Teacher assistants, sometimes called teacher aides or instructional aides, provide instruction and other types of support for teachers in the classroom. This allows teachers to have more time to invest in lesson planning, teaching and differentiating instruction for their students. Teacher assistants also can be trained to work with students who have special needs by moving from classroom to classroom with them during the day. They assist these students in completing daily tasks and accommodate their various needs so that they can succeed.
Teacher Assistant Schools
An associate degree prepares you to work with students in a school setting, and is specifically needed to work in a school that is Title I (meaning that school has a significant portion of students from low-income families.). While a two-year degree may not always be necessary to find work as a teacher assistant, a bachelor's degree is needed to be able to seek credentialing as a teacher. Teacher assistant training programs are available across the country, including at:
- Hudson Valley Community College: Located in Troy, N.Y., this community college offers a teaching assistant certificate that can be completed entirely online. The certificate program comprises six courses in all, which generally can be transferred to many four-year school and colleges in the state.
- Tarrant County College: The teacher assistant program based out of this Fort Worth, Texas community college can be finished in 32 weeks and results in a certificate of completion. Some classes also may be available online. Also, there is a two-year associate teaching degree that can later be used to transfer to a four-year college to work toward teacher credentialing.
- Community College of Rhode Island: This Warwick, R.I., community college offers a teacher assistant training program to help graduates become a substitute teaching assistant, either full- or part-time. Students must do three hours of job shadowing and are granted a certificate upon completion. The state of Rhode Island has minimum requirements that districts need to follow when hiring teacher assistants (TAs).
- Richland Community College: An associate of applied science degree is available through this Decatur, Ill. school. You also can work on an associate of arts degree in a variety of teaching fields and later transfer your credits to area four-year schools.
- San Diego City College: This college in San Diego offers a certificate of performance in teacher assistance that is comprised of four courses including one course in curriculum. The school also offers a variety of other certificates of performance, including in infant/toddler care and child development.
Teacher Assistant Courses
Students enrolled in teacher assistant schools typically learn about child development, classroom management, and foundations of education. Hands-on experiences additionally may be part of their learning. Also, their credits may be transferable to four-year schools since some students will be interested in working on a bachelor's degree to become a teacher.
A two-year education or associate degree is typically needed to enter the teacher assistant field, although a high school diploma may be acceptable in some school districts. In a teaching assistant program, students learn how to:
- Prepare and develop educational materials
- Find needed resources
- Observe students for progress
- Use different technologies in the classroom
- Understand their role and that of teachers
- Help students succeed
Teacher Assistant Certification and Licensing
Certification is generally not needed to work as a teacher assistant, although some states may require individuals to pass a state test to be able to work with special-needs individuals. TAs also can work on the WorkKeys Professional Certificate for Teacher Assistants, offered by ACT, Inc., to enable them to be employed in Title I schools and to demonstrate their competency in reading, writing and math.
A license is also not a requirement for teacher assistants, although individuals who do want to pursue a teaching career, which requires a bachelor's degree, will need to seek licensure through their state board of education.
Resources for Teacher Assistants
- American Federation of Teachers
- National Education Association
- National Resource Center for Paraprofessionals
- Teaching Assistants' Association
- Proficiency Certificate for Teacher Assistants, ACT, Inc., no date. http://www.act.org/workkeys/pcta/
- Teacher Assistants, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, Jan. 8, 2014. http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes259041.htm
- Teacher Assistants, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, May 2014. http://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/teacher-assistants.htm
- Teaching Assistant (Certificate). Hudson Valley Community College. https://www.hvcc.edu/las/tcc/online.html
- Teacher Assistant, Tarrant County College. https://www.tccd.edu/Student_Services/Financial_Aid/Gainful_Employment_Disclosures/Teacher_Assistant.html
- Teacher Assistant Training Program, Community College of Rhode Island. https://www.ccri.edu/cwce/career/teacherassistant.html
- Teacher Education Programs, Richland Community College. http://www.richland.edu/programs/ed
- Certificate of Performance: Assistant Teacher, San Diego City College. https://www.sdcity.edu/AcademicPrograms/ProgramsofInstruction/ChildDevelopment/DegreeRequirements