Paraprofessional educators, also called teacher assistants, monitor lunchrooms and study areas, grade tests, review lessons with students and assist students with projects. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects favorable job opportunities for paraprofessionals, but this is partly due to turnover because of low pay. Louisiana ranks 49th of the 50 states for average paraprofessional salaries.
The occupation of paraprofessional is a large one, with about 1.3 million of these workers employed nationwide in 2009, the BLS found. About 16,850 paraprofessionals worked in Louisiana schools in 2009, with the largest number in the New Orleans-Metairie-Kenner region, with 3,500 paraprofessionals; in Baton Rouge, with 2,580; in Shreveport-Bossier City, with 1,810; and in the New Iberia nonmetropolitan area, with 1,800.
Nearly 40 percent of paraprofessionals work part time, says the BLS. The agency does not provide an hourly wage figure for paraprofessionals, and schools usually designate their pay rate with a yearly amount. The average paraprofessional salary in Louisiana was $17,990 per year as of May 2009. That was about 26 percent lower than the nationwide average of $24,280 per year.
The middle 50 percent of Louisiana paraprofessionals were earning $15,270 to $19,850 per year in 2009, according to the BLS. The bottom 10 percent had annual salaries at or below $14,340, and the top 10 percent $23,190 per year and higher.
The highest salaries on average for paraprofessionals in Louisiana were in the New Orleans-Metairie-Kenner region, at $21,130 per year, in Lafayette at $18,370 and in Baton Rouge at $18,050. The lowest average pay rates were in the Hammond nonmetropolitan area, at $15,920, and in Alexandria at $16,020. Average paraprofessional salaries in other areas of Louisiana ranged from about $16,200 to $17,500 annually.
Only Mississippi had a lower average salary than Louisiana for paraprofessionals in 2009, at $16,720 per year. Other states comparable to the Louisiana average salary for this occupation were Alabama at $18,600, Arkansas at $18,660, South Carolina at $18,910 and Tennessee at $18,920.