If you want to work with children in a classroom setting but don’t want to become their main teacher, you can opt for a career as a teacher assistant. In this profession, you will be working with one or small groups of students to review them on the lessons the lead teacher has presented. You will help them master the lesson and reinforce what they know with examples and activities. Just like a teacher, you will be implementing rules so that students will observe proper behavior and decorum in class. You will also be working closely with the teacher by giving feedback about the progress of a particular student. You could also be asked to keep a record of the student’s attendance, compute student’s grades and readies the materials and equipment for the lesson. You will also help the teacher monitor students in the classroom, school and outside of it, such as during field trips and other school-sanctioned external activities.
While teacher assistants are generally assigned to work in the classroom, some may also work in the school’s other areas. If you are a computer teacher assistant, you can be sent to help manage the computer laboratory and be asked to teach students during computer classes. You may also be asked to work as a lunchroom attendant and supervise students while they are eating.
To succeed in this career, you will need to really love working with children since most of the work opportunities will be done at the basic education level. You also need to be patient especially if you are reviewing the lesson to a student with learning difficulties. Being creative and resourceful are also traits that you need to develop if you want students to really understand the lesson. Having good interpersonal communications skills is also important since you will be talking with parents and guardians and updating them on the performance of their children in school as well as collaborating with other teachers.
Why Become A Teacher Assistant
Any teaching job is a vocation. The pay is not really lucrative so it’s not the motivation to pursue this career. However, teacher assistants do what they do because they love to teach and guide students as they grow. They find inspiration in being able to touch lives. Teaching assistants who work with special students find fulfillment in helping these children know how to care for themselves despite their disabilities. For others, a career as a teacher assistant is one way to get a highly-respectable job in the education sector even with just a couple of years of college education.
Teacher Assistant Work Environment
Teacher assistants are employed in the elementary, middle and high schools of both public and private schools. They may also work with younger children in preschools and childcare centers. Some work for religious organizations. Their work is typically done in the classroom but they may be asked to supervise children during lunch or recess, play periods or when they are getting on or off the school bus. If they work with special education students, the job may include assisting and lifting these learners. Their work schedule is generally fulltime but based on the data of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 4 in 10 teacher assistants doing part-time work in 2012. They normally don’t work in the summer but there are schools that let them work the entire year, assisting lead teachers during summer classes. It is not unusual for a class to have one or two teacher assistants to help a lead teacher.
The Occupational Employment and Wages report of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that on May 2013, the mean annual wage of teacher assistants was $25,570. This is the lowest paid among the careers under the occupational category of “Other education, training, and library occupations.” Just to compare the salary data with the teachers that teacher assistants typically work with, consider these figures: Preschool, primary, secondary and special education teachers received a mean annual wage of $54,740; elementary and middle school teachers got $56,420 and secondary school teachers were paid $58,170 in May 2013. However, teachers need to finish a four-year bachelor’s degree (and even higher) and then obtain certification as compared to the very short educational requirements for teacher assistants, justifying the higher pay they receive.
Teacher Assistant Career Outlook
The job outlook of teacher assistants is good for 2012 to 2022. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected that for this time period, the employment rate of teacher assistants is going to rise 9 percent, a rate that is as fast as the average for all job types. Thus, from the 1,223,400 teacher assistants employed in 2012, the number is expected to grow to 1,328,500 in 2022.
The demand will come from the increase in student enrollment in both public and private schools. The continued need for special education services, childcare services and preschool programs will also contribute to the demand for teacher assistants. The job prospects are good in the Southern and Western regions of the US as the enrollment in these places are expected to rise. Another demand will also come from the fact that there will be numerous teacher assistants who will be leaving the profession which will also create new openings for new teacher assistants.
Teacher Assistant Degree
An associate’s degree or at least two years of college experience are the educational requirements for becoming a teacher assistant. However, there are some districts that accept those who only hold a high school diploma or its equivalent. Nevertheless, a high school diploma is usually insufficient for those who want to work in schools with Title 1 programs. A Title 1 program refers to a federal program for schools whose students come mostly from households with low income. Aspiring teacher assistants who are enrolled in an associate degree programs are taught how to develop educational materials and observe students, among others. They are also taught the roles of teachers and teaching assistants in the classroom in these programs.