Teacher’s Aide Degree Programs
A teacher’s aide degree prepares graduates to play a key support role in the classroom. A teacher’s aide (also known as an educational assistant, paraprofessional, para-pro, instructional assistant, or teacher’s assistant) assists one or more classroom instructors in day-to-day tasks such as maintaining order and discipline, helping students with assignments, organizing the classroom, taking attendance, and administering exams. Associate degrees that can prepare you for this career are available from traditional, brick-and-mortar schools and universities as well as through online teacher’s aide programs. Learn more about how to become a teaching assistant on our career guide.
Teacher’s Aide Degrees and Certification
Nearly all teacher’s aide degrees are found at the certificate and associate level; according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), there are 20 teacher’s aide certificates available in US schools and 27 associate’s degrees. A teacher’s or instructional aide certificate may include between 12 and 25 credit hours and usually takes around one year to complete, depending on the school. An associate degree is earned after completing around 60 credit hours of qualified classwork. In general, this takes about two years to earn for most full-time students and three to four years for most part-time students.
After earning a certificate or associate degree, graduates may pursue such jobs as teacher’s aide, classroom assistant, or school library assistant. Those with paraprofessional degree or certificate may find jobs in public schools, private schools, daycare centers, nurseries, before-school programs, after-school programs, or child-centered businesses. Most accredited Associate of Science (AS), Associate of Applied Science (AAS), Associate of Arts (AA), and Associate of Applied Arts (AAA) degrees may also be used as a stepping stone towards earning a bachelor’s degree in general education or other education degrees, with at least some of the 60 credit hours being applied towards the next degree level. Even in schools that require a certificate or associate degree as a minimum requirement, teacher’s aides who have earned a bachelor’s degree can often command higher salaries than those with an associate degree or certificate.
Best Value Teacher’s Aide Schools with On-Campus Programs
The table below represents the best value non-profit colleges and universities offering teacher’s aide programs in the US. The schools that made our list have a high undergraduate graduation rate (of 45% or above) and a low net price (below $10,000 per year). In addition to graduation rate and net price, we have also included applicable degrees offered and have noted the programs that offer a hybrid or online format.
|School||Degrees/Programs||Grad Rate1||Net Price1|
|Frontier Community College||Certificate Paraprofessional Educator;|
AAS Paraprofessional Educator
|Georgia Piedmont Technical College||Diploma Early Childhood Care and Education;|
AAS Early Childhood Care and Education
|Bates Technical College||AAS Early Childhood Education||48%||$4,278|
|Eastern Florida State College||College Credit Certificate Educational Assisting (hybrid);|
AS Early Childhood Education (hybrid);
AS Educational Technology Assistant
|Chippewa Valley Technical College||Associate’s Foundations of Teacher Education (hybrid)||46%||$9,307|
|Ogeechee Technical College||Diploma Early Childhood Care and Education (hybrid);|
AAS Early Childhood Care and Education (hybrid)
|North Central Missouri College||AAS Early Childhood Development (online)||45%||$8,131|
See Table Notes and References at bottom of page.
Profiles of Traditional Teacher’s Aide Education Programs
At Georgia Piedmont Technical College, two options are offered for prospective teacher’s assistants: a Diploma and an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Early Childhood Care and Education. The AAS degree is made up of 72 total credit hours, with a specialization available in Paraprofessional. Six specialization credit hours can be taken in this area, including Paraprofessional Methods and Materials; and Paraprofessional Roles and Practices. The Diploma in Early Childhood Care and Education includes 53 total credit hours and also offers paraprofessional coursework as electives. Additional related programs are offered including Technical Certificates in School Age Youth and Child Care; Infant/Toddler Child Care Specialist; Early Childhood Care and Education Basics; and Child Development Specialist.
Lansing Community College in Michigan offers an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree and a Certificate of Completion (CC) in Teacher Paraprofessional. Paraprofessional AAS students can choose between one of three specialties: Early Childhood (children 0-5 years old), Elementary Education (ages 6-12), or Special Education (ages 3 to young adult with disabilities). Required courses for all specialties include Child Self-Esteem, Educational Psychology, Reading in Elementary School, Intro to Special Education, Teacher Education Practicum, and Children’s Literature. In addition, General Education Core Areas include Communication, Global Perspectives, Mathematics, Science, and Writing. The remainder of the courses will be 15-17 credits in the student’s specialization area and 19 credits of related courses (electives). The AAS degree comprises 60-61 credit hours, while the CC comprises 19-22 credit hours.
