What Is a Certified Teacher's Aide?

Explore the career requirements for a certified teacher's aide. Get the facts about education and licensure requirement, salary and potential job growth to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Teaching & Learning degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Certified Teacher's Aide?

Teacher's aides, also known as teacher's assistants, support the work of classroom teachers. They work one-on-one with students to help them better understand the day's lesson. Some also work specifically with students who have special needs to promote their academic success. In addition to instruction, teacher's aides may assist with the planning and execution of special activities, like field trips. They may also help the teacher grade papers and make sure that all necessary school supplies are available.

See the table below for more information about the job of a teacher's aide:

Degree RequiredH.S. diploma or G.E.D. at minimum; associate's or bachelor's degree recommended
Education Field of StudyEducation
Child Development
Other Requirements On-the-job training
Pass a criminal background check
Key ResponsibilitiesAssist in preparing and executing classroom activities and handouts
Supervise student activities on playground, in cafeteria and hallways, and other locations as requested
Assist teachers in recording grades and attendance
Handle student behavioral and safety issues
CertificationRequired by some states
Job Growth (2014-2024)6%*
Mean Salary (2015)$26,550*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Will I Do as a Teacher's Aide?

A teacher's aide acts as direct support for a primary classroom teacher. You may work with one teacher or support multiple teachers within a school. Some teacher's aides specialize in a particular subject, such as history or mathematics. Others work exclusively with special needs students.

What Education Do I Need?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), you typically won't need a college degree to work as a teaching assistant; a high school diploma and on-the-job training are often the only requirements (www.bls.gov). On-the-job training may involve learning about school procedures, grading guidelines, instructional methods and school equipment. However, the BLS notes that earning an associate or bachelor's degree in education or child development may lead to an increase in job opportunities.

Additional requirements may include experience working with children and successful completion of a criminal background check. Some schools prefer aides who are bilingual, especially in areas where a high number of students don't speak English as their primary language.

Do I Need to Be Certified?

Some states may require certification. For example, the New York State Education Department requires certification as a teaching assistant (schools.nyc.gov). To earn certification, you must pass either the New York State Assessment of Teaching Assistant Skills test or the Liberal Arts and Sciences Test. You'll also need to complete workshops in child abuse identification and violence prevention.

What Is the Job Outlook?

The BLS notes that the number of employed teaching assistants was expected to grow by 6% between 2014 and 2024, a figure that is as fast as the average. Job growth in this field was reportedly due in part to an increase in school enrollment of special needs students. Teaching assistants earned a mean annual salary of $26,550 in 2015, as reported by the BLS.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

If you want a job working with kids, you could also consider becoming a childcare worker. In this job, you would provide basic care for children when parents are unavailable, which can include bathing, meal preparation and homework help, depending on the child's age and needs. A high school education is usually the minimum academic requirement for this job. As an alternative to a school special needs aide, you could also consider becoming an aide to an occupational therapist, where you would perform administrative tasks and prepare equipment in the office of a clinic where patients with disabilities learn exercises and strategies for independent living. Occupational therapy aides need to have a high school diploma.

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