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Education Assistant Program

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Also referred to as:

Educational assistant /
special education assistant
.Program Overview 

Get an inside look into the career of an Education Assistant in this VIDEO:

As an Education Assistant, you’ll assist elementary and secondary school teachers as they work with students who may require additional support for academic, ESL, behavioural, and special needs. As you’ll discover, there are few things in life as rewarding as helping individuals with challenges achieve their full potential.

If you believe you’d find it personally satisfying to help children and adolescents with special needs in a school or social service agency, look into pursuing a career as a Education Assistant. The combined delivery format (also known as ‘hybrid’), allows students in different regions to take the Education Assistant program while remaining in their home communities for all academic coursework with the possibility of short travel periods to complete orientation, and additional certifications.

As a Education Assistant you’ll assist elementary and secondary school teachers as they work with students who may require additional support. You will learn about behavior management techniques, including foundational knowledge in Applied Behaviour Analysis.

Please note that the job title “Educational Assistant” is growing in use and is replacing “Special Education Assistant”. The title “Teacher Assistant” is being used less as time goes on.

Here are some things you should know about this challenging career and how to enter it through the Education Assistant Diploma Program (combined delivery format) at Stenberg College…

  • Next Start: March 6, 2017

Program Goals

The Stenberg College Education Assistant Program (combined delivery format) prepares graduates to:

1 Demonstrate the knowledge base, skills and attitudes consistent with industry expectations for entry level employment as a Special Education Assistant.
2 Gain employment in the field within 6 months of graduation.


Typical Job Duties

In a school setting, Education Assistants may:

  • Work with students who have special needs
  • Supervise students in structured and unstructured settings
  • Assist with preparing materials and clerical tasks as required
  • Work under the direction and supervision of the classroom teacher
  • Be part of a collaborative team

Specific duties vary from one position to another, but, in general, under the supervision of the classroom teacher, Education Assistants:

  • Implement programs and management plans
  • Participate in meetings and assist in the implementation of Individual Education Plans/Individual Program Plans
  • Help in supporting the inclusion of students with special needs
  • Assist in setting up learning centers and preparing instructional materials
  • Keep data while observing students under the direction of a teacher.
  • Administrate medication and / or assist with medical needs as directed by a care plan.
  • Work on speech and language activities outlined by a Speech Language Pathologist or Augmentative Communication Specialist.
  • Use equipment, make transfers under the direction of an Occupational Therapist / Physical Therapist.
  • Carry out skill development activities.
  • Inform the classroom or support teacher of student learning difficulties and requests for help.
  • Support learning in community based settings.
  • Assist in behavior and safety plans.
  • Meet professional and ethical standards.
  • Advocate for conditions that optimize success for students with special needs.
  • Advocate for legal and human rights for both students with special needs and their families.
  • Protect the safety and well-being of children and adolescents.
  • Motivate and encourage students to participate in learning activities.
  • Demonstrate activities, set up and dismantle displays, play spaces and work spaces.
  • Facilitate and encourage positive student behaviours.
  • Administer oral tests or act as a scribe for students.
  • Assist with special events and activities.
  • Supervise children during lunch, recess or field trips.
  • Support students to develop healthy relationships at school.

Potential Employers

As a Education Assistant, you could find employment in a:

  • Public School
  • Catholic School
  • Private School
  • After school programs
  • Post-secondary institutions
  • Child care centres
  • Home schooling environments
  • Community or youth drop-in centre
  • Home-based therapy program
  • Residential setting
  • Parks and recreation program
  • Other services in which educational programming is offered

Program Delivery Format

This full-time program is available in two formats: classroom and combined in-class & guided online learning formats.

The combined in-class and guided online learning format allows you to complete the majority of the program within your respective home community for all academic coursework with the possibility of short travel periods to complete orientation, and additional certifications.

