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There is significant range in the requirements to become a paraprofessional teacher because each region can have its own rules. This is made evident when the possible responsibilities in this profession are clarified. These educators may work as assistants to teachers, as a personal assistant to a single child, or a few paraprofessionals teach their own classes. For example, sometimes coaches or elective course teachers are paraprofessionals. The distinction between a paraprofessional and a professional teacher is usually that the professional teacher has a credential or licensing to teach, while the paraprofessional lacks this.
Teaching assistants or other paraprofessional educators need to know where to look for work. Many times school districts post jobs as they become available, or they may also be posted with government job search agencies or on private job search agency sites. The local newspaper can be another source for job listings. People may also want to directly contact private schools to see if they have any paraprofessional teacher jobs available.
Given the range of possible jobs, the education requirements to become a paraprofessional teacher can be varied. Many of these workers possess only a high school diploma. In other areas, schools require teacher’s assistants to have a higher level of education, up to an associate’s degree that emphasizes study in areas like childhood education and/or special education for children and teens. The paraprofessional teachers who do teach their own classes tend to possess at least a bachelor’s degree, but many schools are limited in the number of non-credentialed teachers they can hire.
In addition to meeting education requirements, people who would like to become a paraprofessional teacher can make their applications more attractive by showing experience working with children. Sometimes, simply having children, especially if they attend a school to which a person is applying, is considered good training. It’s quite common for moms to take jobs as paraprofessional educators because the hours coincide with their children’s school hours. Having children is certainly not a requirement to become a paraprofessional teacher, but any relevant experience with children, such as working as a camp counselor, should be mentioned on job applications.
The appropriate education level and experience aren’t the only requirements. Most schools won’t let people become a paraprofessional teacher until they have conducted a thorough background check. This can include looking for a criminal record, fingerprinting, and drug testing. These steps are vital to protect children and to satisfy parents that their children are safe when attending school. The paraprofessional educator can’t expect to get employment without a clean record and testing that shows no drug use.
In many parts of the world, compensation for someone who has become a paraprofessional teacher is not high. It may be little more than the minimum or living wage. Those who have a true interest in teaching are encouraged to continue their education. Getting a teaching credential can dramatically raise pay and give most of these educators greater freedom in the classroom. On the other hand, teaching assistants are needed in many schools, and by their work, they provide greater services and attention to students, improving the quality of education.