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Though the job isn't new, the role of teaching assistants continues to evolve with federal education laws like Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) emphasizing the need for 'highly qualified' staff in schools and classrooms. These teachers need to demonstrate that they have the knowledge and ability to assist in reading, writing, and mathematics instruction or readiness.
Teaching assistants need to be patient, fair and open-minded and be comfortable dealing with students one-on-one or in a group. If this sounds like you, an online teacher assistant program can help you get the qualifications you need to be eligible for teaching assistant positions in many different types of educational institutes.
High school graduates or those already working but wish to earn the credentials to become a teaching assistant, can get the flexibility they need to better balance work, family and study by enrolling in an online degree program.
Different Names for Teaching Assistants
Though teaching assistants of the past may have monitored lunchrooms or photocopied classroom materials for teachers, today's education aides play a very important, valued role in students' learning and achievement. They may be known by many names:
- Classroom assistant
- Education paraprofessional
- Special education assistant
- Teacher aide
Teaching assistants may also include tutors, interpreters, job coaches and many more job titles.
What do teaching assistants do?
Some of the duties a teaching assistant may carry out are:
- Enforcing classroom and school rules
- Supervising students in their various activities during class, lunch breaks and field trips
- Helping teachers prepare their lessons and calculate grades
- Reinforcing lessons by working with students individually or in groups
Occupations and Career Outlook
Though the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recognizes that most teaching assistants work in elementary, middle and secondary classrooms, additional opportunities may be found in religious, child care, community and adult rehabilitation centers. The College Board expects teaching assistants to be especially in demand in special education, child care, and preschool programs.
The table below lists the various occupations associated with the field including projected job openings and average wages using data from the BLS.
Projected Job Growth
(2016 - 26)
|Graduate Teaching Assistants||131,490||$36,390||7.7%|
Choose a degree that can help you meet your career goals
According to the BLS, most school districts require teaching assistants to have at least 2 years of college coursework or an associate degree. In addition to these qualifications, schools that receive Title I funds may require teaching assistants to have a formal knowledge and skills requirement assessment which may include a paraeducation apprenticeship program.
Bachelor's and graduate degree programs for teaching assistants aren't generally available; teacher assistants who wish to pursue advanced studies may consider earning a bachelor's degree that results in a teaching license or a graduate degree in education administration.
Online Certificate Programs in Teaching Aide
What can I expect to learn in an online certificate program?
An online teaching assistant or teacher assistant certificate program can equip students to understand the current educational trends in schools and classrooms and to apply this knowledge while helping children learn.
Typical duration: Up to one year of part-time study
General prerequisites: High school diploma or equivalent
Typical coursework: You may have to study general education courses along with topics in education. Courses may include:
- Introduction to the teaching profession
- Child growth and development
- Social foundations of education
- Self-regulation in the classroom
- Math instructional support
Possible electives: Introduction to early childhood education; curriculum and methods in teaching early childhood education; inclusion of children with special needs
What can I do after earning a certificate?
An online teaching assistant certificate program can allow you to work in a number of different educational settings as a paraeducator. Some places you may find employment in include:
- Elementary middle and high schools
- Kindergartens and preschools
- Recreation and community centers
- Before- and after-school programs
- School lunch programs
Online Associate Degrees Programs for Teaching Assistant
What can I expect to learn in an online associate degree program?
An associate degree program in teaching assistance can help you learn to aid teachers, not just in the classroom with students, but in planning lessons and assigning grades.
Typical duration: Up to two years of full-time study
General prerequisites: High school diploma or equivalent
Typical coursework: Curricula usually cover general education courses along with topics in psychology, education technology and behavioral sciences along with educational subjects. Courses may include:
- Educational psychology
- Technology in the classroom
- Classroom management
- Learning theory
- Introduction to instructional design
Possible electives: Autism spectrum disorders; education of exceptional learners; multicultural education
What can I do after earning an associate degree?
After completing your online associate degree program, you may be eligible for employment as:
- Teaching assistant
- Personal tutor
- Child care worker
- Researcher for an educational consultancy
An associate degree may work as a stepping stone toward a bachelor's degree in teaching should you decide to continue your education.
Accreditation requirements vary from state to state. However, the main accrediting body for teaching and education programs online is the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) .
Attending an accredited school can be important to ensure you receive a high quality education that meets the professional standards required of educators today. It can also be a prerequisite for receiving federal funding.
Teaching Assistant Certifications
Certification requirements vary according to individual state rules. Some states require paraeducators to take a paraprofessional assessment examination to receive a Parapro Certificate while others may require you to obtain the Paraeducator Generalist Certification offered by various Area Education Agencies. Students are advised to check with their state licensing board about the state's requirements and choose an online teaching assistant program accordingly.