What is a Special Education Paraeducator?

Paraprofessionals work in a variety of class rooms assisting teachers in a variety of subjects. “We are teaching and learning at the same,” said a para from Bath Michigan. “It’s another reason I love this career.”  

Para’s help teachers with student instruction, behavioral improvements, and give support to students in and outside of the classroom. When working as Special Educators often work one-on-one with students who have special needs.

They also may work with students in a general education classroom and also support classes in a special education classroom. It’s a career filled with variety. 

Michigan is ranked #1 for a Paraeducator Career

Source: Zippia.com Zippia Logo

What Paraeducators Do

  • Paraprofessionals provide instructional, behavioral, and other support to students in and outside of the classroom.
  • Some paraprofessionals work one-on-one with students, while others support small groups or whole classes.
  • Paraprofessionals do not need a four year degree, but they’re required to meet certain qualifications.

Michigan is the best state in the country for ParaEducators salaries according to career consultants Zippia

In a circular frame: An older african-american woman with short black hair sits in a classroom with young children. They are at a table coloring, and the woman is smiling.

How to Start Your Special Education Paraeducator Journey

Step 1: Earn a minimum of an associate’s degree OR 60 credit hours from an accredited institution

Step 2: Assessment

  • ETS Parapro Assessment – required passing score of 460

Step 3 (Optional): gain experience working with children

Scholarships & Grants

Michigan Reconnect is a scholarship program that pays you to attend your in-district community college tuition free or pays up to the in-district rate if you attend a community college where you’re considered out-of-district. Applicants must be 25 years old to apply.

Ensures all eligible Detroit residents have a tuition-free path to a degree. The student should check with the school to ensure their degree is pell-eligible. This scholarship cannot cover programs that are not Pell-eligible. Detroit Promise funding is not competitive; every student who registers and meets the requirements will receive funding if their college determines they have an eligible funding gap.

Amount: $9,600 Stipend

Need help paying for college? Fill out the FAFSA – Federal Student Aid – form each year in October, and you may qualify for loans to help cover college tuition.

Free College Opportunities

Dual Enrollment & Early Middle College Options for High School Students

Dual Enrollment Allows students to earn college credit (up to 10 courses) while in High School at no cost between 9th-12th grade. The classes that students are eligible for must not be offered by the high school or PSA and must lead towards postsecondary credit, accreditation, certification, and/or licensing. 

How to apply – Students are to talk with their high school advisor on eligibility, application, deadlines, and college course options.

Early Middle College (EMC) is a Michigan Department of Education approved five-year program of study.

EMCs work closely with certain colleges to provide students with an opportunity earn a high school diploma and one or more of the following:

  • 60 transferable college credits
  • An associate degree
  • A professional certification
  • The Michigan Early Middle College Association (MEMCA) technical certificate
  • Participation in a registered apprenticeship

Michigan List of EMC’s

Assessments

The ParaPro Assessment measures prospective and practicing paraprofessionals’ skills and knowledge in reading, mathematics and writing, as well as the ability to apply those skills and knowledge to assist in classroom instruction. 

Volunteer to Gain More Experience!

Get hands-on experience and find a classroom near you that is in need of a volunteer!

Job Shadowing

To participate in a job shadow, reach out to a school district and request to job shadow a Paraeducator for a day.

Each school district has their own policy when it comes to job shadowing, but you may need a State ID or a driver’s license to participate.

College Program Information

Click a point on the map to find degree programs, scholarships, grants, and organizations to join!

In a circular frame: An older white woman with long white hair and pink glasses stands in a classroom. She wears a black tee shirt, and smiles while talking.

Paraeducator Story Tellers

Below are videos highlighting special education paraeducators throughout Michigan.
Find out why they love the profession.

Debra Snyder

Clinton County RESA

Being in this rewarding career has a greater impact on this Paraeducator than it has on her students.

Teacher Support Staff Keep Kids On Track

Mona Shores Public Schools

Paraeducator shares the biggest takeaways and best moments in her career of helping kids.

Teacher Support Staff Explained

Mona Shores Public Schools

Paraeducator explains her passion for teaching and helping kids.

Michigan Teacher's Emotional Flash Point

Bath High School

The moment when a Bath Michigan teacher sees how years of work change the lives of her community.

join the success

Don’t just take our word for it, hear from Michigan Paraeducators

A middle aged white woman with short brown hair stands in a classroom. She wears a pink floral button down shirt underneath a red apron. In the bottom left corner is a blue box with white text in it that reads "Debra Snyder".
A middle aged white woman with long blonde hair stands in the hallway of a school. She wears silver earrings and a silver necklace, a pink shirt, and a black sweater. She is speaking. In the bottom left corner is a blue box with white text in it that reads "Ann Koch".
An older white woman with long white hair and pink glasses stands in a classroom. She wears a black tee shirt, and smiles while talking. In the bottom left corner is a blue box with white text in it that reads "Rhonda Grevious".

join the success

Don’t just take our word for it, hear from Michigan Paraeducators

A middle aged white woman with short brown hair stands in a classroom. She wears a pink floral button down shirt underneath a red apron. In the bottom left corner is a blue box with white text in it that reads "Debra Snyder".
A middle aged white woman with long blonde hair stands in the hallway of a school. She wears silver earrings and a silver necklace, a pink shirt, and a black sweater. She is speaking. In the bottom left corner is a blue box with white text in it that reads "Ann Koch".
An older white woman with long white hair and pink glasses stands in a classroom. She wears a black tee shirt, and smiles while talking. In the bottom left corner is a blue box with white text in it that reads "Rhonda Grevious".

Questions About Your Educator Journey?