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You Can Have a Career as a School Paraeducator or Teacher's Aide

By Edited Dec 20, 2014 3 4

School Jobs Are Fun

If You Like to Work with Kids

 Do you enjoy working with young children or teenagers? Do you have at least a high school diploma? Do you feel that you have strong abilities in English, math or science? If you answered yes to any of the above questions, and are interested in finding interesting, satisfying employment, you may wish to contact your local school district. Even at a time when many people are having difficulty finding jobs, there is still a need for adults of all ages who are willing to help teachers in the classroom. These school district employees do not need to be Certified Teachers. Their job title may be paraeducators, paraprofessionals, instructional assistants, or teacher's aides. Whatever they are called in your state, it is a rewarding occupation for anyone who enjoys working with school age children. How do you find one of these jobs, what qualifications do you need, and what are some of the ways in which you might find yourself helping students and teachers?

Teaching Children

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How to Find Teacher Aide Jobs

First, in order to apply for a job as a paraeducator or teacher's aide, start by looking at the Human Resources section of your local school district's website. Most jobs are posted there. School district jobs usually fall into two categories ... certificated and classified. Certificated positions are held by teachers, counselors and administrators. Other employees are considered "Classified." This is the job category where you will find postings for teacher's aids, paraeducators or instructional assistants, as well as secretaries, clerks, custodians, food service employees, etc. If you have difficulty finding the correct listings on your school district's website, call their human resources office and ask for specific application instructions.

Qualifications for Teacher's Aide Jobs

The qualifications or requirements which need to be met will vary, depending on the specific paraeducator job. For example, if you are assisting Down's Syndrome children in learning social skills, your requirements will be different than if you are going to be helping high school students in a remedial math class. In general, however, you must be at least a high school graduate, and be able to pass a basic test to demonstrate your English and math skills. You also will be fingerprinted and receive a background check. To assist older students, you may also be expected to have completed at least one or two years of college. Some paraeducators at the high school level have four-year college degrees in fields other than education. In other cases, they have a teaching certificate, but they have not yet been able to find a full time job, yet.  Instructional assistants may work at the job for many years, or just for a year or two. Sometimes paraeducators are chosen because they are able to work with a handicapped student, or because they are bilingual.  Often they are young adults who in the process of are going to college part-time to become teachers. Others may be parents, or adults with grown children who enjoy being around kids! If you have life experience with children who have special needs, be sure to let the school district know.  Do not hestitate to apply just because you have never taken any college classes.  The paraeducators in the school district where I work have a variety of backgrounds and educational levels.  Some are even from foreign countries.

Work Assignments for Teacher's Aides

The variety of jobs which paraeducators hold varies widely. You might work just a few hours a day supervising children in the playground or during lunch; you may provide one-on-one tutoring; you might assist learning disabled students in a computer lab; you might help in the school library or media center; you may listen to elementary children read out loud in their reading circle. In other situations, paraeducators sometimes assist physically disabled children who are confined to wheelchairs, or help students who are legally blind. In general, under the supervision of a classroom teacher, you will provide assistance to children who just need a little extra help! The work is rewarding, and is ideal for patient people who prefer to work only during the school year.

On a personal note, I have worked as a Teacher's Aide for the past eight years, and love my job! One of my assignments is to help special education high school seniors prepare for work and life after high school. Since many of the students I work with will never attend a four-year college, this is part of a series of articles I am writing on jobs that do not require a four year college degree. Many of my former student have gone on to lead happy, successful lives as auto mechanics, bank tellers, grocery clerks, waitresses and, yes, even as teacher's aides! Every school year is different, and I have watched with pride as scores of my former students have graduated from high school!

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Apr 24, 2010 11:22am
good post, paraeducators, teacher aide job openings
Jun 15, 2010 2:43pm
Much needed paraeducators and teachers aide. You composed this well.
Jul 3, 2010 3:21pm
Age is not a limitation either. My mom who started her career after she reached 50 became a teacher's aide at the age of 78! She worked in an elementary school for a number of years as a copy room tech, later taking and passing the teacher's aide test. Good article here!
Jul 4, 2010 11:10am
Thank you, thinkwrite17! I plan to continue to work at least a few hours a day at a school for as long as they'll have me (and I'm in my 60's, now). Being a school paraeducator is a rewarding job that makes me feel as though I am contributing to society.
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