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Become A Special Education Paraeducator

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Working As A Special Education Paraeducator

  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
  • Scheduling Work and Activities
  • Developing Objectives and Strategies
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Documenting/Recording Information
  • Deal with People

  • $35,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Special Education Paraeducator Do

Special education teachers work with students who have a wide range of learning, mental, emotional, and physical disabilities. They adapt general education lessons and teach various subjects, such as reading, writing, and math, to students with mild and moderate disabilities. They also teach basic skills, such as literacy and communication techniques, to students with severe disabilities.

Duties

Special education teachers typically do the following:

  • Assess students’ skills to determine their needs and to develop appropriate teaching plans
  • Adapt general lessons to meet the needs of students
  • Develop Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) for each student
  • Plan, organize, and assign activities that are specific to each student’s abilities
  • Teach and mentor students as a class, in small groups, and one-on-one
  • Implement IEPs, assess students’ performance, and track their progress
  • Update IEPs throughout the school year to reflect students’ progress and goals
  • Discuss student’s progress with parents, teachers, counselors, and administrators
  • Supervise and mentor teacher assistants who work with students with disabilities
  • Prepare and help students transition from grade to grade and for life after graduation

Special education teachers work with general education teachers, counselors, school superintendents, administrators, and parents. As a team, they develop IEPs specific to each student’s needs. IEPs outline the goals and services for each student, such as sessions with the school psychologists, counselors, and special education teachers. Teachers also meet with parents, school administrators, and counselors to discuss updates and changes to the IEPs.

Special education teachers’ duties vary by the type of setting they work in, student disabilities, and teacher specialty.

Some special education teachers work in classrooms or resource centers that only include students with disabilities. In these settings, teachers plan, adapt, and present lessons to meet each student’s needs. They teach students in small groups or on a one-on-one basis.

In inclusive classrooms, special education teachers teach students with disabilities who are in general education classrooms. They work with general education teachers to present the information in a manner that students with disabilities can more easily understand. They also assist general education teachers to adapt lessons that will meet the needs of the students with disabilities in their classes.

Special education teachers also collaborate with teacher assistants, psychologists, and social workers to accommodate requirements of students with disabilities. For example, they may have a teacher assistant work with them to provide support for a student who needs particular attention.

Special education teachers work with students who have a wide variety of mental, emotional, physical, and learning disabilities. For example, some work with students who need assistance in subject areas, such as reading and math. Others help students develop study skills, such as by using flashcards and text highlighting.

Some special education teachers work with students who have physical and sensory disabilities, such as blindness and deafness, and with students who are wheelchair-bound. They also may work with those who have autism spectrum disorders and emotional disorders, such as anxiety and depression.

Special education teachers work with students from preschool to high school. Some teachers work with students who have severe disabilities until the students are 21 years old.

Special education teachers help students with severe disabilities develop basic life skills, such as how to respond to questions and how to follow directions. Some teach the skills necessary for students with moderate disabilities to live independently, find a job, and manage money and their time. For more information about other workers who help individuals with disabilities develop skills necessary to live independently, see the profiles on occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants and aides.

Most special education teachers use computers to keep records of their students’ performance, prepare lesson plans, and update IEPs. Some teachers also use various assistive technology aids, such as Braille writers and computer software that help them communicate with students.

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How To Become A Special Education Paraeducator

Special education teachers in public schools are required to have at least a bachelor’s degree and a state-issued certification or license. Private schools typically require teachers to have a bachelor’s degree, but teachers are not required to be licensed or certified. For information about teacher preparation programs and certification requirements, visit Teach.org or contact your state’s board of education.

Education

All states require special education teachers in public schools to have at least a bachelor’s degree. Some earn a degree specifically in special education. Others major in elementary education or a content area, such as math or science, with a minor in special education.

In a program leading to a bachelor’s degree in special education, prospective teachers learn about the different types of disabilities and how to present information so that students will understand. These programs typically include fieldwork, such as student teaching. To become fully certified, some states require special education teachers to complete a master’s degree in special education.

Teachers in private schools do not need to meet state requirements. However, private schools may prefer to hire teachers who have at least a bachelor’s degree in special education.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

All states require teachers in public schools to be licensed. A license is frequently referred to as a certification. Those who teach in private schools are not required to be licensed. Most states require teachers to pass a background check.

Requirements for certification vary by state. In addition to a bachelor’s degree, states also require teachers to complete a teacher preparation program and supervised experience in teaching. Some states require a minimum grade point average. Teachers may be required to complete annual professional development classes or a master’s degree program to maintain their license.

Many states offer general licenses in special education that allow teachers to work with students with a variety of disabilities. Others offer licenses or endorsements based on a disability-specific category, such as autism or behavior disorders.

Some states allow special education teachers to transfer their licenses from another state. Other states require even an experienced teacher to pass their state’s licensing requirements.

All states offer an alternative route to certification for people who already have a bachelor’s degree. Some alternative certification programs allow candidates to begin teaching immediately, under the close supervision of an experienced teacher. These alternative programs cover teaching methods and child development. Candidates are awarded full certification after they complete the program. Other programs require prospective teachers to take classes in education before they can start to teach. They may be awarded a master’s degree after completing either type of program.

Training

Some special education teachers need to complete a period of fieldwork, commonly referred to as student teaching, before they can work as a teacher. In some states, this program is a prerequisite for a license to teach in public schools. During student teaching, they gain experience in preparing lesson plans and teaching students in a classroom setting, under the supervision and guidance of a mentor teacher. The amount of time required for these programs varies by state, but may last from 1 to 2 years. Many universities offer student teaching programs as part of a degree in special education.

Advancement

Experienced teachers can advance to become mentor or lead teachers who help less experienced teachers improve their teaching skills.

