A paraprofessional is a person who assists a fully-trained and titled professional, such as a doctor, a teacher, or a lawyer, in his or her duties. Paraprofessional training will not normally take as long as professional training. Types of paraprofessional training include partial completion of a relevant degree, a paraprofessional training certification or diploma program, or apprenticeships and other kinds of on-the-job training.
The training required of a paraprofessional largely depends on where he or she is seeking employment. Different countries, provinces, or states distinctly regulate paraprofessional practice. As such, it is important that someone interested in doing this kind of work in a new location research what qualifications will be required before relocating. In many U.S. states, for example, a person may secure work as a teacher's aide on the basis of having completed two years of post-secondary education. This same person could, upon moving to another state, learn that despite his or her experience, passing an additional exam or receiving certified paraprofessional training is required in order to gain a license.
Types of paraprofessional training also depend on the field in which one works. This kind of work is especially common in large fields that lack a sufficient number of professionals or that require organizational assistance. In many countries, a high demand for paraprofessionals exists in education, law, and medicine.
Education paraprofessionals can work in an organizational capacity, helping educators with lesson or activity planning and paperwork, or in an instructional capacity. Depending on the exact role to be filled, different kinds of paraprofessional training might appeal to an employer. Those providing instruction alongside teachers, normally called teacher's aides or instructional aides, will need to prove they have a solid grounding in the subject being taught as well as an ability to teach. There are also paraprofessional educators that might be trained as professionals in particularly relevant and needed areas, despite not having a teacher's qualification. For example, a special education aide with a unique knowledge of disabilities or a bilingual or cross-cultural aide who has studied languages or intercultural communication might be hired to fill gaps in the regular teacher’s training.
In the same way, legal and medical assistants will usually need to have particular skill sets for particular roles. General secretarial duties might require experience or training in research and organizational skills. For more specialized duties, certifications and job-specific paraprofessional training programs might — depending on location — be either desirable or obligatory.