Paraeducator Certification

Paraeducator Certification

Become a Certified Paraeducator

Do you love working with kids? Becoming a paraeducator could be a great fit for you! Paraeducators are school employees who help teachers or other licensed professionals by performing tasks that enhance learning.

As a paraeducator, you'll work under the supervision of educators who design, implement, and assess instruction. Paraeducators are also called paraprofessionals, teacher associates, or teacher aides.

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Certification Levels

Generalist certification is acquired by completing all three steps in any order, with the exception of the 10 hours of service, which must be completed either during or after the completion of EDU-110 Exploring Teaching.

  1. C grade or above in EDU-110 Exploring Teaching
  2. C grade of above in EDU-119 Behavior Management
  3. 10 hours or more of supervised experience in a K-12 classroom
  • Most instructors include a service assignment in EDU-110 Exploring Teaching. If not, this requirement can be completed by taking a one credit independent study. Contact Patrice Becicka at 319-398-5899 x4995 or for details.
  • This service requirement only affects students taking Exploring Teaching Fall 2015 and beyond. Any student taking Exploring Teaching prior to Fall 2015 is not required to complete service.

How to Apply

The Paraeducator Application is online. Go to the Bureau of Educational Examiners (BoEE) website. Create a new account or log into an existing account with the options at the bottom of the page. Once logged into the BoEE online applications system, select "Apply for a New License," then select "Support Services," and finally "First Paraeducator Certificate." 

Application and background fees for Generalist Certification: $75, paid to BoEE. (If applying for one or more areas of concentration and/or advanced certification at the same time as applying for Generalist Certification, the application fee remains $75.)

Generalist Certification Course Work

Generalist certification is met by completing the following two courses:

EDU-110: Exploring Teaching or DSV-100: Introduction to Disabilities Services (DSV-100 no longer exists but is accepted in place of EDU-110)

Introduces the roles and responsibilities of teachers and other educators. The focus is on developing generic teaching skills applicable from prekindergarten through high school. Microteaching is used to simulate actual teaching situations. Typical teaching problems and educational issues are discussed. Students interview and/or observe teachers at work.


EDU-119: Behavior Management (formerly DSV-120: Observation and Management of Behavior)

Develops skills of observation and management of the behavior of others individually and in groups. Students develop strategies for helping others to manage their own behavior. This course meets part of the requirement for the Iowa Paraeducator Generalist Certification. May be repeated one time for credit with permission of coordinator.

EDU-119 Behavior Management is offered one semester per year as an online guided self-study that can be done from your home computer. High-speed Internet is required. Tests in Kirkwood's online courses must be taken at an approved location such as a Kirkwood County Center or a public library, and must be arranged in advance.

Please direct specific questions about how the online format operates to 319-398-4958 or

This certification is met by completing the following three requirements:

1. Complete Generalist Certification

2. 100 hours of field experience in conjunction with one of the following courses:

  • EDU-810 Field Experience (100 hours can be part of one's paid employment as a paraeducator)
    • Requirements for taking EDU-810:
    • EDU-110 Exploring Teaching (C grade or higher)
    • EDU-240 Educational Psychology or PSY-121 Developmental Psychology
    • At least 2.5 cumulative GPA
  • ECE-262 Early Childhood Field Experience (except infant). This course is only for students taking the Early Childhood Education plan of study at Kirkwood

3. Associate of Arts degree in an approved area or 62 approved college credits (Contact Patrice Becicka for approval)

How to Apply

The Application is online. Go to the Bureau of Educational Examiners (BoEE) website at Education Licensure. Create a new account or log into an existing account with the options on the bottom of the page. Once logged into the online applications system, select "Apply for a New License," then "Add an Endorsement." Application fee for each area of concentration: $25.

Application fee for Advanced (PK-12) Certification: $25.

Area of Concentration certification is met by completing the Generalist requirements and taking just one course in the area of concentration desired:

Areas of Concentration

Required Kirkwood Course

Autism Spectrum Disorders

EDU-258 Autism Spectrum Disorders

Careers and Transition 5-12

EDU-279 Transition Services

Early Childhood PK-3

ECE-103 Intro to Early Childhood Education


EDU-249 Cultural & Linguistic Diversity

Special Needs PK-12

EDU-129 Inclusion & Adaptation

Vision Impairments

EDU-259 Vision Impairment Support

The Paraeducator Application is online. Go to the Bureau of Educational Examiners (BoEE) website at Education Licensure. Create a new account or log into an existing account with the options on the bottom of the page. Once logged into the online applications system, select "Apply for a New License," then "Add an Endorsement." Application fee for each area of concentration: $25.


Areas of Concentration Course Work

Areas of concentration certifications are met by the completion of the Generalist certification, plus one additional three-credit course from the following:

ECE-103: Introduction to Early Childhood Education

Gives students an historical and philosophical foundation of the field of early childhood education. Includes an overview of assessment and trends that influence best practices. Explores careers in the field. Addresses influences of families and diversity.

EDU-129 Inclusion & Adaptation

Develops the skills to facilitate the mainstreaming of students with disabilities and work with gifted and talented students in school settings. Students taking the course learn strategies for instructing diverse groups of learners and adapting curriculum and materials. The course includes an overview of the special education system and the evolving relationship with regular education. Issues related to adults with disabilities are discussed.

EDU-249: Cultural and Linguistic Diversity

Prepares staff to work with culturally and linguistically diverse children, including English language learners, those with language disorders, deaf and hard of hearing students. Includes use of technology, instructional methodology, appropriate translation and interpretation procedures, and communication with team members. Participants work collaboratively and individually to develop projects.

