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Become A Special Education Paraeducator

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Working As A Special Education Paraeducator

  • Assisting and Caring for Others
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Getting Information
  • Thinking Creatively
  • $55,810

    Average Salary

What Does A Special Education Paraeducator 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 Paraeducator

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 Paraeducator jobs

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Special Education Paraeducator Typical Career Paths

Average Length of Employment
Special ED Teacher 3.6 years
Special Educator 3.4 years
Top Employers Before
Teacher 10.3%
Tutor 8.4%
Volunteer 5.6%
Assistant 3.7%
File Clerk 2.8%
Instructor 2.8%
Top Employers After
Teacher 8.1%
Tutor 6.5%
Internship 4.8%
Nurse 3.2%

Special Education Paraeducator Demographics

Gender

Female

78.6%

Male

21.4%
Ethnicity

White

81.0%

Hispanic or Latino

11.4%

Asian

5.7%

Black or African American

1.2%

Unknown

0.6%
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Languages Spoken

Spanish

50.0%

French

18.8%

Mandarin

12.5%

Chinese

6.3%

Braille

6.3%

Cantonese

6.3%
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Special Education Paraeducator Education

Schools

California State University - Dominguez Hills

9.7%

Grand Canyon University

9.7%

University of California - Los Angeles

6.5%

Johns Hopkins University

6.5%

University of Phoenix

6.5%

University of Arizona

6.5%

University of Kansas

6.5%

Imperial Valley College

6.5%

Antelope Valley College

6.5%

Central Washington University

3.2%

Brooks College

3.2%

University of Northern Colorado

3.2%

University of Maryland - University College

3.2%

Marlboro College

3.2%

Anoka-Ramsey Community College

3.2%

Ohio University -

3.2%

Edinboro University of Pennsylvania

3.2%

California State Polytechnic University - Pomona

3.2%

University of California - Santa Cruz

3.2%

California State University - Los Angeles

3.2%
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Majors

Psychology

14.6%

Special Education

13.4%

Business

8.5%

Elementary Education

6.1%

Human Development

6.1%

Speech-Language Pathology

4.9%

Nursing

4.9%

Education

4.9%

Liberal Arts

4.9%

Political Science

3.7%

English

3.7%

History

3.7%

Criminal Justice

3.7%

Communication Disorders Sciences

2.4%

General Education, Specific Areas

2.4%

Writing

2.4%

Music

2.4%

Health Education

2.4%

Health/Medical Preparatory Programs

2.4%

Law

2.4%
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Degrees

Bachelors

30.4%

Masters

28.7%

Other

20.0%

Associate

13.9%

Certificate

4.3%

Doctorate

1.7%

License

0.9%
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Top Skills for A Special Education Paraeducator

SpecialEducationProgramIEPSpecialNeedsStudentSmallGroupInstructionMathematicsGeneralEducationTeachersLessonPlansOLDChildrenClassroomTeacherSuperviseAcademicSkillsProfessionalStaffAcademicInstructionClassroomSettingStudentBehaviorEducationPlanClassroomActivitiesCPRExtraAssistanceBehavioralDevelopment

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Top Special Education Paraeducator Skills

  1. Special Education Program
  2. IEP
  3. Special Needs Student
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Teach and assist middle school students in the special education program by providing individual support in RSP classroom.
  • Provide instruction in accordance with the student`s IEP and in conjunction with the instructional team.
  • Worked daily with special needs students to improve work, social and communication skills.
  • Pull students for small group instruction or one on one assistance.
  • Assisted in curriculum planning, and developed differentiated lesson plans for students in an inclusion classroom.

Top Special Education Paraeducator Employers

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Special Education Paraeducator Videos

Profiles in Education: Paraeducator

Cynthia Eborall - Paraeducator

#1 Training Resource for Paraeducators

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