Special Education Paraeducator


Special Education is an important and exciting career for persons interested in the education of children with disabilities! The federal Individuals With Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA) and related state laws and standards require personnel working with children with disabilities to be appropriately trained and qualified. Northampton Community College's special education program prepares students with the competencies necessary to meet these requirements. Grounded in a philosophy that emphasizes family and disability perspectives, inclusive practices, and current educational approaches, like Universal Design for Learning (UDL), NCC's special education program provides a valuable program of study.


The Special Education Paraeducator (A.A.S.) degree is designed to prepare individuals to work with children with varying abilities in diverse educational classrooms, under the direct supervision of a certified teacher. A Special Education Paraeducator Specialized Diploma is also available. Students who successfully complete either option are considered "highly qualified" and satisfy the requirements for Pennsylvania's Credential of Competency for Special Education Paraeducators. NCC will assist students with the credentialing process.

Graduates are qualified to work as special education paraeducators, sometimes referred to as teaching assistants, in a wide variety of educational settings. Students are prepared to respect and value the unique perspectives of family and children with disabilities as well as the importance of building and maintaining collaborative relationships. To this end, NCC's curriculum offers a combination of special education coursework and field experience opportunities that integrate federal and state special education policy, standards, and professional competencies.

Special Education Courses are offered at the Bethlehem Campus during the day and evenings. SPED160 is also offered at the Monroe Campus. All special education courses are offered online. Additional AAS required coursework can be taken day, evening, or through online options.


Graduates of the program will:

  • Explain the philosophy, foundation, requirements, and current trends relevant to special education programs and practices.
  • Describe universally-designed and inclusive environments.
  • Apply appropriate instructional responses using multiple and varied assessments, technologies, strategies, and supports within a universally-designed and inclusive framework.
  • Discuss the role and nature of collaborative relationships between schools and families.
  • Define and use special education vocabulary, professionalism, and ethical practices, to support thinking and communicating in educational environments.
  • Act as a paraeducator in diverse learning environments.


A student must maintain a grade of "C" or better in all Special Education courses.

Career Potential: Paraeducator, teacher assistant

NCC students are employed by: Intermediate Units, Early Childhood Centers, School Districts