EDU-259 Vision Impairment Support

Addresses competencies for state paraeducator certification in Vision Impairments Area of Concentration. Prepares paraeducators to support children with vision impairments or blindness, including those with additional disabilities. Studies roles and responsibilities of the paraeducator in understanding the expanded core curriculum and how to integrate support of these skills into the instructional day, how to ensure student access to the core curriculum, strategies to promote independence and self-determination, and professional and ethical guidelines.

EDU-279: Transition Services

Studies issues related to career and transition programs for children receiving special education services in K-12 programs and for adults with disabilities. Addresses issues of self-determination; career assessment; transition to employment, independent living and postsecondary education; behavior support; and interagency collaboration. Includes the role of the paraeducator in transition settings and the job coach in supported employment settings.

Earning Your Certification

Apply for admission to Kirkwood if you have not already done so. If it has been more than a year since you have taken Kirkwood courses, you will need to fill out a Major Change/Re-Apply form. You will not be able to register for classes until this step is completed.

Here's how:

  • Apply online
  • If your goal is to earn the paraeducator certification only, on the application under Academic Program select "Not Seeking a Kirkwood Degree." Note: Financial aid can only be applied to students seeking a degree. However, if your goal is to earn a degree while also pursuing your paraeducator certification, you should select Liberal Arts (AA).
  • If you change your mind, you should update your major.
  • Write down your k-number (assigned to you when you apply) and keep it where it is easily accessible. You will need it to register for classes, to access your grades, etc.

To register for your course or courses, go to the Search for Courses page of MyHub. From there, you’ll need to sign in. To do that, you’ll need to have your Kirkwood account set up. You can set up your account here, if you haven’t already. If you have questions, visit our MyHub support page or our Guest Student Checklist.

Renewal Application

To renew your paraeducator certificate, you need to complete three units of coursework (one college credit = one unit) from a college or Area Education Agency in any combination listed below.

  • Three units are earned for completing a three-credit course taken to add an area of concentration certificate. The following Kirkwood courses apply:
    • EDU-258 Autism Spectrum Disorder Support
    • EDU-249 Cultural and Linguistic Diversity
    • EDU-129 Inclusion and Adaptation
    • ECE-103 Intro to Early Childhood Education
    • EDU-279 Transition Services
    • EDU-259 Vision Impairment Support
  • One unit is earned for each hour of credit that will assist a paraeducator to demonstrate the knowledge of and the ability to assist students in reading, writing or mathematics.
  • One unit is earned for each hour of credit completed, which supports either the school building or the school district career development plan.
  • One unit is earned for each semester hour of college credit in any college course.

The three units need to be taken after the issue date of your certificate. You can renew only within six months of certificate expiration, no earlier. The state does not send out a reminder for your renewal date; you are responsible for keeping track of this. If your certificate expires, you do not need to start over with your certification process. Simply complete your renewal application and all other required documents.

Applying for Renewal

Once the three units are complete, follow these steps to apply for renewal:

  • Create or log into your existing Bureau of Educational Examiners (BoEE) website at Educational Examiners.
  • Select "Start a new application," then select "Renewal."
  • Make a copy pf your Child Abuse Certification and Dependent Adult Abuse Certification. These must be the 2.0 hour approved curriculum from AEA Leaning Online and the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services. 
  • Obtain your official college transcript that includes the required coursework. To obtain your Kirkwood Community College official transcript, either:
    • Go to MyHub and under Academic Profile click Transcript Request; or
    • Call Enrollment Services at 319-398-5412 and request your official transcript be mailed to you.
  • The renewal fee of $50 will be paid online.

A person submitting incomplete renewal applications to the BoEE office will only have 45 days to send the missing pieces. After the 45 days, the file is closed and and all documents, including the $50 fee, will need to be resubmitted.

Important Note: Renewal of a certificate and applying for an area of concentration certificate are two different processes requiring completion of two different forms, payment of two different fees and submission to two different locations. See above for how to apply for the area of concentration certification. 

If you have questions about the status of your certificate after three months, call the BoEE at 515-281-3482. If you have specific questions that relate to paraeducator certification, contact Geri McMahon at the BOEE: or 515-281-3437.

If you have a criminal history, can you be employed as a paraeducator?
Students who have criminal backgrounds, records of child or dependent adult abuse, and/or appear on the sex offender registry may not be able to pass the background check required to receive state paraeducator certification, or be employed by school districts as a paraeducator.

Kirkwood Community College provides open access and equal opportunity for all individuals so they may increase their employment options.

However, students with criminal backgrounds, records of child or dependent adult abuse, and/or appear on the sex offender registry may not pass the background check required to:

  1. Receive state paraeducator certification, or
  2. Be hired as a paraeducator.

In addition, they may not be allowed to complete observations, service, and field experience in K-12 schools required in Kirkwood's paraeducator certification curriculum (prohibiting them from completing the Kirkwood courses required for state paraeducator certification).

If a student has a felony conviction, abuse or harassment finding, misdemeanor assault conviction, sex crime conviction and/or other crimes of concern, the student must meet with Kirkwood's Paraeducator certification coordinator to discuss the student's future in the program and as a paraeducator.

Will I Learn in a School?

Yes. Courses requiring observations, service, or field experience in K-12 schools include: 

  • Exploring Teaching
  • Intro to Early Childhood Education
  • Field Experience

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