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What is a Paraprofessional?

what is a paraprofessional

Are you searching for a job where you can make a real difference and inspire other people?

 Working as a Paraprofessional could be perfect for you.

The job involves working alongside trained professionals and providing support as needed. You need to have a flexible approach to work and be able to stay calm under pressure to do this job. While the educational requirements for this career are fairly minimal, you need to complete specialist training. 

So, let’s find out, what is a Paraprofessional.

About The Role

There are several different types of paraprofessional roles to choose from. These include working in a school, working in a medical facility, or working in a legal office. While the environments vary considerably, the role is the same in each field.

You need to be able to work closely with a range of people and perform various duties as needed. This can include providing emotional support, and guidance, and completing a wide range of administrative tasks. 

Duties and Responsibilities

A paraprofessional provides support to experienced professionals and other people within the workplace. This involves working closely with people and perceiving their needs. Here are some of the main ways that support is provided as and when needed. 

Instructional support

This role often involves working with students, legal trainees, and medical trainees. Once you have completed your training, you will provide basic training to individuals and small groups. This includes leading activities and providing additional information as needed. 

Language support

It is often necessary to explain complicated terms and information in different ways. If you choose a position in a school, you will assist students with learning after class. This involves finding ways to make the information come alive so that it can be understood more easily. 

Language support

Behavioral support

This is an important duty if you decide to work with students in a classroom setting. Some students have behavioral issues that need to be taken into account. It is important to work with these students so that they receive the care and attention they need.

Physical and medical support

If you work in the medical or educational field, you will often be called on to perform basic medical tasks. This includes making people comfortable and collaborating with nurses. Associated tasks include providing allergy medication and giving injections. 

Administrative support

A lot of paperwork needs to be completed in each of the main fields. It is necessary to keep track of all the necessary paperwork and make sure it is completed correctly. Being able to provide professionals with the paperwork as necessary is a vital part of supporting them. 

Essential Skills and Attributes

While training is provided, most of the skills required for this role relate to personal attributes. Therefore, it is necessary to take the time to develop them. Here are the main skills and attributes a successful Paraprofessional should possess. 

Communication skills 

This is an important skill for all fields of this career. You need to be able to express information clearly, both verbally and in writing. It is also essential to be able to listen carefully to instructions and follow them to the letter. 

Environment management

Whether you work in a classroom, office, or clinic, you need to make sure the environment is under control. This includes making sure it is neat at all times and well-presented. You will also be charged with making sure the people in the environment have everything they need.


You need to be able to take the lead and make important decisions when necessary. This includes being able to assign tasks to other people and oversee their work. You need to provide clear instructions and be able to motivate people to perform at the optimum level. 


You will often be charged with caring for people who are suffering in some way. You need to be prepared to explain certain types of information several times to make sure it’s understood. It is also necessary to be patient when waiting for people to explain their needs. 


Organizational skills

It is essential to be organized to assist professionals with their duties. This often involves making sure that everything is available so that the professionals can do their jobs well. This is essentially an assistant role, and it involves keeping track of meetings, schedules, and other tasks. 


It is necessary to have a positive attitude to overcome the challenges of the job. This includes demonstrating the correct behavior to students if you work in an educational setting. In the medical field, it is important to remain positive when interacting with patients and their families.


You need to be able to think outside the box to do this job well. Creativity is the ability to approach tasks differently as needed. This can help you to accomplish tasks in the best way possible and make sure an environment runs smoothly. 


You will collaborate closely with a large number of professionals while doing this job. Certain professionals are likely to be busy and stressed, and your job is to make their life easier. This involves understanding the goals and making sure those goals are put first at all times. 

Time management

A huge number of different tasks are likely to need to be completed within short periods. You need to be skilled at managing your workload and prioritizing different tasks. It is also necessary to set aside certain tasks when more urgent duties arise. 


You need to be able to adapt to the schedules of the professionals that you work with. The set duties can vary day by day, and you need to be able to rise to the challenge. It is also important to be flexible enough to anticipate needs and make sure those needs are met. 

Record keeping

You will often be charged with keeping detailed and accurate records as part of your regular duties. It is necessary to maintain files and be able to spot inconsistencies. This also involves attention to detail and the ability to keep track of different files and records. 


Professionals need to know you will be available and ready to work when they need you. It is essential to establish a strong track record for reliability. This includes always being ready to tackle new challenges and constantly exceeding expectations. 


It is essential to be able to put yourself in the place of the people you work with to help them. Having empathy helps you work more effectively with patients who are in pain. It is also important when working with students and other professionals. 

