Training and Education
|Recommended Degree Level||Certificate or Higher|
|Number of Jobs, 2012||1,185,700|
|Annual Job Growth Rate||3.5%|
|Job Openings per Year (est.)||48,160|
- Depending on the specific school district requirements, teaching assistants usually must hold at least a high school diploma.
- An associate degree or certificate program may be required for some teaching assistant positions.
What You Study:
Areas of study in a certificate or degree program can include:
- Introduction to Education
- History or Fine Arts
- Psychology and Child Development
- Introduction to Computers
- Physical Education
Shows a brief overview of what teaching assistants do. Created for the US Dept. of Labor.
A Day in the Life
As a teaching assistant, you will spend most of your time working with students in a classroom setting. However, your duties will definitely vary depending on the age group with whom you choose to work.
In the preschool or elementary school setting, you may work one-on-one with kids to help them master new skills. Your students may need emotional support or extra attention that the regular classroom teacher cannot easily provide; as a result, you will serve as a sounding board and a friendly shoulder for these younger children.
If you work in a public or private high school, you may tutor some of your students or provide them with added educational support. Especially in larger classes, your duties may include discussing behavioral issues or maintaining order in what can be a chaotic classroom setting
Your duties as a teaching assistant will most likely include the following:
- Maintaining discipline in the classroom
- Acting as a mediator for disputes between students
- Working with children to help them succeed in the school setting
- Reading stories aloud to children during scheduled quiet times
- Providing assistance to teachers in grading papers and passing out assignments
- Helping to set up and put away audiovisual and technological equipment in the classroom setting
- Monitoring and recording the progress of students
- Tutoring in a variety of academic subjects
- Managing bad behavior effectively
- Creating lesson plans to attract and hold the attention of younger children
- Escorting kids to recess, lunch and other activities
You may also work with special needs children in order to provide added support for them in managing bathroom breaks, mobility issues or learning disabilities in a regular classroom. These students often require one-on-one attention to make this transition successful.
Your lead teacher may serve as a mentor for your career and can help you succeed in this highly rewarding field. Best of all, you'll be shaping the lives of students and making a real impact on the next generation of leaders.
Certifications and Licensing
Many states offer their own certification programs for teaching assistants; these certifications may include educational requirements as well as a specified amount of meaningful contact time within a classroom. Additionally, the standardized testing company ACT offers its own Proficiency Certificate for Teaching Assistants. This certificate includes three WorkKeys examinations that allow teaching assistants to demonstrate their proficiency in a variety of classroom subjects. A fourth element in achieving certification through this ACT program is composed of an in-depth evaluation of the teaching assistant in a number of structured activities within the classroom setting.
Full-time versus part-time:
Over 75 percent of teaching assistants work in elementary and high school settings; most are employed full-time. Work schedules generally mirror the regular school hours and may continue through the summer vacation in schools that offer programs for their students during this time period. Hours may be adjusted to accommodate the needs of the individual in some cases.
These online resources can provide valuable information for teaching assistants and others in the education profession.
- U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Handbook -- This website is an essential resource for teaching assistants and those considering a career in the field of education. It offers salary ranges, typical job duties and other important information to help students make the right career choices.
- Association for Childhood Education International -- This in-depth website offers insights into the state of education in the U.S. and around the world. Teaching assistants can develop a deeper understanding of the issues facing educators and the challenges that lie ahead in this rewarding field.
- The National Education Network -- Based in the United Kingdom, this website provides a wide range of teaching resources, lesson plan ideas and links to free online educational materials for use in the classroom setting.
- American Federation of Teachers --A member organization for educators in the U.S., the American Federation of Teachers publishes a number of journals designed specifically for those in the teaching field. This website is an outstanding resource for news and current events in the educational world and can provide perspective on difficult issues for teaching assistants.
- National Resource Center for Paraeducators -- Teaching assistants can find valuable information on state and federal guidelines for their profession on this specialized website. Additionally, the site offers a discussion board, an online bookstore, a suggested bibliography and information on conferences held by the organization throughout the year.
- National Education Association -- Representing the interests of teachers throughout the educational field, the NEA serves as an advocate for both students and educators. The website provides information on continuing education opportunities, certification options and current events in the field of education.