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Working as a Teacher's Aide

Teacher's aides or assistants play an important role in the classroom. By doing part of the clerical work and instruction, they give teachers more time for lesson planning and teaching.

Duties of Teacher's Aides

Enjoying a variety of tasks, teacher's aides may:

  • Help students learn the class material, often giving them individual attention
  • Supervise the schoolyard, cafeteria, and hallways
  • Accompany classes on school trips
  • Work in computer laboratories, helping students learn to use computers for their schoolwork

In secondary schools, teacher's aides often specialize in a particular subject, tutoring students in that subject. They may also help students apply for jobs or community service projects. Teacher's aides typically work with secondary students one-on-one or in small groups.

Many teacher's aides work exclusively with students with special needs. They attend to the physical needs of students with disabilities and help students with behavioral or emotional problems. They may assist English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL) students learn the language.

Teacher's aides may also work in pre-schools or day care centers. They often work with infants and toddlers who have disabilities.

Requirements for Teacher's Aides

There is no specific training or degree for teacher's aides, although there are degree and certificate programs in related fields. A college degree or coursework in child development increases job opportunities. Many schools look for previous experience working with children.

States and districts vary in the training required to work as a teacher's aide or in other paraprofessional positions. Requirements tend to vary according to whether or not the paraprofessional works with students in an instructional capacity.

The Federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act requires that an instructional paraprofessional meet one of three requirements to be employed in a Title I program. The paraprofessional must either:

  • Obtain an associate's degree or higher
  • Complete two years of coursework at an institution of higher education
  • Meet a rigorous standard of quality and pass a formal state or local academic assessment

Jobs Prospects and Salaries for Teacher's Aides

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects job prospects for teacher's aides to be good in the next few years. Applicants with at least two years of college education, experience working with children with special needs, or fluency in a foreign language will have the best opportunities.

According to the BLS May 2009 data, the average annual salary for Teacher Assistants is $24,280. Positions for Teacher Assistants is expected to experience a 10% growth by 2018, on par with the average for most occupations.

Employment Levels/ Annual Salaries for Teacher Assistants By Industry (May 2009):

Industry Employment Numbers Average Annual Salary
Elementary and Secondary Schools 1,023,190 $24,500
Child Day Care Services 106,330 $20,480
Colleges, Universities and Professional Schools 28,430 $28,840
Individual and Family Services 21,450 $22,560
Junior Colleges 18,200 $28,560
State Government (OES Designation) N/A $27,600
Technical and Trade Schools 2,040 $26,580
Other Schools and Instruction 10,960 $25,870

Top 5 Paying States for Teacher Assistants

  STATE Average Annual Salary
1. Alaska $35,290
2. California $29,840
3. Rhode Island $29,280
4. Washington $28,890
5. Connecticut $28,600

Top 5 Paying Metropolitan Areas for Teacher Assistants

  Metropolitan Area STATE Average Annual Salary
1. State College PA $36,750
2. San Francisco- San Mateo- Redwood City CA $33,770
3. Santa Ana- Anaheim- Irvine CA $33,150
4. Bethesda- Frederick- Gaithersburg MD $32,990
5. San Jose, Sunnyvale- Santa Clara CA $32,680

Pros and Cons of Working as a Teacher's Aide

Teacher's aides work school hours and have vacations off, which are definite pluses for people with families or other responsibilities. For aides who enjoying helping young people learn and grow, this can be an extremely rewarding job.

However it can also be physically and emotionally demanding, especially for aides who work with students with disabilities. These aides are often charged with the daily physical care of such students, which may include lifting and carrying.


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