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Preparing to Become a Paraeducator

In preparing for their professional roles and responsibilities, paraeducators should have sufficient preparation and training. NEA recommends that all paraeducators be given the chance to acquire the basic competencies, skills, and knowledge necessary for their positions. Competencies are identified skills and/or knowledge that an individual must have in order to perform a specific job.



Core & Specialized Competencies


Core competencies are those knowledge and skills that all paraeducators should have, including:

  • Knowledge of roles and responsibilities
  • Communication skills
  • Behavior management skills
  • Knowledge of growth and development
  • An understanding of legal and ethical issues
  • Instructional strategies
  • An understanding of diversity and equity issues

In addition to core competencies, there are specialized competencies for specific job responsibilities. Specialized competencies might include skills and knowledge in:

  • Early childhood education/intervention
  • Students with disabilities
  • English as a second language
  • Transition programs
  • Technology
  • Health and safety
  • Physical therapy (for students with disabilities)
  • Occupational therapy (for students with disabilities)

There are several career preparation programs that exist for paraeducators. These entry-level programs of structured learning are designed to satisfy the requirements for specific competencies. Some technical colleges or community colleges offer programs of study for paraeducators that lead to a diploma or associate’s degree. Many such programs allow credit for appropriate related work experience.

Examples of Career Preparation Programs – Coming soon!