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How to Become a Teaching Assistant in New York State

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Teaching assistants certified by New York State can provide direct instruction to students under the supervision of a fully licensed teacher. Because teaching assistants are considered part of a school's teaching staff, they must undergo a more rigorous certification process and background check than teaching aides. This article details how to obtain a Level I certificate, which is the bare minimum you need to get a job as a teaching assistant in New York State.

Obtain a high-school diploma or GED. This is required of all Level I teaching assistants.

Register for the Assessment of Teaching Assistant Skills (ATAS). You must pass this test in order to apply for certification. The test assesses your basic knowledge in the areas of reading, writing, math and instructional support. The ATAS consists of 100 multiple-choice questions, and it can be taken on paper or on a computer. You can register for either version of the test online at the New York State Teacher Certification Examinations (NYSTCE) website.

Once you've taken and passed the ATAS, sign up for two workshops: Child Abuse and Violence Prevention. Most Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) centers offer these workshops. Each workshop is about two hours long.

Get fingerprinted. Again, most BOCES centers can provide this service, or you can contact a local police station.

To apply for certification, gather your proof of education (high-school transcripts or GED), ATAS test score, documentation that you've completed the workshops, and fingerprinting receipt. Start the application process online by creating a TEACH System account through the New York State Office of Teaching Initiative's website; at the end of this process you'll be instructed to mail your supporting documents to the OTI's headquarters in Albany.

You will not receive a printed certificate for Level I, but you can track the status of your application through your TEACH System account.

Once your certification comes through you can start applying for a teaching assistant positions in your area or in the school district of your choice.


Keep copies of everything you send.


There are higher fees if you register last-minute for the ATAS. It may take a few months to get a response from OTI confirming your certification.