While no parent wants to think the worst, when infants and young children have diagnosed delays or disabilities, an early intervention can significantly impact the road to healthy development. Developmental -- or early -- intervention includes supportive services that help the young child to develop in the most positive way possible. If you're considering a career as a developmental interventionist, you'll need a minimum of a bachelor's degree that includes specialized requirements in areas such as child development and human learning.
Early Childhood Options
A bachelor's degree in early childhood education provides an entry-level developmental interventionist with the basic skills and knowledge to work with infants, toddlers and preschool-aged children. Although an ECE degree from a four-year college prepares students as generalists or education professionals, most programs offer specialized courses in early intervention that provide information and instruction in methods to assist young children with developmental delays and disorders. For example, the Indiana University at Bloomington's Bachelor of Science in early childhood education notes that its program prepares graduates for careers in early intervention programs. College courses that include general early development, teaching methods for young children, play as development, and teaching infants and toddlers with special needs meet basic requirements for an entry-level career as a developmental interventionist.
Prep for Professionals
Professionals who already have at least a bachelor's degree and work with young children in educational or therapeutic settings can meet developmental interventionist job requirements through a post-secondary certificate program. For example, Georgetown University offers an early intervention certificate for professionals who already work with young children in a physical therapy, occupational therapy, educational or psychological capacity. An early intervention certificate provides college grads with the opportunity to learn specialized knowledge in promoting skills and supporting young children with physical, social, emotional and cognitive needs.
To move beyond an entry-level job and advance your career as a developmental interventionist, you'll need to consider a graduate degree. Additionally, college graduates who have a degree in early education, child development or another field can redirect their careers to an early intervention specialty through a master's degree program. Depending on the school, a bachelor's in ECE is, or isn't, a requirement. A graduate curriculum in developmental interventionist typically includes course work in intervention strategies, assessment and focused areas of practice. For example, the University of Pittsburgh's Master of Education in early intervention includes classes in general strategies such as intervention and inclusion, as well as courses that cover specific topics such as autism, oral motor and feeding, positioning and mobility, and working with families.
Whether you choose a bachelor's, post-bachelor's certificate or master's-level program, you'll need to complete hands-on field work prior to graduating in an early intervention specialty. Developmental interventionists work with children from birth through the preschool years, making it necessary for students in the area to take practicals or field placements in infant, toddler and preschool settings. This type of class includes supervised practice, where a student works with young children in an early intervention setting such as a special needs preschool or a community-based health center.
Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.