As of 2017, there were upwards of 50,000 teaching assistants in Pennsylvania. If you'd like to become part of the eight percent nationwide increase of teachers' assistants by 2026, check out the three possible requirements below.
Requirements for Teachers' Aides in Pennsylvania
|Average Salary for Teachers' Assistants in Pennsylvania (2017)*||$26,270|
|Required Degree||Some College|
|Testing Requirements||Praxis ParaPro (Optional)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Option 1: Associate's Degree
There are three primary ways that you can become a teacher's aide, or paraprofessional, in Pennsylvania. The first way is to obtain an associate's degree. This is perhaps a common path for those who are just graduating from high school. Many community colleges in Pennsylvania are approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE). These programs can typically be completed in two years or less, depending on the frequency of semesters taken.
Option 2: College Credit
If you did not go to a community college or complete your associate's degree, you are not out of luck. Provided that at least two years' college credit has been completed, you should be eligible to become a teacher's aide. This also works well for those who want to continue their education to earn a bachelor's degree but would like to work in the meantime. Perhaps you are considering becoming a fully certified teacher. If that's the case, you'll know that a bachelor's degree program is the minimum education requirement, but with an additional two years to go, you may want to begin your experience in a classroom.
Find schools that offer these popular programs
- Adult Literacy Instruction
- Teaching Aide
Option 3: Testing
The final option is to complete a state-approved exam to prove your basic understanding of math, reading, and writing. This can prove to the PDE that you have completed high school with a good understanding of what will be necessary for you in a classroom as a paraprofessional. The first option is for those wanting to work in a special education classroom. You'll need to take the Pennsylvania Special Education Paraeducator Credential of Competency. This covers the ten most important standards for working with special needs children as defined by the Council of Exceptional Children (CEC). These ten standards are:
- Individual differences
- Instructional planning
- Development and characteristics of learning
- Professional and ethical practice
- Foundations of special education
- Instructional strategies
- Learning environments and social interactions
Another exam that you can consider taking is the ParaPro exam by Praxis. Each state has its own requirements for a passing score, and Pennsylvania is unique in this since different counties require different scores. To be safe, you must score no less than 462 (no matter the county) to pass. This exam will test you on the three essential subjects: math, reading, and writing. You'll have 150 minutes to complete 90 multiple-choice questions.
All employees of Pennsylvania school districts, public and private, must be fingerprinted and have background checks run. There are three background checks that will be run to make sure your history is free of criminal activity or misdeeds. The FBI, state police, and Department of Human Services will all run a background check on you after you have gone to a local MorphoTrust location for fingerprinting. The fingerprinting costs $22.60 and is done digitally for a quick turnaround for the background checks.