How to Become a Paraprofessional
A paraprofessional works in the capacity of a professional in a field such as education, but does not have the equivalent qualifications. A paraprofessional usually provides support or works as an aide. Paraprofessionals can be found in many sectors, including law and healthcare, but most commonly in education.
There are many reasons why you might like to become a paraprofessional. Many take up this role because they are working towards credentials in the field. Some did not have the opportunity to go to college, but still have the relevant experience to take on the kind of roles available.
A paraprofessional is sometimes known as a teacher's aide or a teacher's assistant.
Education Requirement to Become a Paraprofessional
The education requirements for paraprofessionals differ significantly. In some roles the minimum requirement may be a high school diploma. More often than not, a two year associates degree from a community college is required.
The education for a paraprofessional is different in every state also. Some places require a paraprofessional to have a certification for the work they do. For instance, working with children who have autism, which would require a specific qualification.
Many educational paraprofessionals work with children with a disability. For this reason they are often trained in special education. Also, those who speak a second language may find themselves with more employment opportunity. A college degree in early childhood education or health is also often adequate for a job as an educational paraprofessional.
Many paraprofessionals work in other jobs within education, they are promoted to the role. For instance, they may work in an administrative capacity, then be promoted to an aide or assistant's position.
If you would like to become a paraprofessional, it's a good idea to concentrate on getting good grades in high school. You might like to volunteer your time working with children. This could be with a local sporting team, a day care center, or simply as a babysitter. This will help you to gain experience in the field, and will also look good when you are applying for jobs later on.
Paraprofessional Job Description
Educational paraprofessionals take on many different roles. When you become a paraprofessional you could find yourself supervising playtimes or completing clerical duties. Some specialists work with children with learning difficulties, such as dyslexia. Other will work with children who have autism or an intellectual disability. Some are simply on board to help take some of the pressure of the classrooms teacher.
A paraprofessional may work with one student, or supervise an entire class. They may discipline students, grade homework and assignments, or attend field trips. Some paraprofessionals don't have much contact with students at all, for instance they may supervise a computer lab, or work in a school library where they will complete clerical tasks.
Paraprofessionals are found in many different working and educational environments such as child care centers, elementary and secondary schools, as well as community centers. Forty percent of paraprofessionals work on a part-time basis. Many are studying to become teachers themselves, or have family commitments that make this working environment ideal.
Paraprofessional Salary and Career Path
When you become a paraprofessional, you will most likely be employed in a school setting. Many are employed part-time in this profession. In the classroom, you will always work with the supervision of a teacher, but may be on your own when supervising the playground or completing administrative tasks.
Many paraprofessionals go on to become qualified teachers. Some schools in fact encourage them to do this, and provide adequate leave in order for them to pursue their studies.
The median wage of a paraprofessional is $22,000 a year. The top 10% of earners make above $33,000 a year.
For more information on a career as a paraprofessional, see the American Federation of Teachers website.
Some similar jobs to paraprofessional you might be interested in include:
- High school teacher
- Elementary school teacher
- Kindergarten teacher
- School counselor
- Social worker
Working with children and helping them to be their best can be very rewarding. A positing as a paraprofessional is also the gateway to earning professional qualifications as a teacher.
*Salary Information provided by the Bureau Of Labor Statistics