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Intervention Specialist: What is the Job Description?

Intervention Specialist: What is the Job Description?

Timely, effective interventions are essential to the success of students. Especially for those at high risk. Students have so much to deal with -- academic pressures, social pressures, anxiety, uncertainty about the future, -- their social-emotional needs are more important than ever. For these needs to be met, and for them to get the support they need to succeed in their classes academically, many students need targeted, small group, or even one-on-one support. To help fill this need, many schools look for an intervention specialist.

Are you interested in becoming, or hiring, an intervention specialist? What exactly do they do, and why can this be such a rewarding job? An intervention specialist is someone who works with students who are struggling in a range of academic, emotional, or behavioral areas. They may work with students who have an individualized education plan (IEP), and most often in primary and middle schools. They work with the school and often the district to design, implement, and evaluate intervention programs.

Job Requirements

  • Typically at least a Bachelor's degree in special education or a related field
  • A teaching license in the state you plan to work in (this may be optional depending on the state)

What does the job include?

  • Ensure students get the support they need, when they need it. This involves knowing what a student needs, the options that are available, and how interventions will be delivered.
  • Examining available data to make informed decisions about what students need. This enables them to group students accordingly, and ensure those interventions will be truly effective.
  • Intervention specialists work closely with teachers and administration to plan and implement intervention plans.
  • Monitor and evaluate current intervention programs for effectiveness. 

What skills are needed?

One of the most important skills needed in an intervention specialist is the ability to work collaboratively with others. This job requires frequent communication with teachers, department heads, and in team-based settings. It also involves collaborating with the students themselves and likely parents. 

An intervention specialist should also be skilled in communicating with children, especially those with special needs. Qualities like patience and genuine concern for the student's well-being would be important. An intervention specialist must be able to evaluate a student, and also help provide interventions and manage any challenging behaviors. Maintaining calm, modeling respectful behavior and being consistent are all qualities that would be useful.

What are the challenges?

An intervention specialist position is challenging because it requires managing a number of students, often with special needs. So on a day to day, or even hour by hour basis, student needs and behaviors could be unpredictable and require constant attention. This could result in both physical, and mental and emotional exhaustion. If the workload is particularly big and an intervention doesn't receive enough support, burnout could result.  It may also be challenging to collaborate effectively with teachers, administrators, and parents because it could require taking differing needs, ideas, and expectations into account. 

What makes it interesting?

Despite the challenges, being an intervention specialist can be a rewarding and interesting position. An intervention specialist has the chance to truly make a difference in the lives of students. This job puts them in a unique position to communicate with a student who is struggling, as well as their parents and educators, to figure out a plan that will best meet that student's needs, and see the successes that come with that.

In addition, working various staff members within the district means that they will able to get to know the climate of the school well, and build relationships with staff members. Also, in many schools an intervention specialist may actually focus on providing intervention in one content area, so this could be an opportunity to learn more about a subject, or perhaps get to work in one that they're already interested in. An intervention specialist may not have an easy job, but it's one that can certainly be fulfilling and active. And most importantly, it can help support students and ensure their well-being.