A career ladder for paraprofessionals


Paraprofessionals perform vital work in New York City public schools. The UFT is committed to offering them opportunities to grow professionally and take on new responsibilities if they so choose.

Two para positions

The position of paraprofessional classroom manager was created in the fall of 2020 to meet the new demands of the pandemic. The para classroom manager manages a classroom of students under the general direction of a pedagogue while the students perform independent work, eat during noninstructional lunch and/or are being taught by a remote teacher during synchronous learning. Paras who accept the position may also be asked to staff isolation rooms in schools. The position comes with a per-term stipend of $1,750. In the 2020–21 school year, there were nearly 1,900 para classroom managers.

The lead teacher assistant, a career ladder position for paraprofessionals, gives paraprofessionals the opportunity to play a broader instructional role in the classroom. They don’t have to be under the direct supervision of a teacher at all times. Paras who are lead teacher assistants may fill in for a teacher during the teacher’s absence for up to 10 days over the course of a school year. Lead teacher assistants earn an additional $5,000 a year for their work. Last school year, there were about 80 lead teacher assistants citywide.

Educational advancement

For paras interested in becoming teachers, school counselors, psychologists or other titles, the UFT Paraprofessional Chapter’s career ladder, officially called the Career Training Program, is a benefit fought for and won by the UFT. It was part of the first city Department of Education-UFT paraprofessional contract in 1970. Through it, the city DOE funds up to 18 college credits a year and provides release time for paras to attend school. Thousands of paras have taken advantage of the Career Training Program over the years.

The program has expanded to include:

Paraprofessional Student Teaching Leave of Absence Program: In cases where colleges or universities will not accept work as a paraprofessional in lieu of student teaching, the DOE will provide a 40-day paid leave of absence for paras to complete student teaching requirements. The number of paras given leaves each year may not exceed 100. These special leaves of absence are by application only. Applicants must receive approval before they can begin their leave of absence.

Paraprofessional to Teacher Pathway Graduate Reimbursement Program: This program offers financial support to eligible paraprofessionals who are interested in pursuing a career as a teacher and are matriculated in a graduate education program.

Paraprofessional Certification Testing Reimbursement Program: This program offers financial support to eligible paraprofessionals who are interested in pursuing a career as an educator within the city public school system. The DOE will give paraprofessionals a one-time reimbursement of up to $400 for New York State certification examinations once initial certification is granted.

Visit Career Training for Paraprofessionals for more information.

LEAP to Teacher Program: This program is offered by the CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies in collaboration with the UFT and participating colleges in all five boroughs. It helps place UFT paraprofessionals at participating colleges and provides them with a wide range of free, specialized support services — over and above the union’s tuition support — for undergraduate or graduate study.

In addition, the UFT offers paraprofessionals low-cost and relevant courses, all providing Continuing Teacher and Leader Education (CTLE) hours. Offered by the UFT Teacher Center, LearnUFT and, in collaboration with the DOE, the Paraprofessional Academy, these courses are by educators for educators and on a range of relevant topics.  Visit LearnUFT and the UFT Teacher Center for current offerings. 

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Source URL: https://www.uft.org/news/you-should-know/know-your-benefits/career-ladder-paraprofessionals