A preschool teacher aide, also called a preschool teacher assistant, assists preschool teachers with a variety of tasks to facilitate meaningful learning experiences in the classroom. She supports the teacher and helps children with learning activities and provides personal attention to those who need it. She helps with lesson plans, preparing classroom materials and completing administrative tasks. There are a variety of necessary requirements to become a preschool teacher aide.
The specific educational requirements differ depending on the state and school district. Some states and districts only require at least a high school diploma or GED, and others require some college education. Many employers prefer individuals who have completed college training such as an associate’s degree program. Many preschool teacher aides complete certificates or associate’s degrees in child development, early childhood education or closely related field. Preschool teacher aides who work in schools that are categorized as Title 1 institutions must have at least an associate’s degree or at least two years of college training.
Certificate or associate’s degree programs for preschool teacher aides generally consist of classroom instruction and hands-on teaching experiences. Students learn how to successfully assist preschool teachers in early childhood settings. Coursework varies among programs, but often includes child development, childhood behavior, classroom management and educational psychology.
All employers provide some type of on-the-job training to new preschool teacher aides. A preschool teacher aide must gain familiarity with the classroom and educational facility, as well as the rules and regulations. He must learn the variety of teaching methods as well as the different learning styles. He must also understand how to operate classroom equipment and keep class records.
Some states require preschool teacher aides to become certified and complete an approved program. To become certified, preschool teacher aides typically have to receive a satisfactory score on a written competency examination. Certified preschool teacher aides usually are required to complete continuing education classes to maintain their certifications.
Most employers require preschool teacher aides to have a current driver’s license and some prior experience working with young children. Prospective preschool teacher aides are often required to pass a criminal background check. A preschool teacher aide must have a genuine passion for working with young children from a variety of cultural backgrounds. She must be patient and have good problem-solving skills to be able to successfully handle a variety of classroom situations. She must also have effective communication and be able to relate to children as well as parents, teachers and other staff members.
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.