Paraeducators, or "paras," work with students, and sometimes with families, under the supervision of teachers or other education professionals. Salaries vary by geographic location, employer, experience, education and special skills. Nationwide, the average paraeducator salary is $17,900 per year, or $13.35 per hour.
Paraeducators assist teachers in a variety of ways, including the planning and implementation of instruction, grading papers and keeping records. They may provide one-on-one tutoring, assist with classroom management, serve as a translator or provide other instructional support to students. Paraeducators can work in regular classrooms and in school libraries, media centers and technology classrooms. The role of paras has changed dramatically since the first hiring of teacher's aides in the 1950s. They are not merely teachers' helpers, but integral members of the the teaching team who provide direct services to students and families.
Requirements vary from state to state. Most positions for paras require a minimum of a high school diploma. Preference may be given to those with college credits or an associate's degree. Paraprofessional certification is required in some states.. You'll probably be required to pass a background check. Paraprofessional skills include the patience and stamina necessary to work with children. They need to have good communication skills and work well as members of a team. Being bilingual can be an asset in some settings.
Paraeducators work in public and private schools, for religious organizations and in childcare centers. Approximately one-third of paraeducators work part-time. Most work during the regular school year and are off during the summer months. Paraeducators may be outdoors for part of the day if their duties include monitoring of recess and pickups/dropoffs by bus and car.
Salary and Job Outlook
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) tracks data and makes growth projections for all civilian jobs. Paraeducators, which the BLS classifies as teachers' assistants, are expected to see job growth of around 8 percent through 2026, average growth compared to all other jobs. Teacher shortages in some areas, greater numbers of English language learners and the growing need for remedial education to satisfy government mandates are some of the factors pointing to an increased need for paraeducators in the future. The BLS lists para pay with a median of $26,260 per year. Median pay means that one half of those employed in such jobs earn more, while half earn less.