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Degree Overview: Associate of Arts (A.A.) Degree in Paraprofessional Education

Majors Overview February 6, 2014

Those interested working with K-12 students may want to look into an Associate of Arts (A.A.) degree in paraprofessional education. Paraprofessionals are teaching assistants in classrooms. Graduates of a two-year program can continue education into a bachelor’s degree program.

A.A. Programs in Paraprofessional Education

Students enrolled in this program are shown how instruction is imparted in a classroom environment. General education courses are used to impart the fundamentals in teacher education wherein participants are taught various methods for imparting instruction in subjects such as reading and math to children. Once they complete the typical coursework of this program, candidates can seek to become a teacher assistant, or alternately, continue their education by earning a bachelor’s degree in education. Admission criteria typically require applicants to hold a GED certificate or high school diploma.


Students enrolled in an Associate’s degree programs in paraprofessional education are provided education in the basic subjects, in addition to theories of learning and teaching. The majority of programs require students to participate in supervised work experience. Coursework typically include topic areas such as:

•Language development in children
•Psychological principles in teaching and learning
•Children’s literature
•Paraprofessional foundations
•The teaching profession
•Concepts in teaching math

Job and Wage Outlook

A job growth of 10% has been projected for teacher assistants during the period from 2008 to 2018 (source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The growth could be fueled by greater demand for teacher assistants in the foreseeable future, thanks to increasing enrollments and renewed interest in quality of teaching in schools.

In May 2012, teacher assistants in the United States earned an average annual wage of $23,640 (BLS). Teacher assistants may seek employment with education-related facilities and work settings such as public schools, daycare centers and preschools.

Certification and Continuing Education Choices

Paraprofessionals may need licensure in some states, and will need to submit to criminal background checks before they are employed. Requirements may vary from state to state and relevant information on this has been compiled by the National Resource Center for Paraprofessionals, which also includes other educational resources.

Students enrolled in paraprofessional K-12 education associate’s degree programs are often allowed to transfer credits to a four-year bachelor’s degree program in elementary education. Additional coursework may have to be completed by those interested in teaching older children. Public school teachers need licensure in every state, and a bachelor’s degree is the minimum educational prerequisite to be satisfied to obtain licensure. Coursework in a bachelor’s degree program in elementary education may include more classes in practices and theories related to teaching various subjects to young kids.

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