Teacher’s Assistant Career Guide

A teacher’s assistant, also known as a teacher’s aide or paraprofessional, provides clerical and instructional support to the lead classroom teacher. This guide provides information on what teacher’s assistants do, how to become one, and the expected salary and job outlook.

Table of Contents

How to Become
Job Description
Salary & Job Outlook
Additional Resources
Frequently Asked Questions
Related Pages

How to Become a Teacher’s Assistant

The requirements for becoming a teacher’s assistant vary from state to state. An associate’s degree is the typical education required for teacher’s assistants in public PK-12 schools. Due to federal mandate, teacher’s assistants who work in Title I schools must have at least a two-year degree and hold certification as a teacher’s aide or assistant. Some states may require the program to be approved by the state board of education to qualify graduates for licensure or certification. In private or charter schools, teacher’s assistants may only be required to have a high school degree. The typical route to a teacher’s assistant career is as follows:

  1. Earn an associate’s degree in education, assistant teaching, or a related subject like elementary education.
  2. Take any tests required in your state for teacher’s assistant licensure.
  3. Apply for your teacher’s assistant license.
  4. Begin applying to open teacher’s assistant positions.

Many colleges and universities offer associate’s degree programs in assistant teaching, early childhood development, and related areas that can qualify prospective assistant teachers for this career. These programs typically include classroom-based internships. As many states and schools require teaching assistants to have experience with children, this can be helpful preparation for the requirements of this career. Many schools also offer programs that allow you to transfer credits earned during your associate’s program towards a bachelor’s degree in education, which can be helpful if you later decide to pursue a career as a lead teacher.

Teacher’s Assistant Job Description

A teacher’s assistant reports to a lead teacher and is responsible for helping the lead teacher run classes smoothly by taking on common classroom tasks at the lead teacher’s direction. A teacher’s assistant provides instructional support to students by reinforcing the teacher’s lesson plans. If requested, the assistant teacher helps students learn through group sessions or individually with supplemental lessons, such as assisting with math problems. They must have familiarity with state content standards for all areas of education at their grade level(s). Private and public schools, daycare centers, and religious institutions hire teacher assistants. The majority of teacher assistants work on a full-time basis, but some work part-time. Career advancement to other teaching positions is possible. Some school districts offer programs that will reimburse paraprofessional educators for the cost of tuition for a teaching degree in exchange for working for the school district for several years.

Common Tasks

The everyday duties of an assistant teacher include performing clerical duties like taking attendance, grading tests and homework, and other record-keeping and instruction tasks. They help monitor students’ behavior in the classroom, hallways, cafeteria, playground, and on school trips. They also commonly provide additional instructional assistance to students with special needs and students who need extra help in completing classwork.

Helpful Skills and Experience

Teacher’s assistants should possess patience, a willingness to follow instructions and work in a support role, and excellent communication skills. Assistant teachers must have the physical ability to assist with small children and classroom equipment, which may require bending and lifting.

Many schools require that teacher’s assistants be certified in First Aid. Some schools may also ask teacher’s assistants to undergo training in bloodborne pathogens (BBP) and mandated reporting. As many assistant teaching positions require six months to a year of previous experience working with school-aged children and/or special populations, taking advantage of internship programs in high school or college is recommended.

Possible Job Titles for This Career

  • Assistant Teacher
  • Educational Assistant
  • Instructional Assistant/Aide
  • Paraeducator
  • Paraprofessional (Para-pro) Educator/Teacher
  • Teacher’s Aide

Teacher’s Assistant Salary and Job Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), teacher assistants earn a median annual salary of $35,550, and no growth is expected for the profession through 2032.1,2

# Employed1Median Annual Wage190th Percentile Annual Wage1Projected Job
Growth 2022-32X

Additional Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: Do I need certification to become a teacher’s assistant?

Answer: While many jobs require assistant teachers to hold certification, others just require a high school diploma or associate’s degree. Paraprofessional certifications are offered for teaching assistants with the required education in many states. Your state board of education or local teacher preparation program can provide specific information on the requirements for teacher’s assistants in your area.

Question: What career opportunities are available for teacher’s assistants?

Answer: Most (74%) teacher’s assistant positions are in public elementary and secondary schools. About 9% of teacher assistants work in child daycare organizations.2 A further 9% work in private elementary and secondary schools.2 In some areas, especially urban locations, teacher’s assistants are needed to help adult special education classes. Many school districts offer tuition reimbursement for teacher’s assistants interested in pursuing a bachelor’s degree and full teacher certification.

1. Bureau of Labor Statistics May 2023 Occupational Employment and Wages, Teaching Assistants: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes259045.htm
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, Teacher Assistants: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/teacher-assistants.htm