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Paraprofessional is a job title given to persons in various occupational fields, such as education, healthcare, engineering and law, who are trained to assist professionals but do not themselves have professional licensure. The Greek prefix "para" as used here indicates beside or side by side (as in "parallel"); hence, a paraprofessional is one who works alongside a professional.
The paraprofessional is able to perform tasks requiring significant knowledge in the field, and may even function independently of direct professional supervision, but lacks the official authority of the professional. For example, a person who hires a paralegal in lieu of a lawyer to complete bankruptcy forms is still considered to be filing pro se.
Some paraprofessional occupations require special testing or certification in the field, while others require only a certain level of education. In some occupations, such as that of teaching assistant (see paraprofessional educator), requirements differ geographically although duties are essentially the same.