How to Become a Teacher Assistant

Written by

Beatrice Harrison


August 14, 2014


Teachers effectively manage classrooms, but often need the help of teacher assistants. Teacher assistants help teachers with much of the work, allowing the teacher more time for instruction, administration and lesson planning.

What does a teacher assistant do?

Teacher assistants (teacher aides, instructional aides) provide support to teachers in the classroom. They help with activities and clerical work to allow teachers to spend more time teaching students and planning lessons. They help and support children in learning and applying class material. Teacher assistants also provide students with individual attention when students are having difficulties with class material.

Teacher assistants help with instructional support under the supervision of teachers. They work with students in small groups or individually in a variety of tasks. They assist students obtain information for assignments or reports, review class lessons, and listen to students read.

Teacher assistants that work in secondary levels often specialize in a specific subject, such as English or science. They are often in charge of special projects and prepare materials and equipment.

Teacher assistant duties include helping teachers record grades, setting up instruction materials, keeping attendance and health records, stocking supplies, and preparing equipment. Teacher assistants also help supervise students in areas outside the classroom such as field trips, the cafeteria, outside on the playground, and hallways. Some teacher assistants work in computer laboratories to assist students in using computers and other technology.

Most teacher assistants work at the elementary and secondary level, but some work in childcare centers and preschools. Many also work with special needs children to provide additional support in the classroom.

What kind of training does a teacher assistant need?

The requirements for teacher assistant training differ for each state and school district. Some teacher assistants enter the field with just a high school diploma and training on the job, but some have a formal postsecondary education. A college degree in child development or education greatly improves job opportunities. Many states require teacher assistants who work in low-income schools to have an associate degree in education or child development, 2 years of general formal education or pass a local or state assessment examination. Many colleges offer associate degrees and certificate programs to prepare students to pursue positions as teacher assistants.

All teaching assistants receive some degree of on the job training. They must become familiar with the rules and operation of the school and the school system. They must also learn class materials and teaching techniques of the teachers they are working with.

Teacher assistants can advance and pursue teaching positions by earning bachelor degrees. Their previous experience will assist in landing job opportunities. Some school districts even provide tuition reimbursement for teaching assistants pursuing advance education. Click here to get a list of online teacher assistant certification programs.

What are the prospects for a career as a teacher assistant?

Employment for teacher assistants is projected to grow about as fast as average, increasing 10%, from 1.3 million jobs in 2012 to more than 1.4 million jobs in 2016.

Opportunities for teacher assistant jobs are expected to be favorable. Jobs for teacher assistants with at least 2 years of postsecondary education and significant experience in specialized areas such as special education or bilingual education will have an advantage.

How much do teacher assistants make?

Currently, teacher assistant salary ranges between $18,632 and $22,550 a year, with the highest 10% earning more than $25,439 a year. Once a teacher assistant gains more experience and completes post-secondary education, they may advance to a career in teaching with a significant pay increase.

People who enjoy working with children and assisting teachers in classrooms are a great fit for teaching assistant positions. Teaching assistants must be able to perform a variety of tasks from administrative duties to more strenuous tasks such as lifting equipment. Teacher assistants must be patient and be able to efficiently handle stress and manage time well. They must also be good communicators and have good writing skills. Click here for a list of programs to get your teacher aide certification online.

Becoming a Teacher Assistant Requires Skills & Training, Start Today

Are you serious about becoming a Teacher Assistant? Then you need to get the required skills and training to do it! To start your new career, first you must decide what school you want to enroll in, so you need to gather info about potential schools. Use the  College Mouse Degree Search tool  to find the right course and college for you, and get started towards your new dream job today! If you want more personalized assistance, call (888) 389-7996 TOLL FREE to speak with a college advisor, who will help you find the best college for you. After you sign up for your course, make sure you fill out and submit the FAFSA so you can take advantage of any financial aid currently available to you!

Written by:  Beatrice Harrison

Educated at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, Beatrice Harrison has extensive professional experience in career counseling, having helped a growing number of job seekers find fulfilling and meaningful careers in a variety of fields and disciplines.

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