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Paraeducator vs. Paraprofessional: What Are The Differences?

Paraeducator vs. Paraprofessional
By MegaInterview Company Career Coach

Paraeducator vs. Paraprofessional – what are the differences? Learn everything you need to know about the differences between these roles.

Are you considering a career in education but unsure about the roles of a paraeducator and a paraprofessional? This comprehensive guide delves into the key distinctions between these two vital educational positions. In the realm of education, paraeducators and paraprofessionals play pivotal roles, yet their responsibilities and requirements exhibit notable differences.

This article aims to clarify these distinctions, which are essential for those contemplating a career in either field. We’ll examine the specific duties, necessary qualifications and certifications, and the employment landscape for each role, ensuring a clear understanding of both by the conclusion of this guide.


What is a Paraeducator?

Paraeducators, integral to the educational landscape, operate within classroom environments under the guidance of certified teachers.

Commonly known as teacher’s aides or instructional aides, their role encompasses a range of responsibilities from supporting instruction and managing student behavior to handling administrative duties and providing additional classroom assistance.

What is a Paraprofessional?

Paraprofessionals, another key educational role, work under certified teachers or other professional staff members across various educational settings.

Their focus often lies in assisting teachers with student behavior and instructional management, providing tutoring, and supporting students with special needs individually, in small groups, or within classroom settings.

Paraeducator vs. Paraprofessional

This section will provide a detailed comparison of the job functions, requirements, and work environments associated with the positions of a paraeducator and a paraprofessional, highlighting the unique aspects of each role in the educational sphere.

Related: Paraprofessional vs. Substitute Teacher: What are the differences?

Paraeducator vs. Paraprofessional Job Duties

Paraeducators (also known as paraprofessionals) and paraprofessionals play an important role in the educational system. Both positions have various roles and responsibilities in the classroom and support teachers in various ways. But there are some key differences between the two roles.

Paraeducators provide direct instructional and classroom support to students in various educational settings. They typically collaborate with the classroom teacher, assisting with student instruction, classroom management, and individualized instruction. Paraeducators may also provide support to students with special needs, and they may provide additional instruction or tutoring to students.

On the other hand, paraprofessionals provide general administrative, technical, and support services to students, teachers, and administrators. Paraprofessionals may oversee student records, maintain student data, and provide advice and support to teachers and administrators. They may also provide technical assistance to students and teachers, such as creating spreadsheets or running software programs.

In addition to these differences in job duties, there are also differences in the qualifications and training required for each role. Paraeducators typically need at least a high school diploma or the equivalent, and some may need an associate’s degree or higher. Paraprofessionals often need a bachelor’s degree or higher and may need a teaching certificate or other types of certification.


Both paraeducators and paraprofessionals play a vital role in the educational system, but they have different job duties, qualifications, and training requirements. Paraeducators provide direct instructional and classroom support to students, while paraprofessionals focus on providing administrative, technical, and support services.

Paraeducator vs. Paraprofessional Job Requirements

Paraeducators and paraprofessionals are both invaluable members of the educational workforce, but the roles they take on and the job requirements they must fulfill are quite different. A paraeducator provides additional support and instruction to students in a school environment. At the same time, a paraprofessional is typically a qualified teacher’s aide responsible for more advanced duties.

Paraeducators typically support students in the classroom, either for a single student or a whole class. They are often responsible for helping students understand the material, helping them complete assignments, and providing a positive influence in the classroom. To become a paraeducator, most states require that applicants have at least a high school diploma or GED. Some states may require a paraeducator to have additional training or certification to be eligible for the role.

Paraprofessionals typically work in a more advanced capacity to support teachers and students. They are often responsible for providing additional instruction to students, assisting with administrative tasks such as grading assignments, and helping to oversee the classroom. Paraprofessionals typically need a bachelor’s degree to be eligible for the role, and some states may require additional certification.


While paraeducators and paraprofessionals play an important role in the educational system, their job requirements and responsibilities differ. Paraeducators are typically required to have a high school diploma or GED, while paraprofessionals are often required to have a bachelor’s degree and may need additional certification. Paraeducators are typically responsible for providing support in the classroom, while paraprofessionals are often responsible for providing additional instruction and helping to oversee the classroom.

RelatedParaprofessional vs. Teacher Aide – What’s The Difference?

