Personnel Improvement Center
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Early Intervention Specialist/Early Childhood Special Educator

Nature of Work:

  • Work as a team member in providing for the needs of infants, toddlers, and young children, who have sensory and physical impairments, are cognitively and/or emotionally challenged, and/or have experienced environmental or
  • Interface with families and other service providers, such as occupational/physical therapists, social service-providers, and medical personnel, in planning, delivering, and evaluating interventions that positively impact the developmental needs of the child.
  • Provide direct services in a variety of settings - classroom, home, or center-based programs- that may include technical/medical interventions, as well as developmentally appropriate learning activities.

Education Required:

  • At least a Bachelors Degree with an endorsement for working as an Early Interventionist or teaching Early Childhood Special Education. Coursework would include developmental milestones, assessment of infants and very young children, and a wide array of disabling conditions in children birth to 5 years of age.
  • A Masters Degree in Early Childhood Special Education is offered at several of the large state universities.

Personal Qualities:

  • Good organization and collaboration skills.
  • High energy level and ability to handle multiple tasks simultaneously.
  • Interest in medical terminology and unusual medical conditions.
  • Ability to perform strenuous physical tasks, such as lifting and carrying young children.

Job Outlook and Advancement:

  • Current level of need for personnel in this career field is very high. Recent legislation has provided for more jobs, with many grants being awarded to non-profit agencies targeted at "seeking out" this population of children and serving them more effectively.
  • Advancement may come through promotion to supervisor status in agencies, which contract with school districts, or the district, itself.
  • Positions in Higher education- colleges and universities, as well as teachers in community colleges- are available for experienced early childhood special educators, and will become more in demand as the trend toward increased interventions/education for younger children continues.

How to Prepare for a Career:

  • Work in an early childhood or day care center that welcomes children with disabilities.
  • Visit a local early childhood center for children with disabilities, such as the Easter Seal Clinic or a public school setting that houses an Early Childhood classroom.
  • Talk to professionals in the field to get a good idea of the level of commitment and activity needed to perform this job well.
  • Inquire from your local community college and/or college/university about the availability of coursework that leads to this degree and certification.

Resource Information:

Division of Early Childhood of The Council for Exceptional Children
1444 Wazee Street, Suite 230
Denver, CO 80202
Phone: 303-620-4579
Fax: 303-620-4588

National Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center (NECTAC)
Campus Box 8040, UNC-CH
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-8040
Phone: (919)962-2001
Fax: (919)966-9463
TTY: (919)843-3269

Zero To Three/National Center for Infant, Toddlers and Families
734 15th Street, NW, 10th Floor
Washington, DC 20005-2101
Phone:(202) 638-1144
Fax: (202) 638-0851



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The National Center to Improve the Recruitment and Retention of Qualified Personnel for Children with Disabilities (Personnel Improvement Center). A Cooperative Agreement, H325C080001, between the US Department of Education and the National Association of State Directors of Special Education. Project Officer: Maryann McDermott
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NASDSE | 225 Reinekers Lane, Suite 420, Alexandria, VA 22314

Phone 703.519.3800 | Fax 703.519.3808
NASDSE