Career Preparedness

Why should I consider a career in early intervention?

Research indicates that brain development is most influenced in the first three years of life. Early intervention is a rewarding career that will offer you the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of infants and toddlers with developmental delays and their families. The primary role of an EI service provider is to support families to increase their child's participation in everyday routines and activities. EI service providers use coaching interactions during early intervention visits to help parents develop their abilities to interact with children in ways that support their child's development.

What does early intervention look like in Iowa?

Early ACCESS has produced several videos of providers interacting with families on home visits, which can be found on the IA DMM website.  In addition, this module explores the "Foundations of Early Intervention" in Iowa and accompanies the "Early Intervention Field Experience Guidance", which outlines many aspects of early intervention and what it entails.

What degree could I get if I'm interested in working with infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families through early intervention?

The field of early intervention offers a broad array of career opportunities including early childhood special education teachers, service coordinators, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists, social workers, and more. Job opportunities are available for those with a high school diploma as well as four-year and advanced degrees.

I think I might want to be an occupational therapist (OT), physical therapist (PT), speech language pathologist (SLP), or social worker. What do they do in early intervention?

The documents below are position statements from discipline-related associations that will help explain the expectations for each type of career:

Speech-Language Pathologists (Iowa Speech-Language Hearing Association):

Physical Therapists (Iowa Physical Therapy Association):

Occupational Therapists (Iowa Occupational Therapy Association):

Social Workers (National Association of Social Workers – Heartland):

What if I'm interested in a career as a teacher in early intervention?

In Iowa's early intervention system (Early ACCESS), “teachers” are called Itinerant Teachers, Early Childhood Special Education Consultants or Teachers, Early Childhood Special Educators, Early ACCESS teachers, Early Childhood Specialists, or Home Interventionists. They typically have a background in early childhood special education (Unified teaching endorsement).

What colleges/universities in Iowa have programs to help me reach my goal to work in early intervention?

Early Childhood Special Education (Endorsement 1001- teaching children birth to age 8 years in inclusive settings)

Physical Therapy:

Occupational Therapy:

Speech-Language Pathology:

Master of Social Work:

The information above is adapted with permission from the Virginia Early Intervention Professional Development Center ( and edited to align with Iowa's early intervention system.


Last Updated: Jan 24, 2020