How to Become a Paraprofessional
Paraprofessional Careers & Degrees

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

QuestionWhat does a paraprofessional do?

A paraprofessional educator can also be called an ‘educational assistant’ or a ‘teacher’s aide’.

It is a teaching-related position within a school.

The typical responsibilities of a paraprofessional educator usually include assisting teachers in the classroom; providing administrative support for teaching; supervising students outside of the classroom (while eating, playing outside or on field trips, for example), and so on.

Some paraprofessionals might help students understand and complete various assignments, while others may be working exclusively with the students that have special educational needs.

Paraprofessionals might work in schools, mental health agencies, early childhood programs, etc.

The role of these professionals in the system is constantly evolving, as well as their duties and responsibilities.

QuestionHow much do paraprofessionals make?

On average, an educational paraprofessional can make a little more than $20.000 per year in the United States.

In case you decide to follow this career path, you can expect to earn anywhere between $14.000 and $33.000 annually.

The salary would certainly depend on a variety of factors – your education and experience level, the facility you work for, the location and so on.

Paraprofessionals that work in Cincinnati, Chicago, and New York, for example, have the highest average salaries.

An entry-level paraprofessional can earn around $10 per hour, while a top-level specialist with plenty of experience can make $17 and more per hour.

QuestionHow much does it cost to become a paraprofessional?

The minimal educational requirement for an aspiring educational paraprofessional is a high school diploma; however, some employers might require you to have an associate’s degree or at least two years of college.

It will cost you anywhere between $8.000 and $45.000 (and more) per year to become an Associate of Applied Science in Paraprofessional Education; the cost depends on a variety of factors (the books, supplies, and accommodation expenses are not included).

You might also be required to pursue paraprofessional certification (over $55).

QuestionWhat is the demand for paraprofessionals?

Between 2018 and 2028, the teacher assistant (educational paraprofessional) job market is expected to grow by 4%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

That is pretty much the same as the national average for all occupations in the United States.

The growth will certainly be affected by state and federal funding for education programs.

QuestionHow long does it take to become a paraprofessional?

It will take you two years to earn an associate’s degree and become an Associate of Applied Science in Paraprofessional Education.

Getting that on-job experience while you are still in university can be extremely helpful, so seek training in schools or unions.

You can prepare for your paraprofessional certification online and choose your pace (for example, 2 weeks of unlimited access to the course materials); the actual test will take you 2.5 hours.

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