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Become An Instructional Assistant

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Working As An Instructional Assistant

  • Assisting and Caring for Others
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Getting Information
  • Thinking Creatively
  • $30,180

    Average Salary

What Does An Instructional Assistant Do

Teacher assistants work under a teacher’s supervision to give students additional attention and instruction.

Duties

Teacher assistants typically do the following:

  • Reinforce lessons presented by teachers by reviewing material with students one-on-one or in small groups
  • Enforce school and class rules to help teach students proper behavior
  • Help teachers with recordkeeping, such as tracking attendance and calculating grades
  • Help teachers prepare for lessons by getting materials ready or setting up equipment, such as computers
  • Supervise students in class, between classes, during lunch and recess, and on field trips

Teacher assistants also are called teacher aides, instructional aides, paraprofessionals, education assistants, and paraeducators.

Teacher assistants work with or under the guidance of a licensed teacher. Generally, teachers introduce new material to students while teacher assistants help reinforce the lessons by working with individual students or small groups of students. For example, after the teacher presents a lesson, a teacher assistant may help a small group of students as they try to master the material.

Teachers may seek feedback from assistants to monitor students’ progress. Some teachers and teacher assistants meet regularly to discuss lesson plans and student development. Teacher assistants sometimes help teachers by grading tests and checking homework.

Some teacher assistants work only with special education students. Some of these students attend regular classes, and teacher assistants help them understand the material and adapt the information to their learning style. Teacher assistants may work with students who have more severe disabilities in separate classrooms. They help these students with basic needs, such as eating or personal hygiene. With young adults, they may help students with disabilities learn skills necessary for them to find a job or live independently after graduation.

Some teacher assistants work in specific locations in the school. For example, some work in computer laboratories, teaching students how to use computers and helping them use software. Others work as recess or lunchroom attendants, supervising students during these times of the day.

Although most teacher assistants work in elementary, middle, and high schools, others work in preschools and childcare centers. Often, one or two assistants work with a lead teacher to provide the individual attention that young children need. They help with educational activities. They also supervise the children at play and help with feeding and other basic care.

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How To Become An Instructional Assistant

Teacher assistants typically need to have completed at least 2 years of college coursework.

Education

Most school districts require applicants to have completed at least 2 years of college coursework or have earned an associate’s degree. Teacher assistants in schools that have a Title 1 program (a federal program for schools with a large proportion of students from low-income households) must have at least a 2-year degree, 2 years of college, or pass a state or local assessment.

Associate’s degree programs for teacher assistants prepare the participants to develop educational materials, observe students, and understand the role of teachers and teaching assistants in the classroom.

Most states require instructional aides who work with special-needs students to pass a skills-based test.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Teacher assistants need to discuss students’ progress with teachers and parents, so they need to be able to communicate well.

Interpersonal skills. Teacher assistants interact with a variety of people, including teachers, students, parents, and administrators. They need to develop good working relationships with the people they work with.

Patience. Working with students of different abilities and backgrounds can be difficult. Teacher assistants must be patient with students who struggle with material.

Resourcefulness. To reinforce lessons, teacher assistants must explain information to students in a way that meets each student’s learning style. 

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Instructional Assistant jobs

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Instructional Assistant Career Paths

Instructional Assistant

Average Length of Employment
Special ED Teacher 3.6 years
Special Educator 3.4 years
Para Educator 2.9 years
Para Professional 2.7 years
Instructional Aide 2.4 years
Educational Aid 2.1 years
Teacher Aide 2.0 years
Teaching Aide 1.8 years
Teacher Assistant 1.8 years
Top Employers Before
Internship 9.1%
Teacher 7.4%
Cashier 6.0%
Volunteer 5.0%
Tutor 4.2%
Instructor 3.8%
Assistant 2.7%
Top Employers After
Teacher 11.4%
Internship 7.1%
Instructor 6.7%
Cashier 4.1%
Volunteer 4.0%
Tutor 3.9%
Assistant 2.5%

Instructional Assistant Demographics

Gender

Female

66.9%

Male

30.6%

Unknown

2.5%
Ethnicity

White

75.1%

Hispanic or Latino

13.5%

Asian

8.8%

Unknown

1.9%

Black or African American

0.6%
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Languages Spoken

Spanish

59.8%

French

7.0%

Chinese

4.7%

Mandarin

3.8%

German

3.3%

Japanese

2.7%

Arabic

2.6%

Portuguese

2.1%

Hindi

2.0%

Russian

1.8%

Italian

1.7%

Korean

1.6%

Cantonese

1.6%

Vietnamese

1.1%

Tagalog

0.9%

Hmong

0.7%

Greek

0.6%

Thai

0.6%

Urdu

0.6%

Polish

0.6%
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Instructional Assistant Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

