Individuals interested in working with K-12 students can become educational paraprofessionals by earning an associate's degree in paraprofessional education. In addition to completing general education courses, such as English composition, mathematics and science, students study child development, classroom management and psychology. Most programs call for supervised fieldwork in a real classroom. This 2-year degree is required in many school districts for employment as a paraprofessional and is mandatory for paraprofessionals at schools with Title I programs.
Associate's Degree in Paraprofessional Education
Associate's degree programs in paraprofessional education provide education in the basic subjects, along with theories of teaching and learning. Course topics include:
- The teaching profession
- Paraprofessional foundations
- Language development in children
- Concepts in teaching math
- Children's literature
- Psychological principles in teaching and learning
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
Growing student enrollment may fuel the demand for teacher assistants in the coming years, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Predicted job growth for teacher assistants was 4% for 2018-2028 (www.bls.gov). The average yearly salary for teacher assistants was $28,750 in May 2018. Teacher assistants may find work in preschools, daycare centers, public schools and other education-related facilities.
Continuing Education and Certification Information
Some states may license paraprofessionals, and those who pursue work in a school will have to undergo a criminal background check. The National Resource Center for Paraprofessionals (www.nrcpara.org) has information regarding each state's requirements, along with other educational resources.
Paraprofessional K-12 education associate's degree programs often include the opportunity to transfer to a bachelor's degree program in elementary education. Those who seek to teach older children may have to complete additional coursework. All states license public school teachers, and the minimum education requirement for licensing is typically a bachelor's degree. A bachelor's degree program in elementary education may include more coursework in theories and practices for teaching a variety of subjects to young children.
The curriculum of an associate's degree program in paraprofessional education includes courses in the areas of psychology, human development and language development. Graduates may find work in K-12 settings as teacher assistants, an occupation expected to have average employment growth, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).