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Working As a Teaching Assistant And Substitute Teacher

  • Assisting and Caring for Others
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Getting Information
  • Thinking Creatively
  • $26,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Teaching Assistant And Substitute Teacher 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 Teaching Assistant And Substitute Teacher

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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Average Length of Employment
Teacher Associate 2.4 years
Substitute Teacher 2.3 years
Teacher Assistant 2.0 years
Teacher Aide 1.9 years
Volunteer Teacher 1.6 years
Helper Teacher 1.5 years
Teacher Internship 0.8 years
Top Careers Before Teaching Assistant And Substitute Teacher
Internship 8.5%
Volunteer 8.0%
Teacher 6.9%
Cashier 4.8%
Tutor 3.2%
Server 3.2%
Assistant 2.7%
Top Careers After Teaching Assistant And Substitute Teacher
Teacher 13.0%
Tutor 4.1%
Internship 4.1%
Volunteer 3.1%
Aide 3.1%
Instructor 2.6%
Associate 2.6%

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Top Skills for A Teaching Assistant And Substitute Teacher

  1. Special Needs
  2. Lesson Plans
  3. Classroom Management
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Provide individualized academic instruction and support for students with special needs.
  • Completed lesson plans and implemented classroom instruction.
  • Instructed and organized lessons, provided behavioral plans and facilitated classroom management.
  • Co-tutored an elementary school class of 37 in Mathematics, English, Social Studies, Religion and Science
  • Worked individually and among small groups of children to reinforce the new skills they learned previously from the head teacher.

Teaching Assistant And Substitute Teacher Demographics

Gender

Female

69.3%

Male

20.6%

Unknown

10.1%
Ethnicity

White

62.2%

Hispanic or Latino

16.3%

Black or African American

12.1%

Asian

6.4%

Unknown

2.9%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

46.4%

French

17.9%

Chinese

7.1%

Arabic

7.1%

Italian

7.1%

Swedish

3.6%

German

3.6%

Japanese

3.6%

Mandarin

3.6%
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Teaching Assistant And Substitute Teacher Education

Schools

Mercy College - Dobbs Ferry

11.8%

University of Phoenix

7.8%

Illinois State University

5.9%

Indiana University Bloomington

5.9%

Pennsylvania State University

5.9%

Nova Southeastern University

5.9%

California State University - Northridge

5.9%

Syracuse University

3.9%

College of Lake County

3.9%

University of Pennsylvania

3.9%

Cardinal Stritch University

3.9%

Georgia Southern University

3.9%

College of Saint Rose

3.9%

LIU Hudson at Rockland

3.9%

State University of New York Purchase

3.9%

Liberty University

3.9%

University of Utah

3.9%

State University of New York College at Oswego

3.9%

California State University - East Bay

3.9%

University of Missouri - Columbia

3.9%
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Majors

Elementary Education

15.0%

Business

11.1%

Psychology

8.3%

Special Education

7.8%

General Education, Specific Areas

5.0%

School Counseling

4.4%

Education

4.4%

Communication

4.4%

Early Childhood Education

3.9%

Social Work

3.9%

English

3.9%

History

3.9%

Human Development

3.9%

Educational Leadership

3.3%

Accounting

3.3%

Liberal Arts

2.8%

Chemistry

2.8%

Sociology

2.8%

Human Services

2.8%

Health Education

2.2%
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Degrees

Bachelors

36.9%

Masters

28.8%

Other

16.3%

Certificate

7.1%

Associate

7.1%

Doctorate

2.4%

Diploma

1.4%
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Teaching Assistant And Substitute Teacher Videos

A Day in the Life of a Kindergarten Teacher

🍎What's in My Teacher Bag? |Tina Bietler

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Updated May 19, 2020