How Can I Become a Preschool Teacher's Assistant?

Explore the career requirements for preschool teaching assistants. Get the facts about degree requirements, job growth, and pay to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Early Childhood Education degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does a Preschool Teacher's Assistant Do?

Preschool teacher assistants assist preschool teachers in many ways by promoting social, physical, and intellectual growth in children through a variety of activities. They may work in a school, day care center, or other child development facility. An assistant may help tutor children, supervise activities, and do some administrative work like keeping student records and taking attendance. The chart below has some information about career duties, education requirements, and job growth to determine if this is the right career for you.

Preschool Teachers Teacher Assistants
Degree Required Associate's or bachelor's degree (requirements vary by state) High school diploma or associate's degree
Education Field of Study Early childhood education Early childhood education
Training or Certification Some states or school districts require you to pass an exam for certification Some states require at least two years of college
Key Responsibilities Teach writing and reading to young children, encourage learning through play, and help prepare children for kindergarten Provide tutoring, monitor student activities, and engage in clerical duties like taking attendance and maintaining student records
Job Growth (2014-2024) 7%* 6%*
Median Annual Wage (2015) $28,570* $24,900*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Education Is Required to Become a Preschool Teacher's Assistant?

You might be able to secure a position as a preschool teacher's assistant with a high school diploma or its equivalent, though the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) noted that job prospects could be more favorable if you have some formal, postsecondary training. Additionally, Title I schools, defined as those that have high populations of low-income students, require you to have at least two years of relevant college education to work as a teacher's assistant.

Both associate's degree programs and undergraduate certificate programs in teacher assisting exist at many community colleges or vocational schools. Some of these programs allow you to specialize in early childhood education or child development, which could be beneficial preparation for working with preschool-aged students. Courses could cover the following topics:

  • Child psychology
  • Early childhood education
  • Techniques of child care
  • Cultural difference in children
  • Supervision of child care
  • Arts for young children

What Other Training Is Required?

You might also improve you employment opportunities by familiarizing yourself with the operational, pedagogical and administrative protocols of the school district in which you wish to work. Employers might prefer applicants who demonstrate patience and good writing skills, speak a common second language or have experience working with children. Exact requirements are governed by states and local school districts, some of which may require you to pass an exam to get a state-issued paraprofessional certification before you can work as a teacher's assistant.

What Would I Do?

As a teacher's assistant, you'll support teachers in both a pedagogical and administrative capacity. You could help teach students, supervise or tutor small groups of students, plan your own lessons or support your teacher's lessons. On the administrative side, you might help evaluate student work, take attendance and maintain student records. Other responsibilities could include supervising students at recess, in the lunchroom or on field trips. Finally, you could be in charge of incorporating classroom materials or new technology.

What Is the Job Market Like?

The BLS reported that the employment for teacher assistants is expected to increase 6% between 2014 and 2024. Employment increases for teacher assistants were expected to be largely affected in areas of the country that experienced heightened growth in general population and student enrollment. The median annual salary for teacher assistants working at day care centers was $28,380 as of May 2015, according to BLS data. According to, the median pay rate for preschool teaching assistants is $10 an hour.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Many preschool teacher assistants on all levels go onto become head teachers, but this often requires additional education and certification. For example, public school teachers typically need at least a bachelor's degree. You might consider becoming a librarian as well, though you'll likely need to earn a master's degree in order to qualify for a job. Librarians organize a school's books and related media, and they show students how to find the research materials they need. If you enjoy being around children but don't want to work under another teacher, you might consider becoming a childcare worker. These professionals supervise games and activities with children, and they may also feed them as well. Little more than a high school diploma or its equivalent is necessary for childcare workers.

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