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Become A Special Education Teaching Assistant

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Working As A Special Education Teaching Assistant

  • Assisting and Caring for Others
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Getting Information
  • Thinking Creatively
  • $31,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Special Education Teaching 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 A Special Education Teaching 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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Special Education Teaching Assistant Career Paths

Special Education Teaching Assistant
Special Education Teacher Lead Teacher Assistant Director
Center Director
7 Yearsyrs
Special Education Teacher Lead Teacher Manager
Principal
11 Yearsyrs
Special Education Teacher Lead Teacher Director
Education Director
7 Yearsyrs
Tutor Instructor Adjunct Professor
Assistant Principal
10 Yearsyrs
Tutor Instructor
Vocational Training Instructor
5 Yearsyrs
Tutor Adjunct Professor Assistant Principal
Elementary School Principal
12 Yearsyrs
Special Education Assistant Kindergarten Teacher Preschool Lead Teacher
Lead Pre-K Teacher
5 Yearsyrs
Special Education Assistant Kindergarten Teacher Adjunct Professor
Department Chairperson
7 Yearsyrs
Special Education Assistant Kindergarten Teacher Education Consultant
School Principal
10 Yearsyrs
Nanny Team Leader Director
Founder And Director
6 Yearsyrs
Nanny Consultant Principal
Athletic Director
5 Yearsyrs
Nanny Administrator Assistant Principal
Vice Principal
8 Yearsyrs
Long Term Substitute Teacher Adjunct Instructor Assistant Principal
Director Of Special Education
11 Yearsyrs
Long Term Substitute Teacher Preschool Lead Teacher Education Director
Director Of Instruction
7 Yearsyrs
Long Term Substitute Teacher School Counselor School Psychologist
Special Education Supervisor
5 Yearsyrs
Program Coordinator Educational Programs Coordinator Education Program Manager
Assistant Education Director
6 Yearsyrs
Program Coordinator Education Coordinator Preschool Lead Teacher
Early Childhood Specialist
5 Yearsyrs
Program Coordinator Education Consultant Educational Manager
Director Of In Service Education
9 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as a Special Education Teaching Assistant?

Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Para Educator 3.0 years
Instructional Aide 2.5 years
Top Careers Before Special Education Teaching Assistant
Teacher 8.1%
Internship 6.3%
Volunteer 4.1%
Cashier 3.9%
Assistant 3.1%
Tutor 2.8%
Server 2.1%
Top Careers After Special Education Teaching Assistant
Teacher 10.5%
Internship 5.6%
Tutor 3.9%
Volunteer 2.9%
Server 2.4%
Assistant 2.2%
Owner 2.0%

Do you work as a Special Education Teaching Assistant?

Special Education Teaching Assistant Demographics

Gender

Female

70.3%

Male

22.2%

Unknown

7.5%
Ethnicity

White

64.0%

Hispanic or Latino

14.2%

Black or African American

11.0%

Asian

7.0%

Unknown

3.8%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

55.3%

French

8.5%

Italian

8.5%

Chinese

4.3%

Braille

4.3%

German

4.3%

Mandarin

4.3%

Khmer

2.1%

Hebrew

2.1%

Japanese

2.1%

Arabic

2.1%

Korean

2.1%
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Special Education Teaching Assistant Education

Schools

Illinois State University

7.6%

Montclair State University

7.6%

Touro College

7.0%

Lesley University

6.4%

University of Phoenix

6.4%

Grand Canyon University

6.4%

Hofstra University

5.7%

College of New Rochelle

4.5%

Pima Community College

4.5%

Walden University

4.5%

Aurora University

4.5%

Northeastern University

4.5%

Syracuse University

3.8%

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities

3.8%

University of Texas at Austin

3.8%

University of Massachusetts Amherst

3.8%

Dutchess Community College

3.8%

University of Illinois at Chicago

3.8%

Capella University

3.8%

Cambridge College

3.8%
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Majors

Special Education

18.9%

Elementary Education

11.7%

Psychology

11.7%

Education

10.5%

Business

6.9%

Early Childhood Education

4.7%

Liberal Arts

3.8%

School Counseling

3.2%

Nursing

3.1%

English

3.1%

Sociology

2.7%

Social Work

2.5%

Counseling Psychology

2.5%

Human Development

2.3%

Kinesiology

2.1%

General Studies

2.1%

Communication

2.1%

Criminal Justice

2.1%

History

2.0%

Mental Health Counseling

1.8%
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Degrees

Bachelors

36.6%

Masters

33.3%

Other

16.2%

Associate

6.3%

Certificate

4.9%

Doctorate

1.4%

Diploma

0.9%

License

0.4%
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Top Skills for A Special Education Teaching Assistant

  1. Classroom Management
  2. Behavioral Issues
  3. Absent Teacher
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Assisted in overall classroom management; created, implemented, and supervised behavior modification plans for individual students.
  • Managed the environment while Teacher was teaching a lesson, assisted students as needed with classwork and emotional or behavioral issues.
  • Worked independently to help special education students fulfill their school work through use of the strategies included in their IEP.
  • Provide individualized and small group instruction that parallels regular classroom curriculum with emphasis on remedial instruction.
  • Support student learning by reinforcing academic skills taught by the special education teachers using a variety of instructional modifications and accommodations.

How Would You Rate Working As a Special Education Teaching Assistant?

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Top Special Education Teaching Assistant Employers

Jobs From Top Special Education Teaching Assistant Employers

Special Education Teaching Assistant Videos

A day in the life of a Special Education teacher

A Day in the Life of a Kindergarten Teacher

A day in the life of a pre-school teacher

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