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Education Support Professionals

More than a half million Education Support Professional members take care of our children every day and make sure they have the tools they need to succeed in our schools and classrooms. 
group of ESPs in blue shirts NEA
NEA celebrated the 96th National Education Support Professional Day with members in Phoenix, Arizona. On average, ESPs have more than a decade of experience in their profession.

School support staff, also known as Education Support Professionals (ESPs), strengthen our schools, communities, and associations across the country. They play a vital role on the education team and in students' lives inside and outside the classroom. They keep our schools running and our students safe, healthy, and ready to learn every day.

For decades, NEA has championed ESPs, their efforts to gain full inclusion in the Association, and their full recognition as accomplished professionals. Today, more than 2.2 million ESPs work in our nation’s public schools and colleges, making up one third of the public education workforce. Of these, approximately a half million are NEA members.

Become a Member

NEA ESPs are represented by 9 career families

An ESP career family is a group of ESP professions that share similar core job skills, responsibilities, education, and training.

Clerical Service Workers

Clerical service ESPs are on the front lines of all office operations, working in settings from schools to administrative offices to transportation facilities.

Custodial and Maintenance Workers

Custodial and Maintenance ESPs keep schools safe and clean for students, staff, and the community.
Food Service

Food Service Workers

Food Service ESPs ensure students have access to safe and nutritious meals, which impacts their behavior, energy levels, thinking, physical health, overall well-being, and ability to learn.

Health and Student Service Workers

Health and Student Service Workers perform a wide variety of jobs that improve and protect students' health and welfare.


Paraeducators assist with classroom instruction and provide direct services to students, families, and the community.
Security ESP

Security Workers

Security ESPs ensure the safety and security of students and staff on school grounds, taking a leadership role in crisis situations, community building, and conflict resolution.
Skilled Trades

Skilled Trades Workers

Skilled Trades workers maintain and service school facilities, buildings, and offices, ensuring they are safe and comfortable for students, staff, and the community.
A teacher helps students use laptop computers

Technical Service Workers

Technical Service ESPs ensure high standards of technology and communications in our schools.

Transportation Service Workers

Transportation ESPs are on the front lines of all office operations, working in settings from schools to administrative offices to transportation facilities.

Key Facts About School Support Staff

Education Support Professionals (ESPs) are critical members of the K-12 and Higher-ed public education workforce.

More than 3 out of 5

have given money out of their own pockets to help students with things such as classroom materials, field trips, and class projects, averaging $282 per year.

A majority (67%)

live in the school district where they work, and many volunteer in those communities.

A majority (76%)

of K-12 ESPs have responsibilities for promoting and ensuring student and staff safety.

More than one half (57%)

of K-12 ESPs and a majority (94%) of higher ed ESPs have an Associate’s or more advanced degree.

View Factsheet on PreK-12 ESPs

View Factsheet on Higher Ed ESPs


ESPs want and deserve better pay. Our report offers a breakdown of ESP earnings for K-12 and higher education. Learn More >>

ESP Professional Growth

We work with ESPs to create learning opportunities and supports for them to elevate their professional excellence throughout their careers. Learn more >>

ESP Bill of Rights

Pledge your support for the ESP Bill of Rights and learn how to build strategic campaigns to 
advocate for a living wage, fairness, and respect for ESPs all across the country. Learn more >>

Job & Career Security

ESPs need protection from layoffs and privatization, which are threats to the entire school community. Take action >>

ESP of the Year Award

Through the annual award, we recognize the contributions that Education Support Professionals make toward their schools, communities, and professions. Learn more >>

ESP Members of the NEA Board

25 State and At-Large elected ESP members make up the NEA Board of Directors responsible for the general policies and interests of the Association. Learn more >>

Become a Member

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National Education Association

Great public schools for every student

The National Education Association (NEA), the nation's largest professional employee organization, is committed to advancing the cause of public education. NEA's 3 million members work at every level of education—from pre-school to university graduate programs. NEA has affiliate organizations in every state and in more than 14,000 communities across the United States.