Paraprofessionals work in classrooms as teacher's aides, special education assistants and bilingual assistants. They work as library assistants and in preschools as early childhood assistants, always under the guidance of a teacher. Some people use paraprofessional jobs as a stepping stone toward more advanced goals on the educational track, but for others being a paraprofessional is a career. Certification requirements for these essential classroom workers vary.
Requirements for paraprofessionals vary depending on employer, position and state, says the American Federation of Teachers. Some states, such as California, Louisiana and North Dakota, don't require certification. States that require certification set their own standards. For example, North Carolina issues certificates to people who get in-service training; have two years of experience; and complete six core courses in an early childhood or a teaching assistant program at a community college. But Illinois requires only the completion of an approved teacher aide training program, or 30 semester hours. States such as Texas, New York and Iowa have multiple tiers of paraprofessionals, with varying requirements for each.
The federal government sets requirements for certain paraprofessional positions in schools supported by Title I funds. According to No Child Left Behind legislation, those paraprofessionals must complete two years of higher education, have at least an associate degree or pass a formal assessment that proves their knowledge and ability to assist with reading, writing and math.