Becoming a Teaching Assistant: Information and Advice
As classroom sizes become larger, schools incorporate more special-needs students into regular classrooms, and the population of English language learners increases, the need for teaching assistants (who are also call teacher's aides, paraprofessionals, or paraeducators) is also increasing. If you've ever thought about a career in education, you want a job that allows you to help people, or you are interested in working with children, consider looking into teaching assistant jobs.
Teaching Assistant: The Job Description
Teaching assistants do just what their title suggests: they come alongside teachers in a classroom to help students learn as best as possible. Whether this means helping or tutoring individual students, grading papers or exams, providing instruction, or assisting with developing lesson plans, teaching assistants contribute to a productive classroom environment and aide with administrative tasks. Many teaching assistant jobs are for a specific task, such as helping special-needs students or those who are learning English.
Most teaching assistants work part-time, and get the same school breaks and holidays that teachers enjoy. According the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for full-time teaching assistants is $23,560. Job prospects are growing as fast as the average, but employment opportunities will be best for those with some postsecondary education, especially as more and more school districts are requiring that their teaching assistants earn a certification or associate's degree. In fact, if you are interested in working in Title 1 schools, with low-income students, two years of college may likely be a requirement.
Is a Teaching Assistant Job Right for Me?
Probably the most important thing to consider about becoming a teaching assistant is whether or not you enjoy working with children or teenagers. If you love kids and are passionate about helping them achieve their best, you would probably enjoy working as a teaching assistant. If you prefer working with teenagers and are interested in a particular subject area, you would probably do better as a secondary teaching assistant. If you know a teacher, ask him or her if you can volunteer in the classroom. This should give you a good idea of whether you enjoy working with teachers and students.
Becoming a Teaching Assistant
Check and see what what your school district's needs and your state's requirements are for becoming a teaching assistant. To get the right training, consider taking teaching assistant courses either online or through a local college or university. Most teaching assistant education programs typically include courses such as basic English and math for educators, child and adolescent psychology, and a general education course. Depending on the school district, you may likely need to fill out an application, be fingerprinted, pass a background check, and possibly go through district training.
While the field is growing as fast as the average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job opportunities in the future will be best for those who have experience working with special education students, speak a language besides English, or who have at least two years of college education, so the job prospects may depend on your interests and specialization.