Teacher Assistants: Salary, career path, job outlook, education and more

Education Required
Most school districts require applicants to have completed at least 2 years of college coursework or have earned an associate’s degree. Teacher assistants in schools that have a Title 1 program (a federal program for schools with a large proportion of students from low-income households) must have at least a 2-year degree, 2 years of college, or pass a state or local assessment.
Job Outlook
The projected percent change in employment from 2016 to 2026: 8% (As fast as average)
(The average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent.)
Advancement
Teacher assistants may become a kindergarten and elementary school teacher, middle school teacher, high school teacher, or special education teacher upon obtaining additional education, training, and a license/certification.
Median pay: How much do Teacher Assistants make?
$25,410 Annual Salary

Teacher assistants work under a teacher’s supervision to give students additional attention and instruction.

Duties

Teacher assistants typically do the following:

  • Reinforce lessons presented by teachers by reviewing material with students one-on-one or in small groups
  • Enforce school and class rules to teach students proper behavior
  • Help teachers with recordkeeping, such as tracking attendance and calculating grades
  • Set up equipment or get material ready to help teachers prepare for lessons
  • Supervise students in class, between classes, during lunch and recess, and on field trips

Teacher assistants also are called teacher aides, instructional aides, paraprofessionals, education assistants, and paraeducators.

Teacher assistants work with or under the guidance of a licensed teacher. Generally, teachers introduce new material to students while teacher assistants help reinforce the lessons by working with individual students or small groups of students. For example, after the teacher presents a lesson, a teacher assistant may help a small group of students as they try to master the material.

Teachers may seek feedback from teacher assistants to monitor students’ progress. Some teachers and teacher assistants meet regularly to discuss lesson plans and students’ development. Teacher assistants sometimes help teachers by grading tests and checking homework.

Some teacher assistants work only with special education students. In some cases, these special education students attend regular classes, and teacher assistants help them understand the material and adapt the information to their learning style. Teacher assistants may work with students who have more severe disabilities in separate classrooms. They help these students with basic needs, such as eating or personal hygiene. With young adults, they may help students with disabilities learn skills necessary for them to find a job or live independently after graduation.

Some teacher assistants work in specific school locations. For example, some work in computer laboratories, teaching students how to use computers and helping them use software. Others work as recess or lunchroom attendants, supervising students during these times.

Although most teacher assistants work in schools, others work in childcare centers. Often, one or two assistants work with a lead teacher to provide the individual attention that young children need. They help with educational activities, supervise the children at play, and help with feeding and other basic care.

Careers for Teacher Assistants

  • Basic skills improvement program instructional aides
  • Classroom aides
  • Educational assistant teachers
  • Gifted and talented student education aides
  • Instructional aides
  • Instructional assistants
  • Learning support aides
  • Paraeducators
  • Public health training assistants
  • Reading aides
  • Special education aides
  • Special education classroom aides
  • Special education instructional assistants
  • Special education paraeducators
  • Special education paraprofessionals
  • Special education teaching assistants
  • Teacher aides

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