Moraine Park Technical College offers an Early Childhood Preschool Credential Certificate that comprises 18 credits taken in six courses of three credits each, including ECE: Early Language and Literacy; ECE: Social Studies, Art, Music and Movement; ECE: Health, Safety and Nutrition; ECE: Child Development; ECE: Guiding Children’s Behavior; and ECE: Preschool Practicum. Graduates of the credential certificate program will be prepared to work with children between the ages of three and eight, in roles such as child care provider, nursery school teacher, certified provider, children’s aide, and nanny. MPTC also offers a technical diploma in Child Care Services and an Infant/Toddler Credential Certificate.
Northland College, with campuses throughout the Grand Forks area in Minnesota, offers an Associate of Science (AS) in Early Childhood & Paraprofessional. Students admitted to the program learn how to work with children at all developmental stages, including special education, from birth to adolescence. Courses in the program include Observing Assessing; Foundations of Literacy; American Minorities; and Paraprofessional Role. Graduates are prepared to work as instructors in early childhood child care programs, as family care child providers, and as assistant teachers in early childhood and elementary settings. In order to work in licensed child care settings in Minnesota, graduates must take a work experience/internship course as part of the program.
Profiles of Hybrid and Online Teacher’s Aide Education Programs
Century College offers a hybrid Certificate in Paraeducation that is made up of daytime, evening, and online coursework and designed to be completed in one year. The certificate requires 17 credit hours to complete. A ParaPro Assessment is highly recommended for students to become “highly qualified” under federal law, and students in the Certificate program can continue on to Century’s 60-credit Associate of Science (AS) in Education degree, which is another way they can meet the “highly qualified” paraprofessional requirements. Coursework in the Paraeducation Certificate program provides a core of education courses including Orientation to Education, Creating Culturally Responsive Classrooms, and Introduction to Learners with Exceptionalities; while the AS in Education degree includes these, some general education courses, and career/occupational electives such as Literacy Education Strategies and Foundations of Learning and Human Development of Diverse Learners. Both programs include a practicum/field experience component for students to gain hands-on experience: the Certificate program requires 30 hours and the AS degree requires 40 hours.
Eastern Florida State College offers several options for prospective paraprofessionals, all of which can be taken in a hybrid format: a College Credit Certificate Program in Educational Assisting; an Associate of Science (AS) in Educational Technology Assistant; and an Associate of Science (AS) in Early Childhood Education. The College Credit Certificate comprises 15 credit hours which are also part of the Educational Technology Assistant AS degree. Coursework includes introductory courses like Effective Classroom Management and Child and Adolescent Development for Educators. For those who wish to pursue the AS in Educational Technology Assistant, an additional 45 credit hours are needed, for a total of 60 credit hours. AS students take 15 credits of general education courses, additional credits in the major, and 12 technical elective credits to finish off their degree. Both programs include field experience, giving graduates plenty of real-world experience.
Teacher’s Aide Degree Requirements and Coursework
Most teacher’s aide associate degree programs require students to take general education classes such as liberal arts, math, English composition, and a basic science class, among others. In the second year of most associate’s teacher’s aide programs, students will take core classes that specifically address education, including courses such as Classroom Management, Leadership in Education, and Theory of Education. Certificate programs and diplomas will not usually require general education courses. Most students in either program type must typically complete some fieldwork in a classroom setting to prepare them for the real-world demands of the job. It’s important to note that there are also some teacher’s aide programs that are offered in a hybrid format (with some online coursework and some in-person requirements) with greater flexibility for busy students.
Typical classes in a teacher’s aide degree program may include (ordered roughly from least to most advanced):
- Introduction to the Teaching Profession
- Foundational Studies in Early Childhood Education
- Families, Communities & Schools
- Technology in Education
- Classroom Management
- Curriculum: Primary and Middle Grades
- Teaching in a Diverse Society
- Mathematics: Primary and Middle Grades Laboratory
- Psychology & Education of Exceptional Children
- Student Teaching I: Upper Grades
Teaching and Education Programs
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: Do you need a degree to be a teacher’s aide?
Answer: It depends. Not all schools require teacher’s aides to have a degree, but usually applicants with at least some college coursework are preferred. Pursuing a teacher’s aide certificate or associate’s degree will make you a more competitive candidate for para-pro jobs. Additionally, you must have an associate’s degree to qualify as a paraprofessional in public schools that receive Title I funding.
Question: Can I get a teacher’s aide degree online?
Answer: Yes, many schools offer hybrid online educational assistant degrees. If you choose an online program, be sure to choose one that has been accredited and that utilizes the same faculty as the on-campus program, to ensure you are receiving a quality education.
Question: What type of teacher’s aide degree should I get?
Answer: Teacher’s aide degrees can be pursued at the certificate, associate, and (rarely) baccalaureate levels. Since a teacher’s aide associate degree can be used as a stepping stone for a more advanced education degree down the road, it is often a good place to start.
Table Notes and References:
1. National Center for Education Statistics: https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/