Additional Career Paths Having Completed an Occupational Therapy Assistant Program

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Special Education Teaching Assistant

A Special Education Teaching Assistant, also known as a Special Education Paraprofessional or Special Education Aide, is a support professional who works under the supervision of a licensed Special Education Teacher or classroom teacher to assist students with disabilities. They play a crucial role in the education process, providing individualized support to help students with diverse needs succeed academically, socially, and emotionally.

The primary responsibilities of a Special Education Teaching Assistant include:

  1. Providing one-on-one or small group support: Teaching assistants work closely with students who have various disabilities, such as learning disabilities, emotional or behavioral disorders, physical disabilities, or intellectual disabilities. They may assist students with academic tasks, social skills, or self-care activities, depending on the students’ needs.
  2. Implementing individualized education plans (IEPs): Teaching assistants help carry out the goals and objectives outlined in each student’s IEP, which is a tailored plan designed to address the unique needs of the student.
  3. Modifying instructional materials: Special Education Teaching Assistants may adapt or modify instructional materials to meet the specific needs of students with disabilities, making learning more accessible and engaging.
  4. Assisting with classroom management: Teaching assistants support the classroom teacher in maintaining a positive and structured learning environment. They may help manage student behavior, implement routines, and supervise students during various activities, such as lunchtime or recess.
  5. Collaborating with the education team: Teaching assistants work closely with special education teachers, classroom teachers, and other school staff, such as school psychologists, occupational therapists, or speech-language pathologists, to coordinate services and support for students with disabilities.
  6. Documenting student progress: Special Education Teaching Assistants are responsible for accurately documenting students’ progress, including academic performance, behavior, and social-emotional development. They communicate this information to the supervising teacher and other members of the education team.


To become a Special Education Teaching Assistant, one typically needs a high school diploma or equivalent, though some school districts may require additional education, such as an associate’s degree or completion of a certain number of college credits. Some states may also require paraprofessionals to pass a competency exam or obtain certification. Prior experience working with individuals with disabilities or experience in education can be helpful in this role.

Work Setting

Special Education Teaching Assistants work in various educational settings, including public and private schools, specialized schools for students with disabilities, and early intervention programs. The specific job responsibilities and scope of practice may vary depending on the school, district, and the needs of the students they support.

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