Teaching assistants work with teachers to provide extra instruction or attention to students. Many states employ both teaching assistants and aides, but they have different duties. For example, teachers' aides help supervise and care for children while assistants help teach and direct students. Job requirements vary significantly between states and districts, but teachers' assistants should know the basics of child care and development.
Get an Education
Requirements for teachers' assistants depend on the job and district, but typically range from a high school diploma to an associate's degree. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that schools with Title 1 programs, which are for those with large proportions of students from low-income households, often require at least two years of college or passing a local or state assessment. Teaching assistants should know how to monitor students and create lesson plans. They must be patient and resourceful and have good interpersonal skills.
Certification requirements are different in every state. For example, the New York State Education Department reports that teaching assistants must be certified as Level I, II, III, pre-professional, temporary or continuing teachers' assistants. Other states may require teaching assistants to hold a Child Development Associate Credential, or a state equivalent, from the Council for Professional Recognition. The CDA credential is available with focus on preschool ages or infants and toddlers. The exam cost $425, as of 2013.
Meet Specific Criteria
Some states or employers have certain other requirements for teaching assistants. According to the BLS, those working with special needs students are usually required to pass a skills-based test. The Illinois Department of Human Services notes that teaching assistants may need to provide proof of a recent physical exam and tuberculosis test. Schools may also specify individual requirements. For example, the Palm Beach School of Autism reports that teaching assistants must be certified in First Aid and CPR.
The BLS expects employment opportunities for teachers' assistants to increase 9 percent between 2012 and 2022, which is about as fast as the average for all occupations. The number of vacancies depends on the area. The BLS reports that opportunities should be better in the South and the West, as those areas are expected to experience a rapid increase in school enrollment. Teachers' assistants applying for urban schools, which have trouble keeping assistants, should also have good prospects.
2016 Salary Information for Teacher Assistants
Teacher assistants earned a median annual salary of $25,410 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, teacher assistants earned a 25th percentile salary of $20,520, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $31,990, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 1,308,100 people were employed in the U.S. as teacher assistants.