What Degree Do You Need to Work in Early Intervention?

December 22, 2021

Do you love children and have a passion for helping them learn and grow? You have the beginnings of what it takes to be an early intervention specialist!

What Does An Early Intervention Specialist Do?

An EI works with families and children with developmental delays or disabilities by first assessing the child, then creating and implementing a personalized plan using age-appropriate games to help him or her overcome developmental obstacles. 

An EI also provides family members with the tools and resources they need to support their child’s learning and growth. This is a career that’s highly rewarding for those passionate about making a difference in the lives of children and their families! 

What Degree & Credentials are Necessary to Be an EI?

Of course, though an EI helps children learn and develop through play, this job isn’t all just fun and games! You do need to have some educational qualifications and experience. 

You Must Have Earned a Bachelor's Degree in a Related Field

You do need a bachelor’s degree to be an EI, but that degree can be in a range of child development fields. Common degrees held by successful EIs include: 

  • Early Childhood Development — This area of study focuses on the early educational development of children from infancy to preschool and kindergarten age, perfect for becoming an EI!  
  • Education/Special Education — Many EIs have a teaching background, whether they are new to the teaching industry or someone looking for a change from the typical teaching environment.   
  • Psychology — Knowledge in the areas of cognitive or behavioral psychology is helpful in both assessing and helping children, as well as their families. 
  • Sociology/Social Work — Having a degree in these fields provides you with the understanding of how people think, behave and interact, valuable skills in the life of an EI!  
  • Speech, Occupational, or Physical Therapy —- These are often incorporated into an EI's plan for helping children overcome developmental delays or disabilities, so knowledge in these areas definitely comes in handy.
  • Family Sciences — As an EI, you aren’t just helping children, but their families as well. That’s why having a degree in family sciences is a great match. The field focuses on healthy family relationships and providing a supportive environment that promotes health and wellbeing. 

A State Certification is Required

This is not needed to be hired, but it must be completed once you take on the position. Often certification is through your state’s Department of Education, but South Carolina's early intervention services program is available through the Department of Health and Human Services  (DHHS).

Prior Experience is Preferred

Having prior experience in working and interacting with children and their families is definitely a plus, perhaps through child care, education or even a therapeutic setting. Since, as an EI, you will be working with children 0-6 years old, it’s preferable that you have at least one year of experience working with children who fall in this age range.  

Do You Have What it Takes to Be An Early Interventionist?

Besides one of the degrees listed above, state certification, and prior experience, there are a few other things you need if you wish to become a successful EI

The Ability to Get From Point A to Point B (and Sometimes C, D, and E!)

An EI needs to have a means of transportation! Education research has shown that children progress the most in environments they are comfortable in, which is why EI services are provided at children’s homes or daycare facilities. A typical day as an EI will have you traveling to several different homes, so reliable transportation is a must!  

A Dedicated and Caring Attitude   

There are certain qualities that come in handy when taking on the role of an EI. The following characteristics will serve you well: 

  • A passion for working with children 
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Knowledge of (or ability to research) area resources
  • Creativity (always finding new ways to make learning fun!)
  • Independence and flexibility
  • Superhero organizational skills (to make your own schedule, complete paperwork, manage time, and assist several families in a single day!) 
  • Calm and patient demeanor
  • Desire to make a difference 
  • Enough energy to keep up with multiple young children each day! 


Now You Know What Degree You Need to Work in Early Intervention…

...and everything else you need to succeed! So what do you think? Is it right for you?

Early intervention is a challenging yet very exciting and rewarding career. If you think you have what it takes — including the degree and the desire — to work with and support children and families one-on-one, then a career at About Play might be perfect for you! 

We are always looking for creative and passionate professionals to join our team in serving and supporting children with developmental delays. Check out our available positions online and contact us today to learn how you can start making a difference!

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