Career Pathways Tool >> Working with Directors

My ideal career is a:

Topic Specialist

Topic specialists provide resources, training, and technical assistance to teachers and programs to support the use of best practices in a particular area. Examples of specialty areas include early intervention, accreditation, outdoor learning, child health, school-age care, child behavior, curriculum and infant toddler care. Specialists provide on-site technical assistance and mentor and train teachers to increase awareness of available resources and effective strategies. The work of a specialist may be very narrowly defined (i.e., to support the needs of a particular child, direct intervention or planning small group activities) or it may be broader such as classroom quality or the availability of particular services or program.

Specialists must be willing to continually seek out, learn about and share available resources. This task requires collaboration with consultants, early care and education programs, technical assistance personnel and local community services. They may also be involved in the collection and compilation of data using simple survey tools, project evaluation and quarterly reporting on the services provided.

Working as a topic specialist requires ongoing training to keep abreast of the latest research and best practices to inform their work. Continuing topic education may lead to the specialist developing written articles for use in an agency newsletter or as a supplement for training on a specific content area.

Topic specialists must possess effective oral and written communication skills, have computer experience and be comfortable working with colleagues and a diverse client population both internal and external to the organization. This role requires an in-depth understanding of state child care licensing and programmatic requirements. Specialists must be able to juggle many responsibilities while paying close attention to detail. Often this role requires the management of both administrative work and what may be a large caseload of technical assistance and trainings. A number of states are beginning to require approval or certification of those who provide this specialized type of professional development or technical assistance.

Job possibilities at:

Child care resource and referral agencies

Professional associations

Public and nonprofit agencies

Local health department

Recommended education:

Bachelor’s or graduate degree in Early Childhood Education, Child Development, or Child Psychology

A degree in Youth Development, Education or Recreation for those planning to work with school-age children

Additional advanced coursework in the specialty area

Typical salary range:

$26,420 – $67,030