How To Become A Paraprofessional?

If you have decided that this is the career for you, you need to start planning your career path immediately. Each field requires specialist skills and training that you need to complete. Here are the main steps you can take to be a Paraprofessional and advance your career.  

Earn a high school diploma or GED

If you are still in high school, you need to work out which field you want to work in. If you plan to work in education, you can gain experience tutoring other students. Alternatively, you may want to take a basic First Aid course or look into different areas of the law. 

Earn a high school diploma or GED

Complete a college degree

It is usually necessary to earn an associate degree before you can start work. The type of degree you earn will depend on the field you would like to work in. The exact requirements can also vary by state, and it is necessary to get career advice before choosing your degree. 

Gain training or experience

The next step involves on-the-job training. You can often find work placement opportunities while you are still in college. This will allow you to become familiar with the protocols and daily operations of the job. Depending on the field you want to work in, you can gain training in a range of different environments. 

Pass an assessment

The good news is that you don’t need an advanced degree to secure your first job. However, you will need to pass a state assessment to show that you have the necessary knowledge and skills. The type of assessment depends on the state you live in and the field you work in. 

Earn certifications

Although certification is often optional, it will help you take your career to the next level. This shows that you have advanced knowledge and skills in a particular field. There are usually three levels of certification, and you can work on the requirements in your spare time. 

Certifications Needed

Most of the certifications for Paraprofessionals are in the field of education. However, there are also dedicated certifications for the medical and legal fields. Here are some that will help you stand out from the crowd. 

Continuing Certificate as a Teaching Assistant

You need to have at least six semester hours of education study to apply for this certification. You also need to complete a year of experience while holding a temporary license. After gaining certification, you will be authorized to provide direct instruction to students while being supervised. 

Continuing Certificate as a Teaching Assistant

Medical Assistant 

This certification is offered by the American Society of Phlebotomy Technicians. This entry-level certification covers a wide range of essential skills for medical support roles. The coursework features an oral and written exam, and the certification needs to be renewed every year. 

Dental Assistant 

The American Medical Technologists offers this certification to paraprofessionals who have at least two years of work experience. This demonstrates your experience and knowledge of working as part of a dental healthcare team. After gaining this certification, you will be qualified to support chairside, laboratory, and radiological procedures.

During the oral and written exam, you will need to answer questions in different procedures. Once gaining a passing grade, you will be able to take on advanced dental assistant duties. You need to renew this certification every three years. 

Certified Medical Office Manager 

This certification is ideal for people who have exceptional administrative skills and experience. It involves demonstrating a high level of financial management, personnel, and managed care contracting knowledge. The oral and written exam also covers medical record-keeping, risk management, and facility management. 

Child Development Associate 

Gaining this certification demonstrates your ability to understand and meet child development needs. This includes the ability to work closely with educators and parents to focus on the needs of students. You need to have at least two years of training and experience to apply for the certification. 

This includes a detailed understanding of the child development framework. After gaining this certification, it has to be renewed every three years. 

Pre-Professional Teaching Assistant Certificate

This advanced-level certificate is for people who work in the education field. Gaining this certification allows you to offer students direct instructional services under the supervision of a licensed teacher. It is available to applications who have at least a year of full-time experience and is valid for five years.

Endless Professional Assistant Job Opportunities

We have put together an extensive selection of career guides for you to take a look at and decide which one would suit you best. So, let’s start with a more in-depth Paraprofessional Job Description to get a better understanding of what the role entails.

Next, you might be interested in our Teacher Assistant Job Description and the most common Teaching Assistant Interview Questions, as well as our Childcare Assistant Job Description, our Dental Assistant Job Description, and check out our Medical Assistant Job Description, including the Top Medical Assistant Resume Objective Examples.

Lastly, why not check out our Physician Assistant Job Description, our Lab Assistant Job Description, and our Accounting Assistant Job Description, along with our Veterinary Assistant Job Description and our Pharmacy Assistant Job Description for 2023?

Final Thoughts

Paraprofessionals are mainly responsible for providing instructional, behavioral, and other types of support in different fields. 

If you are planning to specialize in a more advanced field, becoming a Paraprofessional is a great way to gain work experience and skills. You will gain hands-on experience and a detailed understanding of the demands of the field. The starting salary for this type of role is around $20,000 a year, which rises over time. 

After a few years, you can expect to make at least $30,000 per year. Gaining certification is the best way to take your career to the next level and earn a higher salary.

All the very best in your new career as a Paraprofessional!

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