Stenberg College has extensive experience delivering programs in a variety of formats, with combined program delivery being one of the most innovative and pedagogically sound. Combined program delivery uses a combination of learning methodologies (guided online learning combined with site-based elements for orientation, skills-based instruction and work experience placements). Program outcomes are met while providing you with rich and varied learning experiences.
As adult post-secondary learners are typically highly motivated, program delivery in a combined model is very well suited as it provides a high degree of flexibility in that content is delivered in an asynchronous manner. The asynchronous format is versatile in that it allows you to learn at your own pace by completing course activities such as readings, participation in discussion forums and posting course questions when additional clarity may be needed. To provide additional support / encouragement, combined programs have also been designed with live Q & A instructor-led sessions so that you can see and directly engage with others in a “real-time” environment. Between live meeting sessions, you are expected to complete specified readings, learning activities and participate in discussion forums. However, you are not required to complete coursework following a dictated schedule (i.e. Monday-Friday 9am-1pm) and can choose the best study times for you (i.e. early in the morning or later in the evening).
You will complete a face-to-face orientation to the program. This face-to-face delivery provides an important opportunity for students, faculty, and administration to meet each other in person. You will also gain effective learning and study strategies and have a comprehensive review of your online learning platform (Moodle). As well, you will receive your First Aid Certificate during this time.
You will complete academic coursework in a guided, interactive online learning environment. Experienced faculty members teach each of the courses, supporting your learning through participation in forum discussions, live classroom meetings, teleconference sessions and tutorial sessions, and evaluation feedback. This coursework also includes Career Search Strategies to ensure that you are given the tools you need to succeed in the workforce upon graduation.
During the program, your will gain specialized training in American Sign Language, Sensory Awareness, Assistive Technology, Autism Spectrum Disorders, Applied Behaviour Analysis, and Managing Hostile Interactions. You will also gain specialized training in Personal Care (hygiene, feeding, and body mechanics).
The eight week consolidated practice experience in the Education Assistant program is an exciting time as you realize how well the program has prepared you with the knowledge, skills, and abilities needed within the workplace. Travel and/or commuting may be required over this eight week period.
Please note that all arrangements and expenses for any travel (including accommodation, local transit and meals) will be your responsibility.


Wages and Career Outlook

Based on employment statistics gathered by Stenberg College, wages for Education Assistants vary between employers and with level of experience. The average wage range of students who complete the Education Assistant program and are working in their field of study is between $22.46 – $26.91 per hour. in British Columbia and $18.51-$30.18 in Alberta. In addition to salary, schools also offer competitive benefits (which may vary by school district).

The related national occupation classification numbers – a system used to group and survey jobs – is “6472”. Please realize that these figures are based on groupings of a large number of related jobs. Wages and career outlook may differ due to your education level, job location, and the type of employer you work for.

The following list shows some other sources for career research. By no means is this a comprehensive list, but it is a place to start:

Is This Program for You?

It is if you:

1 Like working with children or adolescents
2 Enjoy seeing children learn and grow
3 Have a strong commitment to the development, progress and inclusion of students with special needs in education
4 Find it satisfying to care for others
5 Have the patience and compassion to help children or adolescents with mental, physical, or behavioural challenges
6 Are flexible, sensitive, tolerant, and creative
7 Have an interest in assisting or supporting others
8 Have good health and physical fitness
9 Have competent speaking and writing skills

Program Admission Requirements

  • Completion of Canadian Grade 12 or equivalent
  • Completion of English 12 with a grade C or higher or Communications 12 with a grade B or higher or alternate acceptable English assessment
  • Passing Stenberg College entrance examination – CAAT Level C – math testing with a score of 70% or higher
  • Passing Stenberg College entrance interview
  • Successful completion of a short written essay
  • Meeting English Language Requirements if English is a Second Language
  • Completion of a Criminal Record Consent Form under the Criminal Record Review Act

Prior to Program Admission, Program Advisors will outline practice education requirements for the program. Upon enrollment, students will be informed of next steps and timelines. Non-compliance could result in program dismissal. Requirements for practice education placements include:

  • Acceptable Criminal Record Search under the Criminal Record Review Act
  • In addition to the Criminal Record Search, Alberta students may be required to complete a Child Intervention Check
  • Proof of Immunity Status as required by industry
  • Acceptable Medical Examination Form completed by a physician

Program Advisors will work with students to obtain the following:

  • Proof of 50 hours of volunteer or paid experience working with children
  • Reference letter stating suitability to work with children
  • Preference will be given to applicants who have volunteer or paid experience working with children with special needs in school or related settings

Duration and Financing

Duration: 41 weeks, including consolidated practice experience

Financing: You could be eligible for Employment Insurance funding for education, government student loans as well as other financing options; the Stenberg College Financial Aid Officer would be happy to provide further assistance.

Quick Links:

Education Assistant: Program Learning Outcomes

Education Assistant: Program Courses & Additional Certification(s)

Education Assistant: Top Reasons to Choose Stenberg