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Paraprofessional is a title given to individuals in various occupational fields, such as education, healthcare, engineering, and law. Historically, paraprofessionals assisted the master professional of their field. In more recent times, paraprofessionals have become a professional in their own right, providing services which meet the needs of a particular recipient or community.


The Greek prefix "para-" indicates beside or side by side (as in "parallel"); hence, a paraprofessional is one who works alongside a professional, while being a professional themselves. [1]


  • Paramedics in Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa which autonomously practice paramedicine. Paramedics historically practiced under the medical direction of physicians in these jurisdictions. With a lack of qualified physicians to practice in the field, paramedics themselves became responsible for emergency medical services in the pre-hospital setting. Paramedics, although now distinct provider, continue to rely on the research of emergency medicine which informs and contributes to their own unique practice.


  • Paralegals in the Province of Ontario who are licensed by the Law Society of Upper Canada to provide independent legal services to clients and the court. [2] Paralegals, although now distinct provider, continue to rely on the research of law which informs and contributes to their own unique practice.

Paraprofessional practice[edit]

The paraprofessional is able to perform tasks requiring significant knowledge in the field, and may even function independently of direct professional supervision. It is generally understood that paraprofessionals are the next most qualified professional after the master professional in their field. For example, physicians are more qualified than physician assistants also known as paraphysicians, however physician assistants are more qualified than nurses, paramedics or other health professionals. Lawyers are more qualified than paralegals, however paralegals are more qualified than law clerks or other legal professionals.

Paraprofessional education[edit]

Some paraprofessional occupations require extensive education, testing and certification, especially in the areas of law and health. Others paraprofessionals require only a certain level of education. In some occupations, such as that of a paraeducator, requirements for education and certification differ geographically.

See also[edit]