Paraeducator Certification

Update to Governor’s Proclamation – September 2021

The emergency proclamation issued on September 17 by Governor Kim Reynolds allows for paraeducators who hold a substitute authorization on their paraeducator certificate to substitute in any classroom, not just their assigned classroom.


SECTION EIGHT. Pursuant to Iowa Code 29C.6(6) and Iowa Code 135.144(3), and in conjunction with the Iowa Department of Public Health, I temporarily suspend the regulatory provisions of Iowa Code 272.12 and Iowa Admin. Code rule 282-22.2, limiting the holder of a paraeducator certificate with a substitute authorization appearing on the certificate to substituting only in the special education classroom in which the paraeducator is employed.  For the duration of this disaster proclamation and any extension of this suspension, a paraeducator who holds or obtains a substitute authorization on a paraeducator certificate may substitute in any classroom in grades pre-kindergarten through 12, except in a driver’s education classroom.


Paraeducator certification programs are specifically designed for paraeducators already employed by a school district.  Individuals interested in becoming a paraeducator in order to obtain a school district job should contact their local community college to enroll in their program.

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
  • Meet one of the following:
  1. You are employed by an accredited Iowa school district as a practicing paraeducator 
  2. You are employed as a substitute paraeducator in an accredited Iowa school district
  3. You have a teacher and administrator who are willing to mentor you through the certification program

Step 1: Complete Paraeducator Courses I, II, and III

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

  1. PL – Paraeducator Certification-Introduction (Foundations and Professionalism)
  2. PL – Paraeducator Certification Course: Instructional Support
  3. PL – Paraeducator Certification Course: Behavioral Supports

The Paraeducator Generalist I certificate program is delivered in three 30-hour courses. Participants will be expected to attend one face-to-face session on the first day ONLY. The remaining hours will be online Moodle units with weekly assignments to complete the additional hours needed to receive a passing grade for this class. Participants must have access to the internet and iPad or laptop computer.

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

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’ 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 State Department of Education verifying graduation or GED completion

Background Check and Fingerprinting

As part of the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners’ application process, a background check and fingerprinting are required for all new applicants for Iowa licensure.

Application Fee (subject to change by the BOEE): $115 ($40 Application Fee; $75 Background Check Fee)

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.

Important contacts

Staff Directory
Image thumbnail for Linda Ankeny

Linda Ankeny

License Renewal Coordinator

712-346-5005 Email Linda Ankeny
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Carrie Guerin

License Renewal Specialist

515-705-7148 Email Carrie Guerin