Paraeducator Certification

How do I Obtain a Paraeducator Generalist Certification?

Prerequisites for Obtaining Certification

  • Minimum of 18 years of age
  • Verification of high school completion or equivalence (See Step 2 below for more information) 
  • Participants must have access to a computer/internet in order to take the courses
  • It is preferred, but not required, that participants be employed by an accredited Iowa school district as a practicing paraeducator, or work as a substitute paraeducator in an accredited Iowa school district, or have a teacher and administrator who are willing to mentor you through the certification program. If you need assistance with this, please email the instructor at:

Step 1: Complete Paraeducator Courses I, II & III

To obtain a Paraeducator Generalist Certification, you must successfully complete the following three courses in order:

  1. HL – Paraeducator Generalist Certification Program – Course I Introduction/Foundation
  2. HL – Paraeducator Generalist Certification Program – Course II Instructional Support
  3. HL – Paraeducator Generalist Certification Program – Course III Behavioral Supports

Each of the three Paraeducator Generalist Certification courses involves virtual meetings and the completion of online units. Participants need to have access to a computer and the Internet to complete these courses. 

Fee for each course: $120 (Total $360)

For a list of Heartland AEA classes and to register, visit: 

Paraeducator Certification Quick Search Catalog

Step 2: Submit Application to the Board of Educational Examiners

The application directions and assistance will be provided during Course III. The Iowa Board of Educational Examiners’ (BOEE) application system is entirely online at the BOEE website.

Verification of High School Completion

As part of the online application process, you will need to upload verification of High School completion. This may be a scanned or electronic copy of a diploma, transcripts, letter from the school district on school letterhead or verification of GED completion. Accepted forms of verification include:

  1. High school diploma
  2. High school transcripts with graduation date
  3. Certificate of GED completion
  4. Letter on school letterhead from school district individual graduated from with year graduated listed
  5. Letter from program GED was completed from including year completed
  6. Letter from the State Department of Education verifying graduation or GED completion

Note: If you completed high school outside of the United States, you will still need to verify your completion. This can be a diploma, a letter from a state agency or a letter from the school. Proof of any education completed above and beyond high school would also be accepted. If you completed a college degree, or even several courses from a college or university, that verification would be accepted. If you can have your verification translated into English, that would be helpful. If you are unable to, still submit it to the BOEE, and they will see what they can do. They just need verification that high school was completed.

Background Check and Fingerprinting

The application fee is currently $40, and the background check fee is $35 (+ a $3 convenience fee) payable to the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners (fees subject to change by BoEE). Applicants will complete their background screenings through Fieldprint® Iowa and pay a fee of $34.35 to them.

Term of Paraeducator Certification

A Paraeducator certification is valid for five years. 

Renewal of a Paraeducator Certification

You will need transcript(s) showing three (3) renewal credits, and the certificates of completion for Mandatory Reporter: Child Abuse and Mandatory Reporter: Dependent Adult Abuse trainings. 

For renewals, the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners accepts licensure renewal credits from an approved Iowa provider such as the AEA system, ISEA, or PEI or undergraduate or graduate college credits from a regionally-accredited institution. If you choose an out-of-state program, college semester hour credits must be earned (not CEUs or staff development). Credits need to be earned after the issue date of the current license, or be no more than five years old if the license is expired. Credits should be relevant to education.

Learn more about:

Paraeducator Renewal and Add an Area of Concentration