12.5%

Grand Canyon University

9.1%

Texas State University

8.1%

Liberty University

7.2%

University of Houston

7.1%

University of Texas at Austin

5.0%

Virginia Commonwealth University

4.7%

Indiana University Bloomington

4.4%

George Mason University

4.3%

Ashford University

4.0%

Ball State University

4.0%

Arizona State University

3.6%

San Jose State University

3.6%

California State University - Sacramento

3.5%

National University

3.4%

California State University - Fullerton

3.3%

Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis

3.2%

Southern Connecticut State University

3.1%

San Diego State University

3.0%

Indiana Wesleyan University

2.9%
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Majors

Business

12.7%

Psychology

11.6%

Elementary Education

9.8%

Education

8.0%

Special Education

6.1%

Criminal Justice

5.1%

Liberal Arts

4.7%

Communication

4.2%

Early Childhood Education

4.1%

English

4.0%

Nursing

3.8%

Human Development

3.3%

Social Work

3.2%

Biology

2.9%

Human Services

2.9%

Sociology

2.9%

General Studies

2.9%

General Education, Specific Areas

2.6%

Kinesiology

2.6%

Health Care Administration

2.6%
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Degrees

Bachelors

39.0%

Masters

23.0%

Other

19.6%

Associate

9.8%

Certificate

4.4%

Doctorate

3.1%

Diploma

0.8%

License

0.3%
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Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary

Real Instructional Assistant Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Instructor-Assistant In Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University Tallahassee, FL Jan 24, 2016 $70,000
Instructor-Assistant In Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University Tallahassee, FL Jan 24, 2015 $70,000
Instructor-Assistant In Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University Tallahassee, FL Jan 24, 2014 $70,000
Visiting Instructor/Visiting Assistant Prof. of Economics Franklin & Marshall College Lancaster, PA Jan 08, 2016 $62,000
Visiting Instructor/Visiting Asst. Prof. of Juda Franklin & Marshall College Lancaster, PA Jul 01, 2011 $60,000
Instructor/Asst. Prof. of Comm. Sciences & Disorde Appalachian State University Boone, NC Jan 01, 2012 $59,850 -
$63,000
Visiting Instructor/Assistant Prof. of Educational Studies Colgate University Hamilton, NY Jul 01, 2015 $55,600
Instructional Asst. Prof. of Italian The University of Mississippi University, MS Jun 01, 2012 $53,333
Cosmetology Instructor Assistant Rosel School of Cosmetology Chicago, IL Nov 16, 2015 $48,298
Cosmetology Instructor Assistant Rosel School of Cosmetology Chicago, IL Mar 02, 2015 $48,298
Web Services Librarian/Instructional Asst. Profess Illinois State University Normal, IL Jan 15, 2013 $48,012
Instructor/Asst. Prof. of Mass Communications Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Edwardsville, IL May 02, 2008 $44,550
Research Assistant Professor/Instructional Asst. P The University of Houston Houston, TX Sep 01, 2013 $42,343
Bilingual Instructional Assistant Princeton Regional School Board of Education Princeton, NJ Jul 01, 2011 $36,189
Bilingual Instructional Assistant Princeton Regional Schools Princeton, NJ Jul 01, 2010 $35,479
Bilingual Instructional Assistant Princeton Regional School Board of Education Princeton, NJ Sep 01, 2010 $35,479
Instructional Assistant Manhattan Charter School New York, NY Aug 10, 2015 $34,505
Instructional Assistant Manhattan Charter School New York, NY Aug 15, 2014 $33,500
Instructional Assistant Manhattan Charter School New York, NY Aug 01, 2014 $33,500
Instructional Assistant, Biology MSM International Corp., Inc. T/A Best Academy Springfield, VA Mar 11, 2015 $29,723

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Top Skills for An Instructional Assistant

ClassroomTeacherSmallGroupInstructionBehavioralIssuesMathematicsSkillsLessonPlansSpecialNeedsChildrenSpecialEducationIEPInstructionalMaterialsSuperviseKindergartenLanguageArtsPositiveLearningEnvironmentClassroomManagementLifeSkillsClassroomActivitiesSocialSkillsClassroomSettingBehaviorManagementCrisis

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Top Instructional Assistant Skills

  1. Classroom Teacher
  2. Small Group Instruction
  3. Behavioral Issues
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Implement Behavior Plans with assistance of the classroom teacher.
  • Provide one on one and small group instruction to children who need additional help.
  • Review of goals set up to resolve student behavioral issues and academic deficiencies.
  • Worked with students individually and in small groups to reinforce reading, writing, and mathematics skills.
  • Assisted the middle school boy's math teacher with daily assignments, maintained classroom control, and contributed with lesson plans.

Top Instructional Assistant Employers

Instructional Assistant Videos

Teachers and Teacher Aides Part 1

A day in the life of a Special Education teacher

A Day in the Life of a Kindergarten Teacher

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