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Special Education Assistant program


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

Or CLICK HERE to view the video.

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...

Program Goals

The Stenberg College Special Education Assistant Program prepares graduates to:

1Demonstrate the knowledge base, skills and attitudes consistent with industry expectations for entry level employment as a Special Education Assistant.
2Gain 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

Potential Employers

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


  • Public School
  • Catholic Independent School
  • Private Independent School
  • After school programs
  • Post-secondary institutions
  • Child care centres
  • Community or youth drop-in centre
  • Home-based therapy program
  • Residential setting
  • 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:

Is This Program for You?

It is if you:

1Enjoy seeing children learn and grow


Have a strong commitment to the development, progress and inclusion of students with special needs in education

3Find it satisfying to care for others

4Have the patience and compassion to help children or adolescents with mental, physical, or behavioural challenges

5Have the patience and compassion to help those who are physically, behaviourally, or mentally challenged

6Are flexible, sensitive, tolerant, and creative

7Have an interest in assisting or supporting others

8Have good health and physical fitness

9Have 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.

Practicum Placements

The following school districts have accepted consolidated practice experience placements:

  • SD23 – Kelowna
  • SD33 – Chilliwack
  • SD34 – Abbotsford
  • SD35 – Langley
  • SD36 – Surrey
  • SD38 – Richmond
  • SD39 – Vancouver
  • SD40 – New Westminster
  • SD41 – Burnaby
  • SD42 – Maple Ridge
  • SD43 – Coquitlam/Port Moody/Port Coquitlam
  • SD44 – North Vancouver
  • SD45 – West Vancouver
  • SD75 – Mission
  • SD42 – Maple Ridge
  • *Catholic Independent Schools also accept consolidated practice experience placements. Speak to your program advisor for more details.

Quick Links:

Special Education Assistant: Program Learning Outcomes

Special Education Assistant: Program Courses & Additional Certification(s)

Special Education Assistant: Top Reasons to Choose Stenberg

Over 92% of our graduates are working in their field of study within 6 months of graduation

2014 - 2015 2013 - 2014 2012 - 2013

Special Education Assistant
BC Ministry of Education
BC Teacher's Federation
Education Canada
Educator's Reference Desk

"This practicum was invaluable because it prepared me for the reality of the profession. I'm proud to be a Stenberg grad."
Jennifer C.