Paraeducator vs. Paraprofessional Work Environment

Paraeducators and paraprofessionals are both important support staff and members of the educational team, but they have some distinct differences between them. While both positions are designed to provide educational support to students, they have different roles and responsibilities within the school environment.

Paraeducators are typically classified as non-certified support staff members who provide instructional and non-instructional support to students. They often work under the direction and guidance of teachers and other certified personnel. They are responsible for providing individualized instruction and support to students in various settings, including the classroom, small group, and one-on-one. Paraeducators typically do not have the same level of certification or knowledge as certified personnel, and they often have limited decision-making authority.

On the other hand, paraprofessionals are typically classified as certified support staff members. They have more responsibility than paraeducators and are often expected to take on more of a leadership role in the classroom. Paraprofessionals typically have at least a bachelor’s degree and may have certifications or experience in a specific area of education. They often have the authority to make decisions about educational programming and instruction, and they may act as mentors to paraeducators and other support staff members.

In terms of work environment, paraeducators and paraprofessionals often work in the same setting in a school. However, paraprofessionals typically have more authority and responsibility than paraeducators. Paraprofessionals are often expected to lead and manage instructional and non-instructional activities, while paraeducators are more often expected to provide direct support to students.


In summary, paraeducators and paraprofessionals serve important roles in the educational environment. While they may work in the same setting, they have distinct roles and responsibilities, with paraprofessionals typically having more authority and responsibility than paraeducators.

Paraeducator vs. Paraprofessional Skills

Paraeducators and paraprofessionals provide valuable support to teachers and students in classrooms and other educational settings. However, there are some key differences between the two positions. While both roles involve providing educational and social support, paraeducators usually work with students in smaller groups or one-on-one, while paraprofessionals generally work with larger groups. Additionally, paraeducators are typically responsible for providing more basic instruction and support, while paraprofessionals provide more complex and in-depth instruction and support.

Paraeducators typically possess a high school diploma or equivalent, while paraprofessionals may possess a minimum of an associate’s degree in a related field. Paraeducators typically provide more basic instruction, such as reading and math. At the same time, paraprofessionals are often responsible for more advanced instruction, such as helping students with special needs or teaching a foreign language. Additionally, paraeducators are often responsible for providing social and emotional support, such as helping students with behavioral problems or providing guidance and support for students with learning disabilities.

In terms of skills, paraeducators are typically required to have strong communication and interpersonal skills and the ability to work with people of various backgrounds and abilities. They should also possess good organizational skills and be able to multi-task in a fast-paced environment. Paraprofessionals, on the other hand, need to have more advanced knowledge and skills in their field and be able to provide more in-depth instruction and support. They should also have strong problem-solving and analytical skills to effectively assess student needs and develop appropriate strategies to address those needs.


Overall, paraeducators and paraprofessionals play an important role in the education system by providing student support and instruction. While the two roles may seem similar, some key differences regarding skills, qualifications, and responsibilities exist.

Related: Communication skills interview questions and answers

Paraeducator vs. Paraprofessional Salary

The terms paraeducator and paraprofessional are often used interchangeably, but there is a difference between the two. Paraprofessionals are typically paid more than paraeducators, so it’s important to understand their differences before deciding which career path is right for you.

A paraeducator is an educational support professional who works with students in a classroom setting. They often assist teachers by helping with lesson plans, small group instruction, and one-on-one help to students. Paraeducators typically do not have a college degree, although many have a high school diploma or GED.

A paraprofessional is a professional who works in a school setting and provides instructional support to teachers and students. Paraprofessionals typically have a college degree or an equivalent level of education and often have additional certifications or training related to teaching. Paraprofessionals must comprehensively understand the school curriculum, instructional strategies, and classroom management.

When it comes to salary, paraprofessionals make more than paraeducators. Paraprofessionals typically earn a salary that is between $25,000 and $40,000 per year, depending on the state in which they work and the type of school district. Paraeducators typically earn a salary that is between $18,000 and $23,000 per year.

Regarding job satisfaction, both paraeducators and paraprofessionals report being satisfied with their jobs. Paraprofessionals often find the work rewarding and feel fulfilled knowing they make a difference in students’ lives. Paraeducators report feeling a sense of pride and accomplishment in helping students reach their goals.


In conclusion, while the salary is higher for paraprofessionals, both paraeducators and paraprofessionals can find job satisfaction in this field. It’s important to understand the differences between the two before you decide which career path is right for you.

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