School vacation has arrived and children and teachers are enjoying some well-deserved time off but that does not mean the schools are closed. Summer is the time of year when school administrators plan for the September 1st return to school. If you walk into any local school you will see custodial staff cleaning classrooms and principals interviewing candidates for a variety of school positions including teachers, secretaries, custodians and educational technicians.
We all know that secretaries and custodians play important roles in keeping schools running efficiently and teachers provide the instruction; however, the role of the Educational Technician may not be as familiar. In the past, this position may have been called a Teacher’s Aide or para professional. Educational technicians provide supportive educational services for students in K-12 schools and often provide instruction for children with disabilities.
Educational Technicians who assist in the special education classrooms are supported by the special education teachers. They are taught how to provide individualized or small group guided instruction, assist in the special education or regular education classrooms and help manage student behavior. Educational Technicians find their work enjoyable and challenging. One veteran who has been an Ed Tech for 21 years reported “Each year the needs of the students may be different. Ed Techs get to learn about students’ disabilities and having the summers and school vacation weeks off is a plus.”
Some regular education teachers and special education teachers begin their careers as Educational Technicians. It is a position which provides a novice teacher with opportunities to expand teaching skills, improve behavior management techniques and learn instructional strategies needed for teaching diverse learners.
Andrea Lane has been an Educational Technician with the Bangor School Department for three years and when asked why she likes being an Ed Tech she quickly responded, “It is the most rewarding job I have ever done! I enjoy the fact that they (students) ask me for help and I am doing a service. The hours are amazing. It allows me to work and feel successful and I still enjoy all of my son’s after- school activities.”
To become a certified Educational Technician, candidates need to apply for the certification through the Maine Department of Education. Maine has three levels of Educational Technicians. Educational Technician I requires a high school diploma or GED, Educational Technician II requires 60 semester hours of approved study and Educational Technician III requires 90 semester hours of approved study. Approved study can be college credits or continuing education units (CEUs) issued by a college or institution or in-service credits or contact hours.
There is an application fee for the certificate and all applicants must register for a Criminal History Record Check (CHRC). The background check and fingerprint requirement entail an additional fee. You must send a copy of your original college transcripts and/or CEUs to the Maine Department of Education when you submit your application.
The level of Educational Technicians and the rate of pay vary from school district to school district. In Bangor, Ed Techs can expect to work 25 to 37 hours per week and hourly wages for an Ed Tech III start at $14.70 per hour in addition to some benefits. If you are interested in part time employment and a more flexible schedule, you might consider applying to be an Educational Tutor, Substitute Teacher or Substitute Educational Technician. Each position requires a CHRC, has different credentialing requirements and varying rates of pay.
School principals are reviewing applications now for fall vacancies. If you like children, enjoy being in an educational environment and have some post-secondary education, consider pursuing employment as an Educational Technician and start the process now. The certification may take the Maine Department of Education 4 to 6 weeks to process your application. Information about various Educational Technician positions available through the Bangor School Department can be found on our employment page.
For more information about becoming an Educational Technician please visit the Maine Department of Education website.
By Patti Rapaport, Director of Pupil Services for the Bangor School Department.