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Become A Special Education Assistant

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Working As A Special Education Assistant

  • Assisting and Caring for Others
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Getting Information
  • Thinking Creatively
  • $24,900

    Average Salary

What Does A Special Education Assistant 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 Special Education Assistant

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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Special Education Assistant jobs

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Average Length of Employment
Special ED Teacher 3.6 years
Special Educator 3.4 years
Para Educator 2.9 years
Para Professional 2.7 years
Instructional Aide 2.4 years
Educational Aid 2.1 years
Teacher Assistant 1.8 years
Top Employers Before
Teacher 9.6%
Internship 6.0%
Cashier 5.0%
Volunteer 4.1%
Tutor 3.1%
Assistant 2.5%
Top Employers After
Teacher 12.5%
Internship 6.1%
Tutor 3.5%
Volunteer 3.2%
Cashier 3.1%

Special Education Assistant Demographics

Gender

Female

77.2%

Male

20.9%

Unknown

1.9%
Ethnicity

White

80.2%

Hispanic or Latino

12.0%

Asian

5.8%

Unknown

1.4%

Black or African American

0.5%
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Languages Spoken

Spanish

70.2%

French

5.4%

Hmong

3.6%

Braille

3.0%

Italian

2.4%

Russian

1.8%

Portuguese

1.8%

Yoruba

1.8%

Arabic

1.8%

Chinese

1.2%

Turkish

1.2%

Tagalog

1.2%

Dakota

0.6%

Ilocano

0.6%

Romanian

0.6%

Mandarin

0.6%

Armenian

0.6%

Danish

0.6%

Greek

0.6%

Thai

0.6%
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Special Education Assistant Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

18.1%

Grand Canyon University

10.9%

Liberty University

8.1%

California State University - Dominguez Hills

6.6%

Middle Tennessee State University

5.3%

University of Memphis

5.1%

Ashford University

4.8%

National University

3.6%

California State University - Los Angeles

3.6%

Strayer University

3.6%

Boise State University

3.3%

California State University - Northridge

3.3%

Capella University

3.3%

Kaplan University

3.3%

San Diego State University

3.1%

Walden University

3.1%

Illinois State University

2.8%

Chicago State University

2.8%

Indiana University Bloomington

2.8%

Arizona State University

2.5%
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Majors

Special Education

10.9%

Education

10.5%

Psychology

10.1%

Elementary Education

9.7%

Business

8.4%

Criminal Justice

5.2%

Early Childhood Education

4.9%

Social Work

4.6%

Human Services

4.6%

Human Development

4.3%

Liberal Arts

3.8%

Nursing

2.8%

Sociology

2.8%

General Education, Specific Areas

2.7%

English

2.6%

Communication

2.6%

General Studies

2.4%

Medical Assisting Services

2.4%

Counseling Psychology

2.3%

Health Care Administration

2.3%
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Degrees

Bachelors

37.8%

Other

23.2%

Masters

21.5%

Associate

10.2%

Certificate

4.7%

Doctorate

1.0%

Diploma

1.0%

License

0.5%
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Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary

Real Special Education Assistant Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Special Education Research Assistant Technology Foundation, Inc. Miami, FL Jun 25, 2013 $40,091
Special Education Research Assistant Technology Foundation, Inc. Miami, FL Jun 25, 2010 $38,547
Teacher/Special Education Asst New York Center for Autism Charter School New York, NY Oct 01, 2011 $33,900
Teacher/Special Education Asst New York Center for Autism Charter School New York, NY Sep 20, 2011 $33,900
ADM. Assistant, Special Education Southeast Children's Fund Washington, DC Aug 15, 2009 $32,157
ADM. Assistant, Special Education Southeast Children's Fund Washington, DC Aug 18, 2009 $32,157
ADM. Assistant, Special Education Southeast Children's Fund Washington, DC Oct 01, 2009 $32,157
ADM. Assistant, Special Education Southeast Children's Fund Washington, DC Oct 15, 2009 $32,157
ADM. Assistant, Special Education Southeast Children's Fund Washington, DC Sep 15, 2009 $32,157
ADM. Assistant, Special Education Southeast Children's Fund TX Sep 28, 2009 $32,157
Special Education Assistant HOPI Day School Kykotsmovi Village, AZ Nov 17, 2015 $27,131

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Top Skills for A Special Education Assistant

ClassroomTeacherSpecialEducationTeachersBehavioralIssuesSpecialNeedsChildrenIEPSmallGroupInstructionLessonPlansMathematicsLanguageArtsLearningDisabilitiesSocialSkillsPositiveLearningEnvironmentEducationPlanSuperviseResourceBehaviorModificationStudentBehaviorBehaviorManagementClassroomActivitiesCrisis

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Top Special Education Assistant Skills

  1. Classroom Teacher
  2. Special Education Teachers
  3. Behavioral Issues
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Collaborate with classroom teacher in implementing Sensory Motor Integration techniques.
  • Assist Special Education teachers in reinforcing efforts with children having various disabilities, e.g.
  • Worked with autistic student with significant social and emotional behavioral issues.
  • Provided parents/caregivers of special needs children with therapeutic and behavioral techniques.
  • Worked as a member of the CLASS team to implement students' Individual Education Plans (IEPs).

Top Special Education Assistant Employers

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Special Education Assistant Videos

A day in the life of a Special Education teacher

A Day in the Life - Special Education Teacher

A Day in the Life of a Kindergarten Teacher

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