Teachers may become school counselors, instructional coordinators, assistant principals, or principals. These positions generally require additional education, an advanced degree, or certification. An advanced degree in education administration or leadership may be helpful.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Special education teachers discuss students’ needs and performances with general education teachers, parents, and administrators. They also explain difficult concepts in terms that students with learning disabilities can understand.

Critical-thinking skills. Special education teachers assess students’ progress and use that information to adapt lessons to help them learn.

Interpersonal skills. Special education teachers regularly work with general education teachers, school counselors, administrators, and parents to develop Individualized Education Programs. As a result, they need to be able to build positive working relationships.

Patience. Working with students with special needs and different abilities can be difficult. Special education teachers should be patient with each student, as some may need the instruction given aloud, at a slower pace, or in writing.  

Resourcefulness. Special education teachers must develop different ways to present information in a manner that meets the needs of their students. They also help general education teachers adapt their lessons to the needs of students with disabilities.

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Average Length of Employment
Special ED Teacher 3.9 years
Special Educator 3.3 years
Top Careers Before Special Education Paraeducator
Teacher 8.6%
Volunteer 7.1%
Tutor 6.6%
Cashier 4.6%
Assistant 3.6%
Internship 3.0%
Manager 3.0%
Leader 3.0%
Top Careers After Special Education Paraeducator
Tutor 6.1%
Internship 5.3%
Teacher 5.3%
Leader 4.5%
Instructor 3.8%

Do you work as a Special Education Paraeducator?

Average Yearly Salary
$35,000
Show Salaries
$25,000
Min 10%
$35,000
Median 50%
$35,000
Median 50%
$35,000
Median 50%
$35,000
Median 50%
$35,000
Median 50%
$35,000
Median 50%
$35,000
Median 50%
$49,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Huntington Beach High School
Highest Paying City
Novato, CA
Highest Paying State
Alaska
Avg Experience Level
3.5 years
How much does a Special Education Paraeducator make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Special Education Paraeducator in the United States is $35,953 per year or $17 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $25,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $49,000.

How Would You Rate The Salary Of a Special Education Paraeducator?

Have you worked as a Special Education Paraeducator? Help other job seekers by rating your experience as a Special Education Paraeducator.

Top Skills for A Special Education Paraeducator

  1. Special Needs
  2. Anxiety Disorders
  3. IEP
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Monitored special needs students engaged in independent work assignments.
  • Provide instruction in accordance with the student`s IEP and in conjunction with the instructional team.
  • Participated in the Skillful Teacher workshop and utilized behavior and classroom management skills learned.
  • Provide support to reinforce student learning.
  • Developed lesson plans which incorporated student individual goals to access the general education curriculum.

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Average Salary:

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Top 10 Best States for Special Education Paraeducators

  1. Alaska
  2. Connecticut
  3. Massachusetts
  4. Rhode Island
  5. Michigan
  6. New York
  7. California
  8. Oregon
  9. Minnesota
  10. Alabama
  • (10 jobs)
  • (154 jobs)
  • (154 jobs)
  • (11 jobs)
  • (209 jobs)
  • (201 jobs)
  • (1,086 jobs)
  • (35 jobs)
  • (239 jobs)
  • (51 jobs)

Special Education Paraeducator Demographics

Gender

Female

66.9%

Male

18.6%

Unknown

14.4%
Ethnicity

White

60.7%

Hispanic or Latino

20.1%

Black or African American

9.7%

Asian

5.6%

Unknown

3.9%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

61.3%

French

9.7%

Mandarin

6.5%

Chinese

3.2%

German

3.2%

Cantonese

3.2%

Braille

3.2%

Cherokee

3.2%

Tagalog

3.2%

Arabic

3.2%
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Special Education Paraeducator Education

Schools

California State University - Fullerton

7.5%

University of Maryland - Baltimore

7.5%

California State University - Dominguez Hills

7.5%

California State University - Los Angeles

5.7%

Hope International University

5.7%

Johns Hopkins University

5.7%

University of Phoenix

5.7%

Montgomery College

5.7%

Grand Canyon University

5.7%

University of Maryland - College Park

5.7%

Central Washington University

3.8%

Washington State University

3.8%

California State University - Channel Islands

3.8%

Brandman University

3.8%

Bowie State University

3.8%

College of Southern Maryland

3.8%

University of California - Los Angeles

3.8%

National University

3.8%

Liberty University

3.8%

Kaplan University

3.8%
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Majors

Psychology

14.2%

Special Education

9.9%

Business

9.3%

Elementary Education

8.0%

Nursing

8.0%

Liberal Arts

8.0%

Human Development

6.2%

Social Work

4.9%

Education

4.9%

English

3.7%

Computer Science

3.1%

Political Science

2.5%

Health Education

2.5%

Speech-Language Pathology

2.5%

Communication

2.5%

Criminal Justice

2.5%

Communication Disorders Sciences

1.9%

Social Sciences

1.9%

Health/Medical Preparatory Programs

1.9%

General Education, Specific Areas

1.9%
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Degrees

Bachelors

35.5%

Masters

26.5%

Other

17.1%

Associate

15.9%

Certificate

2.4%

License

1.2%

Doctorate

0.8%

Diploma

0.4%
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What Is It Like To Work As A Special Education Paraeducator

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May 21, 2019 on Zippia

What was your job title?

Special Education Paraeducator.. Show More

What do you like the most about working as Special Education Paraeducator?

Relationships with staff and students. Rewarding to see students succeed... Show More

What do you NOT like?

Did not get paid a lot to deal with some of the issues. Sometimes the students didn't treat me really great. Communication between staff about my job duties was confusing at times... Show More

How Would You Rate Working As a Special Education Paraeducator?

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