How to Become a Teaching Assistant

Teaching Assistant Key Stats
Avg. Salary / year $23,060
Education 1-2 Years
Job Outlook 4%

Teaching Assistants play a vital role in the classroom providing support to teachers and students.

These professionals will provide support and additional attention to students needing extra encouragement and time.

They will also assist teachers by providing some classroom management support and reinforcing lessons created by teachers.

Individuals who want to become a Teaching Assistant will need a combination of experience, training and personal characteristics to enter this profession.

Some helpful skills to have when seeking a job in this profession include: patience to work with students who are behind, communication skills to provide in depth instructions to students and interpersonal skills to be able to work with a variety of professionals in education including teachers, students, parents and administrative professionals.

Education Requirements to Become a Teaching Assistant

Individuals who want to become a Teaching Assistant will need a combination of skills, experience and educational requirements in order to enter this profession.

Educational requirements will vary by school district but as a whole, individuals can expect to complete a high school diploma or an associate’s degree.

Individuals who have experience working with students will also have better job opportunities.

Exact educational requirements to become a Teaching Assistant will vary by school district.

Typically, a minimum of a high school diploma is sufficient to enter this profession.

Teaching Assistants seeking a position in a Title 1 school, which services students from low income households, will need a minimum of an associate’s degree, 2 years of college or pass an assessment test.

Associate programs to become a Teaching Assistant will take approximately two years to complete.

These programs will give students an understanding of a teacher’s role; teach them how to develop educational materials and the importance of observing students to identify those who need extra support.

Teaching Assistants who specialize in working with a specific group of students will need to pass specific assessments in order to qualify for the position.

For example, Teaching Assistants applying for a position to work with special needs students will need to pass an additional skills based assessment.

Teaching Assistants working with monolingual students will need to pass an assessment that identifies them as bilingual.

Teaching Assistant Job Description

Teaching Assistants work closely with Teachers in order to provide support to students in the classroom.

They provide support to both Teachers by assisting students needing additional help and to students themselves providing additional instruction and attention.

The following are some common tasks performed by a Teaching Assistant:

  • Provide support for lessons presented by teachers
  • Review lessons to students one on one or in small groups
  • Provide some classroom management by enforcing classroom and school rules
  • Assist teachers with tracking attendance
  • Assist teachers in preparing for lessons

Teaching Assistants will review material that has been presented by the Teacher and convey it to students so that they understand lessons, classwork and tests.

This may include reading the instructions again until the student understands the material or answer any questions that students may have about a lesson or assignment.

Teaching Assistant Salary and Career Path

In 2012, the median wage for Teaching Assistants was approximately $23,640 per year with the highest earners making up towards $36,680 per year.

Exact wages will depend on a variety of factors including geographical location, level of education and whether an individual works yearlong or has summers off.

Individuals may work yearlong or have unpaid summers off depending on the school district or school an individual works for.

The job outlook for Teaching Assistants is expected to grow as fast as average when compared to other professions.

Teaching Assistant opportunities are projected to grow by 9 percent through the year 2022.

This job growth is attributed to the increase in student enrollments at public schools; the hiring of teaching assistants is directly related to student enrollment.

Teaching Assistants are educational professionals who are experienced in supporting teachers and students in the classroom.

Individuals pursuing this career will have a strong passion working with children.

Some perks for this profession, depending on the school district or school, include having summers off and the possibility for advancement to become a teacher.

BLSThe below information is based on the 2021 BLS national averages.

  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

National Average Salary


Average Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
District of Columbia$37,970
New Hampshire$33,730
New Jersey$33,420
New Mexico$25,820
New York$34,450
North Carolina$25,440
North Dakota$34,390
Rhode Island$34,750
South Carolina$25,930
South Dakota$27,810
West Virginia$26,940
Puerto Rico$19,940
Virgin Islands$34,310

The top earning state in the field is Washington, where the average salary is $42,130.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

Washington - $42,130
California - $39,610
Massachusetts - $39,090
District of Columbia - $37,970
Connecticut - $37,180
* Salary information based on the May 2021 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Teaching Assistants, Except Postsecondary, OCC Code 25-9045, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does a teaching assistant do?

A teaching assistant can also be called an ‘educational assistant’ or a ‘teacher’s aide’.

It is a teaching-related position within a school and the professional works only under a teacher’s supervision.

The typical responsibilities of a teaching assistant usually include assisting teachers in the classroom; providing administrative support for teaching; helping teachers with record-keeping and homework checking; supervising students outside of the classroom (while eating, playing outside or on field trips, etc.), and so on.

Some teaching assistants might help students understand and complete various assignments, while others may be working exclusively with the students that have special educational needs.

There are teaching assistants that work in specific locations (like in computer laboratories, for example).

The role of these professionals in the system is constantly evolving, as well as their duties and responsibilities.

How much do teaching assistants make?

On average, a teaching assistant can make a little less than $24.000 per year in the United States.

In case you decide to follow this career path, you can expect to earn anywhere between $16.000 and $34.000 annually.

The salary would certainly depend on a variety of factors – your education and experience level, the facility you work for, the location and so on.

Teaching assistants that work in Alaska, Massachusetts, and California, for example, have the highest average salaries.

An entry-level teaching assistant can earn around $8 per hour, while a top-level specialist with plenty of experience can make $17 and more per hour.

How much does it cost to become a teaching assistant?

The minimal educational requirement for an aspiring teaching assistant is a high school diploma; however, some employers might require you to have an associate’s degree or at least two years of college.

It will cost you anywhere between $8.000 and $45.000 (and more) per year to become an Associate of Applied Science in Paraprofessional Education; the cost depends on a variety of factors (the books, supplies, and accommodation expenses are not included).

You might also be required to pursue education paraprofessional certification (over $55).

What is the demand for teaching assistants?

Between 2018 and 2028, the teaching assistant job market is expected to grow by 4%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

That is pretty much the same as the national average for all occupations in the United States.

The growth will certainly be affected by state and federal funding for education programs.

The industry is mainly concentrated in New York, Texas, and California.

How long does it take to become a teaching assistant?

It will take you two years to earn an associate’s degree and become an Associate of Applied Science in Paraprofessional Education.

Getting that on-job experience while you are still in university can be extremely helpful, so seek training in schools or unions.

You can prepare for your teaching assistant (paraprofessional) certification online and choose your pace (for example, 2 weeks of unlimited access to the course materials); the actual test will take you 2.5 hours.

Jamie Willis
Career Specialist at BecomeopediaHi, my name is Jamie Willis, and I have been helping students find their perfect internships and education paths for the last ten years. It is a passion of mine, and there really is nothing better than seeing students of mine succeed with further studies.

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