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Become A Para Professional

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Working As A Para Professional

  • Assisting and Caring for Others
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Getting Information
  • Thinking Creatively
  • $39,952

    Average Salary

What Does A Para Professional Do

Teacher assistants work under a teacher’s supervision to give students additional attention and instruction.

Duties

Teacher assistants typically do the following:

  • Reinforce lessons presented by teachers by reviewing material with students one-on-one or in small groups
  • Enforce school and class rules to help teach students proper behavior
  • Help teachers with recordkeeping, such as tracking attendance and calculating grades
  • Help teachers prepare for lessons by getting materials ready or setting up equipment, such as computers
  • Supervise students in class, between classes, during lunch and recess, and on field trips

Teacher assistants also are called teacher aides, instructional aides, paraprofessionals, education assistants, and paraeducators.

Teacher assistants work with or under the guidance of a licensed teacher. Generally, teachers introduce new material to students while teacher assistants help reinforce the lessons by working with individual students or small groups of students. For example, after the teacher presents a lesson, a teacher assistant may help a small group of students as they try to master the material.

Teachers may seek feedback from assistants to monitor students’ progress. Some teachers and teacher assistants meet regularly to discuss lesson plans and student development. Teacher assistants sometimes help teachers by grading tests and checking homework.

Some teacher assistants work only with special education students. Some of these students attend regular classes, and teacher assistants help them understand the material and adapt the information to their learning style. Teacher assistants may work with students who have more severe disabilities in separate classrooms. They help these students with basic needs, such as eating or personal hygiene. With young adults, they may help students with disabilities learn skills necessary for them to find a job or live independently after graduation.

Some teacher assistants work in specific locations in the school. For example, some work in computer laboratories, teaching students how to use computers and helping them use software. Others work as recess or lunchroom attendants, supervising students during these times of the day.

Although most teacher assistants work in elementary, middle, and high schools, others work in preschools and childcare centers. Often, one or two assistants work with a lead teacher to provide the individual attention that young children need. They help with educational activities. They also supervise the children at play and help with feeding and other basic care.

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How To Become A Para Professional

Teacher assistants typically need to have completed at least 2 years of college coursework.

Education

Most school districts require applicants to have completed at least 2 years of college coursework or have earned an associate’s degree. Teacher assistants in schools that have a Title 1 program (a federal program for schools with a large proportion of students from low-income households) must have at least a 2-year degree, 2 years of college, or pass a state or local assessment.

Associate’s degree programs for teacher assistants prepare the participants to develop educational materials, observe students, and understand the role of teachers and teaching assistants in the classroom.

Most states require instructional aides who work with special-needs students to pass a skills-based test.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Teacher assistants need to discuss students’ progress with teachers and parents, so they need to be able to communicate well.

Interpersonal skills. Teacher assistants interact with a variety of people, including teachers, students, parents, and administrators. They need to develop good working relationships with the people they work with.

Patience. Working with students of different abilities and backgrounds can be difficult. Teacher assistants must be patient with students who struggle with material.

Resourcefulness. To reinforce lessons, teacher assistants must explain information to students in a way that meets each student’s learning style. 

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Para Professional Videos

Role of the Para-professional

A day in the life of a travel professional (Spanish)

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Average Length of Employment
Para Professional 3.0 years
Para Educator 2.9 years
Instructional Aide 2.4 years
Educational Aid 2.2 years
Classroom Aide 1.8 years
Top Careers Before Para Professional
Cashier 8.9%
Teacher 6.7%
Internship 5.2%
Secretary 4.4%
Teller 4.4%
Manager 3.2%
Volunteer 2.8%
Tutor 2.1%
Top Careers After Para Professional
Teacher 9.3%
Internship 5.2%
Cashier 4.8%
Teller 3.7%
Manager 3.3%
Volunteer 2.8%
Secretary 2.6%

Do you work as a Para Professional?

Para Professional Demographics

Gender

Female

75.3%

Male

22.7%

Unknown

2.0%
Ethnicity

White

65.0%

Hispanic or Latino

14.5%

Black or African American

10.3%

Asian

6.5%

Unknown

3.8%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

74.7%

French

6.0%

German

2.4%

Hmong

2.4%

Hindi

2.4%

Chinese

1.2%

Hungarian

1.2%

Hawaiian

1.2%

Arabic

1.2%

Carrier

1.2%

Russian

1.2%

Urdu

1.2%

Korean

1.2%

Thai

1.2%

Italian

1.2%
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Para Professional Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

18.0%

Grand Canyon University

13.0%

Ashford University

8.8%

Liberty University

6.7%

Kaplan University

5.9%

Wichita State University

4.6%

Walden University

4.2%

Missouri Southern State University

3.8%

Central Michigan University

3.8%

Kean University

3.3%

Southern New Hampshire University

3.3%

Southern Connecticut State University

2.9%

Boise State University

2.9%

Pennsylvania State University

2.9%

University of Kansas

2.9%

Davenport University

2.9%

University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff

2.5%

Michigan State University

2.5%

Fort Hays State University

2.5%

Arizona State University

2.5%
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Majors

Business

16.2%

Psychology

8.5%

Education

7.9%

Criminal Justice

7.4%

Elementary Education

7.2%

Human Services

5.5%

Social Work

4.9%

Liberal Arts

4.6%

Special Education

4.5%

Early Childhood Education

4.2%

Accounting

3.9%

General Studies

3.5%

Human Development

3.2%

Communication

3.0%

General Education, Specific Areas

3.0%

Nursing

2.7%

Health Care Administration

2.6%

Medical Assisting Services

2.5%

Sociology

2.4%

School Counseling

2.3%
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Degrees

Bachelors

37.5%

Other

26.9%

Masters

16.3%

Associate

11.5%

Certificate

5.2%

Diploma

1.4%

License

0.6%

Doctorate

0.6%
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Para Professional Videos

Role of the Para-professional

A day in the life of a travel professional (Spanish)

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Top Skills for A Para Professional

  1. Classroom Management
  2. Special Needs
  3. Special Education Instructors
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Attended a variety of professional development workshops centered on learning goals, classroom management, student motivation and engaging learning activities.
  • Identify special needs of students and communicate appropriate accommodations to Idaho Digital Learning.
  • Guided and assisted students in small group instruction settings with class routines and transitioning from one activity to the next.
  • Developed computer lessons that classroom teachers could easily integrate into their existing lesson plans.
  • Coordinated educational math enrichment program within the New London elementary school, conducting group and individual mathematics study sessions.

How Would You Rate Working As a Para Professional?

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Top Para Professional Employers

Jobs From Top Para Professional Employers

Para Professional Videos

Role of the Para-professional

A day in the life of a travel professional (Spanish)

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