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ESP Careers: Paraeducators

One Education Workforce Serving The Whole Student!

About Us and Our Work

  • 91% of us work directly with students at preschool, kindergarten, or elementary levels, and most of us work with students in their early, formative years.
  • 75% of us work with special education students.
  • 83% of us have job responsibilities promoting school safety.
  • 81% of us work full time.
  • 94% of us are female.
  • 80% are married.
  • Our average age is 50.

We are educated: 29% of us have a two-year college degree, 20% have a bachelor's, and 5% have a master's or higher degree.

We are committed: 11 years is the average we have been working in our field. 74% of us plan to stay in the ESP field, and 61% plan to stay in our current jobs until we retire.

We are active in the community: 75% of us live in the communities in which we work. 56% of us have volunteered to read books to students. 30% of us have supported school tutoring programs. 71% of us have spent our own mone to purchase food or school supplies for students.

We are focused on safety: 83% of us have responsibilities promoting school safety. 64% of us have intervened to stop bullying behavior in school. 46% of us have intervened to stop school violence of some sort.

We are the largest ESP group: Approximately 758,000 paraeducators work in the nation's K-12 public schools, making up 34% of the U.S. K-12 ESP work force. We are also the largest ESP group within NEA.

Our Workplace Conditions and Issues

PencilOur jobs need to be better defined. 21% of us do not have a job description at all. For those of us who do have a job description, 15% believe that the description does not accurately describe the amount of work we do.

46% of us are often or sometimes asked to perform duties outside our job descriptions.

We think not having a job description that accurately defines our responsibilities can lead to inequitable pay and to working outside our job classification and legal authority.

We often step in for teachers, but often are not compensated for preparation time, parent conferences, or in-service days.

We would like more participation in decisions that affect our work.

We want more opportunities for advancement and to improve our qualifications. We want careers with room for growth.

We are concerned about our own health and safety. We often work with medically fragile students, administering medications and performing sensitive medical procedures such as catheterizations.  We are susceptible to back and muscle strains from lifting and caring for physically handicapped students.

We enjoy our jobs. Our desire is to focus on smaller groups of students so we can help everyone more effectively.


How We Help Make Public Schools Great For Every Student

We help by assisting with classroom instructions and providing direct services to students and their parents. A large number of us work with special needs students. All of us have responsibilities that directly impact academic achievement and school safety.

Paraeducators: Who We Are

  • Instructional and Noninstructional Assistants
  • Teachers' and Program Aides
  • Library Aides, Technicians, and Assistants
  • Preschool Caregivers
  • Building, Bus, and Playground Monitors
  • Crossing Guards


Visit the ESP Publications page and download a copy of the Who We Are brochure to learn more about ESP Careers!

How We Advocate For Students