literacy, you can become an advocate for literacy initiatives, promoting literacy awareness and influencing policies related to education and literacy.


  1. Time and cost: Pursuing a degree, especially at the graduate level, can be time-consuming and expensive. It may require several years of study and significant tuition costs.
  2. Salary: Some positions in literacy education may offer low wages, especially compared to other careers requiring advanced degrees.
  3. Challenging work: Teaching literacy can be emotionally and mentally demanding. It can be frustrating when progress could be faster, or students face significant literacy development barriers.

Ultimately, the decision to pursue a degree in literacy should align with your passion for teaching and literacy development. It’s essential to weigh the pros and cons, research potential career paths, and consider your long-term goals before committing to this field.

What can you do with a literacy degree?

A degree in literacy can open up various career opportunities that require strong communication, critical thinking, and analytical skills. Here are some potential career paths you can pursue with a literacy degree:

  • Reading Teacher
  • Reading Specialist
  • Curriculum Developer
  • Writer/Author
  • Content Creator

You can find opportunities in diverse sectors depending on your interests and additional skills. Let’s look at two career opportunities Concordia offers in the Masters of Literacy program.

All About Reading Teachers

A reading teacher is an educator who works directly with students in a K-12 setting who have difficulties with reading. Sometimes, they work in a general education classroom, supporting students during a literacy block or English language arts instruction.

A reading teacher will spend a lot of time working directly with students; this could be administering assessments or providing intervention. When not with students, a Reading Teacher might:

  • Evaluate data
  • Plan instruction
  • Select appropriate texts for students
  • Collaborate with classroom teachers
  • Communicate with parents
  • Put together materials to support other teachers with professional learning

According to Payscale, the average reading teacher salary is $45,176. However, this depends on experience and location.

Reading teachers are vital in helping students become proficient and confident readers. They work to ensure that students learn to decode words and understand and enjoy reading, which is essential for academic success and lifelong learning.

How to become a reading teacher

Becoming a reading teacher involves completing specific educational and certification requirements. Here are the general steps to start:

  • Earn a bachelor’s degree: Start by earning a bachelor’s degree in education, specifically focusing on elementary education, early childhood education, or a related field.
  • Gain teaching experience: Most aspiring reading teachers start their careers as classroom teachers. You can work as an elementary school teacher or in a related educational role to gain experience working with students.
  • Specialized coursework: Enroll in graduate-level courses or a master’s degree program in reading education or literacy. These programs provide specialized training in literacy instruction, assessment, and intervention.
  • Obtain state licensure: To become a reading teacher, you must meet your state’s specific certification requirements. Typically, it involves passing exams and completing teacher preparation programs, including student teaching or internships.

Researching the certification requirements in your state is essential. Additionally, networking with experienced educators and seeking mentorship can be valuable as you pursue a career in reading education.

All About Reading Specialists

A reading specialist holds an administrative license with specialized training and expertise in literacy development. They often work in a more technical capacity, usually as part of a school’s leadership team. Reading specialists work closely with teachers in a coaching capacity. They also decide on the literacy support the school or district will provide.

A reading specialist’s duties will vary from district to district depending on the number of Reading Specialists and their role in professional learning, curriculum development, and general leadership. Most reading specialists will spend much of their day collaborating with other Reading Teachers, Specialists, Classroom Teachers, and Administrators.

According to Payscale, the average reading specialist salary is $55,861. However, this depends on experience and location.

Reading specialists are crucial in helping students of all ages become proficient readers. They work to identify and address reading challenges early, provide targeted interventions, and support classroom teachers in improving literacy instruction. By doing so, they contribute to improved academic success and lifelong learning for students.

How to become a reading specialist

Becoming a reading specialist consists of completing specific educational and certification requirements. Here are the general steps to becoming a reading specialist:

  • Earn a bachelor’s degree: Start by earning a bachelor’s degree in education, specifically focusing on elementary education, early childhood education, or a related field.
  • Teaching experience: Gain teaching experience as a classroom teacher. Most reading specialists start their careers as teachers to develop a strong understanding of teaching methods, classroom management, and student needs.
  • Earn a degree in literacy or reading education: Enroll in a graduate-level program, such as a Master’s in Reading Education or Literacy.
  • Reading specialist licensure: Some states require additional licensure for reading specialists or literacy coaches.
  • Obtain state licensure: Check the certification requirements for reading specialists in your state or country. You may need to pass exams and complete specific teacher preparation programs, which can vary by location.

The steps to becoming a reading specialist may vary based on your location, so it’s essential to research the requirements in your area. Networking with experienced reading specialists and seeking mentorship can also be valuable as you pursue a career in this field.

