Teacher Assistant Job Description, Salary and Skills

Assistant teacher helping students paint
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Teacher assistants work under the supervision of a lead teacher, providing additional assistance and instruction to students. Read below for information on what teacher assistants do, as well as more specific information about a career as a teacher assistant.

Teacher Assistant Job Description

Teacher assistants typically work one-on-one with students to help them understand and apply principles taught by the classroom teacher.

They often circulate around the classroom while students are completing assignments and assist students who are struggling with their work.

Teacher assistants help to organize classroom materials and set up equipment that teachers will use to carry out lessons. They help to correct homework, tests, and papers.

Teacher assistants supervise students on field trips, during lunch breaks, and prior to the start of school.

Many teacher assistants work closely with special education teachers to assist students with physical, emotional, mental, and learning disabilities. These teaching assistants may be assigned to one or two highly challenged learners and follow them through their day of classes.

Teacher Assistant Work Environment

Teacher assistants work in a variety of environments. They work in public and private schools, as well as childcare centers and even religious organizations that have educational programs.

However, the majority of teacher assistants work for elementary and secondary schools.

Teacher Assistant Schedule

Some teacher assistants work part-time, but most work the full school day. Many teacher assistants have summers off, although some work as teacher assistants in summer school.

Teacher Assistant Education Requirements

Educational requirements for teaching assistants vary from district to district and state to state.

Some districts only require a high school diploma. However, most school districts require that teaching assistants complete at least two years of college, or have an associate’s degree.

There are associate’s degree programs and certificate programs designed specifically for teaching assistants. These programs give students classroom experience.

In some districts, teacher assistants also have to pass a state or local assessment. Teacher assistants working with special-needs students often have to pass a skills-based test as well.

Teacher Assistant Training Requirements

Because most teacher assistants are not required to have a four-year degree, they receive much of their training on the job. This training typically includes learning the procedures of the school, including everything from equipment to record keeping to classroom preparation. Much of this training is often conducted by the lead classroom teacher.

Some teacher assistants can receive additional training through unions or professional organizations.

Teacher Assistant Skill Requirements

You can find a list of skills required of all kinds of teachers here. There are many skills specific to teaching assistants, including being able to take direction, and being able to work with students both individually and in groups.

When applying for a job as a teacher assistant, be sure to read the job description for a list of the specific skills required for that job.

Teacher Assistant Salary

According the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook, the median pay for a teacher assistant  in 2014 was $24,430. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $17,510, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $37,270.

Teacher Assistant Job Outlook

Employment of teacher assistants is expected to grow at a rate of about 6% from 2014 to 2024. This is an average growth rate. This growth is due to an expected rise in student enrollment and an increased demand for special education services.

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