What Is a Teacher Aide?

Teacher aides are classroom support staff for teachers. Read on to learn about a teacher aide's job duties, as well as the education you'd need to pursue this position and the career outlook. Schools offering Teaching Assistant degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What are the Duties of a Teacher Aid?

As a teacher aide, sometimes referred to as a paraprofessional or teacher assistant, you support teachers by helping with clerical and instructional duties in the classroom. This gives teachers more time to plan lessons and teach. You work with individual students and small groups as directed by the teacher. Some aides may specialize in specific subjects with special education students or those who are non-native English speakers. Special education teacher aides assist students with their physical needs so they can focus on learning. Your duties could include listening to students read, grading homework and tests, keeping attendance records, and helping students with class work.

How Do I Prepare?

A review of job ads posted on Monster.com in April 2011 demonstrated that most employers seeking teacher aides require only a high school diploma and on-the-job training to begin their careers. Some states require completion of a certification process. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), schools with a high percentage of lower income students may require teacher aides to have at least a 2-year undergraduate degree and pass rigorous assessment tests (www.bls.gov). A college degree or courses in child development are appropriate for students wishing to become teacher aides. Teacher aides should also have experience working with children and have strong writing, communication and computer skills. Those who work with special education students may find the position to have some physical demands, such as lifting students as needed. The ability to speak a second language is also an important skill for teacher aides.

What is My Career Outlook?

The BLS expected job prospects to be favorable for teacher aides during the 2008-2018 decade. Turnover is high, and the number of available positions was expected to grow by ten percent, which is faster than average. Most positions are available on a part-time basis, with limited full-time options. Demand was expected to be higher in the South and West, due to more rapid population growth. Pay is relatively low, which contributes to the rapid turnover in positions. According to Payscale.com, the middle half of teacher aides earned $16,594 - $25,083 per year, as of April 2011.

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