Educational Diagnosticians are a type of special education teacher who assesses, diagnoses and work with children with learning problems. These professionals operate under a number of titles. They may be called a learning consultant, or learning disabilities teacher, but their duties are the same. They work as part of a team of administrators to advise and determine appropriate learning strategies for struggling learners. This team usually includes school counselors, psychologists, and district social workers operating in conjunction with the parents. The goal is to evaluate the student from every angle to get a complete picture of why and how the child is under performing. Their solutions depend on student and campus environmental factors and the district’s resources, but may as simple as moving a child’s desk, all the way to modifying test conditions or recommending remedial classes, special education programs or tutoring.
In May 2014, Indeed.com reported the average salary of an educational diagnostician to be about $68,000, with the high end earning around $75,000. Educational diagnosticians are highly educated, and this is not an entry-level position. However, in the beginning, they may make about $41,000.
Keep up with state and federal regulations for special education programs
Receive student recommendations from teachers and perform evaluations
Understand and select testing and assessment tools
Evaluate test results and communicate the findings to appropriate people
Review and document student progress from teachers, parents and administrators, as well as evaluations obtained through one-on-one interviews and observatory meetings
Understand district resources and produce individual plans for student success
Act as a case manager and ombudsman between teachers, parents, the student, and sometimes community organizations
Assist teachers in implementing the student education plan
Monitor the program’s success and make changes as appropriate
Educational Diagnosticians must possess an analytical understanding of people, especially children. They must be detail-oriented and able creative, innovative thinkers. They will spend a lot of time explaining test results, resources, and education plans, so they ey must have great interpersonal skills. They will work closely with others as a member of an educational assessment team. They must be open to receiving feedback, and taking others thought into consideration. They will also create and maintain case documentation, so they must be have adequate written skills, and great organizational skills. Many of their cases deal with severely disabled children, so they must have great patience, and be able to handle emotional stress. They are also highly educated and certified.
Degree and Education Requirements:
To become an educational diagnostician, you must receive a professional certification. To receive this, you must be a certified teacher with experience, and have at least a Master’s degree in education. In your master’s program, you can pursue an Educational Diagnostician certification track. This includes courses such as, Educating Students with Emotional/Behavioral Disorders, Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports in Schools, Assessment and Evaluation of Students with Disabilities, Psychoeducational Assessment, Assessment and Evaluation of Students with Disabilities, in addition to a practicum.
If you have an Med in another track, or a master’s degree in another discipline, you may apply for certification through a graduate program. Your program adviser will evaluate your previous coursework and come up with a deficiency plan, where you will be required you to take extra courses and then complete an exam in special education.
Pros and Cons of an Educational Diagnostician Career:
A career as an educational diagnostician can be highly rewarding. It can allow you to change the lives of special needs children and their families. You will also help struggling children find their way toward bright futures they didn’t even know they could attain. Like many careers in education, you are working with the next generation of your community. How they are shaped, particularly the struggling ones, can have an impact for decades. Further, this is a highly specialized in-demand position commanding good pay from the start. After a few years, you can into higher levels of district work, leading to higher salaries.
Unfortunately, because of the highly specialized nature of the job, you do have to spend a lot of time an preparation to move into this field. You must spend at least two to three years working as a teacher to even begin pursuing the training. The graduate coursework can be costly as well, although many school districts offer tuition reimbursement programs for teachers pursuing graduate work. Further, many of the students will have high needs that your district may or may not be able to meet. Trying to work around these limitations can be stressful, in addition to the everyday challenges of working with special needs children. While the overall shortage of educational diagnoticians can to lead to job security, it also means districts and communities are understaffed in this area. This can mean you have heavy caseloads and may work with multiple schools and districts. Further, the regulations regarding special education can be complex, and change frequently. This requires constantly juggling new parameters that may or may not seem to be practical.
Getting Started in This Career:
To begin as an educational diagnostician, you must first obtain a bachelor’s degree in education (Find a Bachelor’s in Education), a specialization in special education is especially helpful. Then, you must receive your teacher certification license. Once you do that, you must work as a teacher for two to three years and then begin your master’s certification.
The National Clearinghouse for Professionals in Special Education also suggests that students looking for a career as an educational diagnostician could boost their credentials with volunteer work with disabled individuals. They recommend the Association of Retarded Citizens, the National Easter Seal Society, or the Special Olympics. Visit their website for additional resources on how to get and stay involved in special education as a student.
Projected job growth is good. The shortage of professionals in this area, causes a high-demand for this job. Special needs children will continue to need assistance in school districts, and continued research in learning and development will cause more demand for individuals with specialized understanding of struggling learners. As increased laws and regulations burden teachers, they may be forced to allow fringe students to fall through the cracks, creating a higher need for specialized professionals in this area.
To understand what employers look for, consider these job ads from May 2014:
-A prep school system in Texas seeks an educational diagnostician, preferably bilingual in Spanish. They must have a Master’s degree in Education, Psychology, or a related field, and have at least three years of teaching experience. It is a ten-month commitment, requiring travel to different schools in the district, and offers full benefits.
-A school district in Kentucky seeks an educational diagnostician to work in the district office. They must be certified in special education, and state certified in Elementary or Middle School education.
-A school district in New Mexico seeks an educational diagnostician with three years of teaching experience, a master’s degree in educational assessment, a valid teaching certificate, and a valid educational diagnostician certification.
Educational diagnosticians develop programs to assist disabled and struggling students, usually in the public school system. These highly trained and well-paid individuals have unique opportunities to give into a child’s life in a way that few others could. The job does require an intense amount of patience, organizational and interpersonal skills, but this is a position that is not going anywhere.
For further reading: Top 10 Online PhD in Special Education Programs