Are reading teachers and specialists in high demand? Why?

Yes! One of the primary reasons why reading teachers and specialists are typically in demand is the fundamental nature of literacy. It is considered a foundational skill for academic success and lifelong learning. Students who struggle with reading and literacy may face challenges in other subjects, so there is a consistent need for educators who can help improve reading proficiency.

Moreover, there is a growing emphasis on early intervention in education to identify and address reading difficulties in young learners. Schools and educational institutions recognize the importance of catching reading problems early to prevent long-term academic struggles. Reading specialists play a crucial role in this early intervention process by providing targeted support to students with varying literacy needs, including those with learning disabilities or English language learners.

Teacher retirements and turnover also contribute to the demand for reading specialists. As experienced reading teachers and specialists retire, filling these positions with qualified professionals is necessary.

What makes Concordia’s Master’s in Literacy program unique?

Concordia’s Master’s in Literacy program offers the opportunity to earn a #1316 reading teacher license, #5017 reading specialist license, and a master’s degree.

Pursuing a Reading Teacher or Reading Specialist license allows having a life-changing impact on students’ trajectory as readers. Our program honors the realities of full-time educators by offering an efficient and manageable opportunity to grow professionally.

Additionally, the coursework is grounded in offering students the chance to immediately apply their learning in their current teaching role. As students complete the program, they’ll assert themselves as literacy leaders in their district.

How is Concordia University unique?

Concordia is a Lutheran Christian school that integrates those Christian values with our programs. In this model, students acquire knowledge and skills in liberal arts disciplines that prepare them to serve Christ in the Church and the world. We bring a holistic approach to every class we offer our students.

We challenge our students academically and allow them to grow spiritually with us in ways they may not find at other universities. Concordia is a community whose calling is to ensure student success and well-being.

How long does it typically take to complete the degree?

The length of the programs depends on how long you take to complete practicum hours and how many courses you take at once. The Reading Teacher license usually takes one year to complete. Our master’s degree with a Reading Specialist license can take around two years to finish.

Practicum/ Internship requirements

Students will complete 40 practicum hours for the #1316 reading teacher license. If you continue for the master’s degree and #5017 reading specialist license, this is a 75-hour internship requirement. They can complete the internship and practicum at their current district.

What format is offered? How long are the classes?

We offer the Master’s in Literacy program online or virtually. There are options for self-paced or collaborative courses. Classes are eight weeks each. The online format is very flexible but requires discipline and organization to set up a schedule to complete coursework on time.

Who are the faculty in the program? Will students have regular communication with them?

Our program consists of highly qualified instructors who have been classroom teachers, administrators, Reading Teachers, and Reading Specialists. Students will have regular communication with their instructors.

How much does the program cost?

This program is $690 per credit hour. The reading teacher license is 15 credits. The Master’s degree with a reading specialist license is 33 credits.

Are there scholarships available?

Yes! We have Uncommon Scholarships available for many qualified students. Our available scholarships include:

  • Business Community Scholarship: If you are an employee of one of our corporate partners, you may qualify for this scholarship.
  • Academic Community Scholarship: If you are an employee of one of our Preferred Education Partner schools or districts, you may qualify for this scholarship. 
  • Christian Community Scholarship: If you are an employee of any qualifying Christian church or Christian K-12 school, you may qualify for this scholarship. 
  • Alumni Scholarship: If you graduate from one of Concordia University System school programs, you may qualify for this scholarship.
  • Veterans and Dependents Scholarship: If you are a veteran, the spouse of a veteran, or a child of a veteran(age 17-26), you may qualify for this veteran scholarship when federal veteran education benefits are exhausted or unavailable to you. 

When funding your education, talk with your employer to see if they will be willing to pay a portion of your tuition. There may be funds, scholarships, or benefits their companies may offer.

Entrance Requirements

  • Bachelor’s Degree
  • Minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA for full acceptance
  • Teaching License Required
    • Must have an initial teaching license and two years of experience to apply for the #1316 Reading Teacher license.
    • Professional educator’s license, Master’s degree, and #1316 Reading Teacher license are required for the #5017 Reading Specialist license.

Admission Requirements

  • Apply Online
  • A one-page essay describing your reason for obtaining a graduate degree
  • Resume of your education and employment experience
  • Two signed letters of recommendation using the recommendation form
  • All official transcripts leading to your bachelor’s degree

Ready to jump in?

Whether you are ready or have more questions about earning a degree in literacy, we’re here to help.

Information provided by Kristen Braatz, Concordia’s Assistant Director for the Graduate Literacy program.