# What’s the Difference Between a Teacher and a Paraprofessional?

In many areas of the country, both teachers and paraprofessionals are found in both regular and support classrooms. Understanding the role of each is essential if you are entering the field of education.

## The Role of the Teacher

Teachers are responsible for delivering lessons effectively, planning engaging and relevant lessons, and supporting students with their studies by providing regular feedback. Teachers must have at least a four-year degree and be certified to teach in the state in which they work.

## The Role of the Paraprofessional

The paraprofessional provides different types of classroom support, under the direction of a certified teacher. Paraprofessionals are sometimes called student aides, teacher aides, or teacher assistants in different areas of the country. No matter the title, these individuals are often specially trained and may be credentialed in certain school districts.

Paraprofessionals can also engage with students who have Individualized Education Plans. In essence, they function to provide one-on-one assistance for students during instruction and after a lesson has been taught.

## Requirements for a Paraprofessional

The education requirements for paraprofessionals often include possessing a high school diploma or equivalent and having at least two years of college studies, having an associate’s degree, or passing certain assessments. For instance, the ParaPro test may be used in certain areas, although it is not universally required. It just depends upon the requirements of the school district or state and the assessment requirements may vary. For instance, in some North Carolina districts, paraprofessionals must take the WorkKeys® test.

## Becoming a Paraprofessional

The first step in becoming a paraprofessional is determining the requirements of the school district in which you would like to work. This can be a rewarding career for many who would like to work in education. The median wage of paraprofessionals is approximately $22,000 a year, although the top 10% of earners make more than$33,000 a year. For some people, becoming a paraprofessional is the first step in a career path that leads to teaching, counseling, or even social work. If you would like to become a paraprofessional and need to take the ParaPro Assessment exam, we’d love to help! Check out our ParaPro practice tests, study guides, and flashcards.