Public school paraprofessional educators, also known as teacher assistants or instructional aides, take on other tasks that free teachers to spend more time teaching. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects favorable job prospects for education paraprofessionals through at least 2018. Salaries for Illinois education paraprofessionals are generally lower than the national average.
Paraprofessional educators provide students with individualized attention, assisting them with schoolwork and educational software programs. These teaching assistants record grades and help prepare instructional materials. They also monitor students in the cafeteria, in hallways and on the playground. About 60 percent of education paraprofessionals work full time as of 2009, notes the BLS.
Many paraprofessional educator positions require only a high school diploma. Nevertheless, completing a college degree or coursework in child development improves job opportunities, advises the BLS. Those working in Title 1 schools, which are schools with a large percentage of students from low-income homes, are required to have some college background or proven academic skills. The PayScale salary survey website shows most workers with the title of education paraprofessional earn from $9.50 to $14.75 as of December 2010, although the median range for those with 20 years or more of experience reaches $20 per hour. Workers with the title of teacher assistant have a wider median range of hourly pay, at $8 to $15. The median range for paraprofessional educators in school districts is $10 to $13.60.
The average nationwide salary for education paraprofessionals as of May 2009 was about $24,300, as reported by the BLS. Those in Chicago had median salaries in the range of $19,600 to $26,000 as of December 2010, indicates PayScale. Salary.com shows teacher assistant salaries in Chicago somewhat higher, at $21,800 to $30,000, with a median of about $19,500. Teacher assistants in Champaign and Moline had median salaries of $19,400 to $19,600, and in Peoria, about $20,000.
Employment Outlook and Benefits
Employment opportunities for paraprofessionals in public schools and elsewhere should be best for those with at least two years of education beyond high school, reports the BLS. Those who can speak a foreign language or who have experience working with special education students also have better job opportunities. Full-time paraprofessional educators usually receive health insurance and other benefits.