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Paraprofessional vs. Teacher: What Are the Differences?

Learn about the two careers and review some of the similarities and differences between them.

A paraprofessional is a teaching assistant who works under the supervision of a certified teacher in a school setting. There are many different types of paraprofessionals, each with their own set of responsibilities. Teachers, on the other hand, are responsible for leading classrooms and teaching students. In this article, we compare and contrast the job duties of paraprofessionals and teachers. We also provide information on the education and training requirements for each profession.

What is a Paraprofessional?

Paraprofessionals work in a variety of settings, including schools, hospitals and social service agencies, to provide support to professionals in those fields. In schools, Paraprofessionals, also known as Teacher’s Aides, work under the supervision of a licensed teacher to provide individualized instruction and support to students with disabilities. They may also assist with classroom management, lesson planning and other administrative tasks. In hospitals, Paraprofessionals may work as Patient Care Assistants, providing basic patient care, such as bathing, dressing and feeding, under the supervision of a nurse. Social service Paraprofessionals may work with case managers to provide support services, such as transportation or housing assistance, to clients.

What is a Teacher?

Teachers are responsible for instructing students and helping them to learn and apply knowledge. They typically work in schools, colleges or universities, but may also work in other educational settings such as museums or libraries. Teachers develop lesson plans, deliver lectures and lead classroom discussions. They also assess student progress and provide feedback. In addition to teaching, teachers may also be responsible for other duties such as providing academic and career advising, supervising student activities or participating in school committees.

Paraprofessional vs. Teacher

Here are the main differences between a paraprofessional and a teacher.

Job Duties

Paraprofessionals and teachers share some job duties, such as preparing lesson plans, instructing students and taking attendance. However, a teacher has additional responsibilities that a paraprofessional cannot perform, including administering standardized tests and evaluating student progress. Paraprofessionals may also have more direct interaction with students than teachers because they often work in classrooms on a daily basis.

A paraprofessional’s job duties are typically focused on providing support to a classroom on a day-to-day basis. This can include things like helping students with their homework or assisting them with learning material before class begins. A paraprofessional may also provide emotional support to students who need it.

In contrast, a teacher’s job duties are more varied and involve planning engaging lessons for the entire class. While they do spend time each week reviewing homework assignments with individual students, they also dedicate time to creating new curriculum for their classes. Additionally, teachers must monitor their students’ behavior both in and outside of the classroom.

Job Requirements

Paraprofessionals typically need to have at least a high school diploma, although some jobs may require an associate degree or postsecondary coursework. Many paraprofessionals also complete on-the-job training to learn the specific skills they need for their position. To become a teacher, you must first earn a bachelor’s degree in education or a related field. After that, you will need to obtain a teaching license from your state. Some states also require teachers to pass a basic skills test and/or a subject matter exam.

Work Environment

Paraprofessionals work in a variety of environments, depending on the needs of their students and schools. They may work in classrooms or other areas where they can provide support to students with special needs. Some paraprofessionals also work in offices at school districts or private companies that specialize in providing services for children with disabilities.

Teachers typically work in traditional classroom settings, but some teachers may choose to teach in alternative education programs such as charter schools or online learning programs. Teachers who work in these settings often have more freedom to create lesson plans and activities that meet the needs of their students.


Both paraprofessionals and teachers work with students in educational settings, but there are some key differences in the skills they use on the job.

Teachers need to have excellent communication skills to effectively deliver instruction to their students. They also need to be able to develop relationships with their students and build a rapport that will enable them to create a positive learning environment. Teachers also need to be patient as they work with students of varying abilities and backgrounds.

Paraprofessionals typically provide support to students with special needs, so they need to have strong interpersonal skills to be able to understand each student’s individual needs. They also need to be able to follow instructions from teachers and other school staff members. Paraprofessionals may also need to have some basic knowledge of sign language or Braille if they are working with students who are deaf or blind.


The average salary for a paraprofessional is $34,281 per year, while the average salary for a teacher is $54,715 per year. The average salary for a paraprofessional may vary depending on the state in which they work, their level of education and their years of experience. The average salary for a teacher may vary depending on the state in which they work, their level of education and their years of experience.


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