Paraprofessional Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

Last updated: June 22, 2022

A Paraprofessional, or Teaching Assistant, is responsible for providing hands-on support to a Teacher when preparing lessons or teaching students in the classroom. Their duties include helping with behavior management during lessons, tracking a student’s grades and behavior and setting up classroom materials before class.

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Paraprofessional duties and responsibilities

Paraprofessionals have a wide range of duties in the classroom. Here are some common duties and responsibilities:

  • Serve as a guide in instructing students on proper classroom behavior
  • Help teachers keep records for grading and attendance
  • Get materials and equipment ready to help teachers prepare for class
  • Reinforce lessons by reviewing material one-on-one and in small groups with students
  • Supervise students during lunch or recess, as well as in between classes or on field trips
  • Assist students who need additional help learning a specific concept
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Paraprofessional skills and qualifications

A Paraprofessional needs a unique set of skills and qualifications to succeed, including:

  • Excellent written and verbal communication
  • Ability to assist in classroom instruction and learning
  • Great attention to detail
  • Ability to work closely with children 
  • Excellent teamwork skills
  • Ability to remain calm and patient at all times
  • Knowledge of classroom subjects

What does a Paraprofessional do?

Paraprofessionals work at public or private schools to enrich each student’s experience in class and help effectively teach age-appropriate curriculum. Their role is to collaborate with Teachers and oversee students so that they get more hands-on attention and personalized help with assignments. Paraprofessionals help take attendance, collect homework and assign tasks to students. While the Teacher guides the group, Paraprofessionals walk around the classroom to check for understanding and explain concepts to students who are having trouble. They prepare reports about each student’s progress and collaborate with the Teacher to create a plan for achieving academic and social benchmarks.

Paraprofessionals strive to form interpersonal relationships with each student to help them feel more motivated about classroom achievement. They communicate with Teachers and parents about each student’s learning need and make recommendations about how to better accommodate or support them in the classroom and at home.

Paraprofessional salary expectations

 A Paraprofessional makes an average of $13.58 per hour. Pay rate may depend on level of experience, education and the geographical location.

Paraprofessional education and training requirements

Paraprofessionals usually need at least two years’ worth of undergraduate coursework or an associate degree in education or paraprofessional education. This education helps Paraprofessionals prepare for a career in the classroom, including instruction techniques and ways to support teachers. Some associate programs involve practical training in which students assist in real classrooms for a period of time. Paraprofessionals working with special needs students may need to pass an additional exam for certification. Most Paraprofessionals are required to have a first aid/CPR certification.

Paraprofessional experience requirements

Entry-level Paraprofessionals should have some classroom or teaching experience, whether it’s from volunteering or tutoring. Those who earned an associate degree in paraprofessional education should have enough experience for an entry-level role. Paraprofessionals working with special needs students should have at least 3 years of experience. Senior-level Paraprofessionals should have at least 5 years of experience.

Job description samples for similar positions

If you are not quite looking to hire for a Paraprofessional, make sure to look at the following job description sample for a similar position:

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Frequently asked questions about Paraprofessionals

 

What is the difference between a Paraprofessional and a Student Teacher?

Paraprofessionals and Student Teachers both provide teaching assistance in the classroom and have similar duties but different levels of responsibility. Student Teachers are in training to become full-time Teachers and spend their time observing Teachers as they present concepts to students, prepare lesson plans and guide classroom interactions. Student Teachers support classrooms for a limited period of time and may shadow multiple Teachers during their training. Paraprofessionals are more hands-on with students and serve a consistent, permanent role for a single classroom. They have more of an influence on lesson planning, classroom activities and student development plans.

 

What are the qualities of a good Paraprofessional?

Good Paraprofessionals are empathetic individuals who can connect with both adults and children. They understand the developmental stages of kids in different grade levels and adjust their communication style to connect with them more effectively. They are excellent at solving problems, communicating with students about their challenges and coming up with ideas about how to overcome them. Successful Paraprofessionals are friendly and optimistic, providing a positive influence over their classroom and encouraging a welcoming environment. They enjoy working as part of a team and take direction well from the Lead Teacher when preparing lessons.

 

What should you look for on a Paraprofessional's resume?

When hiring a Paraprofessional, look for resumes that feature previous teaching or childcare experience to find candidates with the skills necessary to provide teaching assistance in the classroom. Depending on the age group you teach, you can look for candidates who have experience with children in those age range. Top candidates may have additional certifications that qualify them to work with children who have disabilities or other special needs. Skills to look out for on a Paraprofessionals resume include verbal communication, organization, lesson planning, conflict resolution and leadership. For older students, identify applications who have relevant subject matter experience.

 

What are the daily duties of a Paraprofessional?

Paraprofessionals arrive at work in the early morning to prepare the classroom for that day’s lessons. They check out any AV equipment or special materials that they need to facilitate an activity. Paraprofessionals make copies of homework and assignments, preparing batches of paperwork for each class period. They greet students as they enter the classroom and help them get settled at their desk and begin the warm-up activity. During the lesson, Paraprofessionals check in with individual students and ask questions to engage them with the curriculum. They take notes and add them to student reports for the Teacher to review.

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