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 Special Education Assistant.
As a Special Education Assistant you'll assist elementary and secondary school teachers as they work with students requiring special needs instruction. You will learn about behavior management techniques, including foundational knowledge in Applied Behaviour Analysis.
As you'll discover, there are few things in life as rewarding as helping an individual with special needs achieve their full potential in life.
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 Special Education Assistant Diploma Program at Stenberg College...
The Stenberg College Special Education Assistant Program prepares graduates to:
Demonstrate the knowledge base, skills and attitudes consistent with industry expectations for entry level employment as a Special Education Assistant.
Gain employment in the field within 6 months of graduation.
Typical Job Duties
In a school setting, Special 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
Assist student learning in groups or individually
Be part of a collaborative team
Specific duties vary from one position to another but, in general, under the direction of a teacher, Special Educational Assistants:
Implement program 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
As a Special Education Assistant, you could find employment in a:
Catholic Independent School
Private Independent School
After school programs
Child care centres
Community or youth drop-in centre
Home-based therapy program
Parks and recreation program
Other services in which educational programming is offered
Wages and Career Outlook
Based on employment statistics gathered by Stenberg College, the average starting wage of students who complete the Special Education Assistant program and are working in their field of study is between $17.00-$26.57 per hour. In addition to salary, schools also offer competitive benefits (which may vary by school district).
Use the following sites to obtain more information about career outlooks. 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:
Have a strong commitment to the development, progress and inclusion of students with special needs in education
Find it satisfying to care for others
Have the patience and compassion to help children or adolescents with mental, physical, or behavioural challenges
Have the patience and compassion to help those who are physically, behaviourally, or mentally challenged
Are flexible, sensitive, tolerant, and creative
Have an interest in assisting or supporting others
Have good health and physical fitness
Have competent speaking and writing skills
Program Admission Requirements
Completion of Grade 12 or equivalent
Passing Stenberg College entrance examination
Passing Stenberg College entrance interview
Successful completion of a short written essay
English Language Proficiency Requirements if English is a Second/Additional 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
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 need in school or related settings.
NB: Additional criteria may be required to fulfill industry guidelines; students will be informed in advance of any requirements that need to be fulfilled for placements
Duration and Financing
Duration: 40 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.
The following school districts have accepted consolidated practice experience placements:
SD40 New Westminster
SD42 Maple Ridge
SD43 Coquitlam/Port Moody/Port Coquitlam
SD44 North Vancouver
SD45 West Vancouver
SD42 Maple Ridge
*Catholic Independent Schools also accept consolidated practice experience placements. Speak to your program advisor for more details.