How to Become a Teacher's Aide in Washington State

Jan 02, 2019

If you want to assist teachers in the classroom, you've likely considered becoming a teacher's aide. We've compiled the most traditional method for becoming an aide in Washington state.

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Washington teachers' assistants earned the fourth-highest pay in the country in 2017, on average, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Only those in Alaska, California and Washington, D.C., earned higher salaries than their Washington state counterparts. To learn how to become a teacher's aide, or paraeducator, in Washington, please continue reading.

Requirements for Teachers' Aides in Washington

Average Salary for Teachers' Assistants in Washington (2017)* $33,630
Required Degree High School Diploma
Required Field Any
Testing Requirements Praxis ParaPro

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Step 1: Meet the Age Requirements

There are few requirements to become a paraprofessional in Washington state. The first is an easy requirement to meet, because all you need to do is stay alive! You must be 18 or older to work as a paraprofessional in Washington. This helps to set you up for the second step.

Step 2: Complete Your Education

There are a few things you'll need to keep in mind when wanting to become a paraprofessional. The first is that all that is required to work as a teaching assistant is to have a high school diploma or its equivalent. That is not to say that your education must end here. In fact, there is a third requirement for paraprofessionals. This requirement can be met four ways, and three out of the four include furthering your education. The four paths are:

  • Earning an Associate of Arts degree or higher from an accredited college.
  • Completing 48 semester credits from an accredited college. This is typically a bit less than an associate's degree requires, but if you are seeking a bachelor's degree and want to work while you complete it, this could be a good option for you.
  • Completing an apprenticeship program registered with the Washington State Apprenticeship and Training Council.
  • Passing the ParaPro exam.

Step 3: Pass the Exam

Aspiring paraeducators may take the Praxis ParaPro exam instead of or in addition to college coursework or an apprenticeship. This exam tests future aides on their math, writing, and reading knowledge. Each state that accepts the ParaPro exam requires its own passing score; for Washington that minimum score is 461. The exam includes 90 multiple-choice questions, and you'll have 150 minutes to complete all questions. The exam cost is $55, and if you'd like additional reports on your scores, each is another $50.

Step 4: Be Fingerprinted

In Washington, all teachers and approved employees must be fingerprinted and have a background check run. As a paraprofessional, you'll be considered an employee, so you must have a background check run. To do this, you can go through various outlets to be fingerprinted, though the most traditional is to go through an Educational Service District (ESD) location. When you go to a local ESD location, you'll have your fingerprints digitally scanned for a quicker turnaround on the background check. The cost for this is $43 plus the processing fee.

Step 5: Complete the Fundamental Course of Study

Before working directly with students, paraeducators in Washington must complete 28 hours of training called the Fundamental Course of Study. Topics covered include reading, writing, math, computers, ethics, cultural awareness, professional conduct, child and adolescent development and communication. This training is the foundation for various paraeducator certificates you may earn as you progress in your career, including a general certificate, subject matter certificates and an advanced certificate, which require minimum hours of professional development training.

Certification Resources for Washington Teachers' Aides

Washington requires a score of 461 or higher on the ParaPro Assessment. To be sure you're ready, try this ParaPro study guide, which helps with the reading, writing and math topics covered during the exam.

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