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Teacher Assistants Career Overview

Perform duties that are instructional in nature or deliver direct services to students or parents. Serve in a position for which a teacher or another professional has ultimate responsibility for the design and implementation of educational programs and services.

Salary for Teacher Assistants

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U.S. $17,610
Annual figures are on top. Hourly figures are below in parentheses.
N/A = Information not available

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Career Outlook for Teacher Assistants

Many job openings are expected for teacher assistants due to turnover and about as fast as the average employment growth in this large occupation, resulting in favorable job prospects.

Employment change. Employment of teacher assistants is expected to grow by 10 percent between 2008 and 2018, which is about as fast as the average for all occupations. School enrollments are projected to increase slowly over the next decade, but faster growth is expected among special education students and students for whom English is a second language, and those students will increase as a share of the total school-age population. Teacher assistants often are necessary to provide these students with the attention they require.

Legislation that requires both students with disabilities and nonnative English speakers to receive an education equal to that of other students will continue to generate jobs for teacher assistants, who help to accommodate these students' special needs. Children with special needs require more personal attention, and teachers rely heavily on teacher assistants to provide much of that attention. An increasing number of afterschool programs and summer programs also will create new opportunities for teacher assistants.

The greater focus on school quality and accountability that has prevailed in recent years is likely to lead to an increased demand for teacher assistants as well. Growing numbers of teacher assistants may be needed to help teachers prepare students for standardized testing and to provide extra assistance to students who perform poorly on the tests. Job growth of assistants may be moderated, however, if schools are encouraged to hire more teachers for instructional purposes.

Job prospects. Favorable job prospects are expected. Opportunities for teacher assistant jobs should be best for those with at least 2 years of formal postsecondary education, those with experience in helping special education students, and those who can speak a foreign language. Demand is expected to vary by region of the country. Regions in which the population and school enrollments are expected to grow faster, such as many communities in the South and West, should have rapid growth in the demand for teacher assistants.

In addition to job openings stemming from employment growth, numerous openings will arise as assistants leave their jobs and must be replaced. Many assistant jobs require limited formal education and offer relatively low pay, so many workers transfer to other occupations or leave the labor force to assume family responsibilities, return to school, or for other reasons.

Although opportunities will be favorable, there may be a limited number of full-time positions because many school districts prefer to hire these workers part time.

Employment Overview

Teacher assistants held about 1.3 million jobs in 2008. Many worked for public and private educational institutions. Child care centers and religious organizations employed most of the rest.

Job Zone Description

Job Zone 3 - Medium preparation

Overall Experience
Previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is required for these occupations. For example, an electrician must have gone through an apprenticeship program or several years of vocational training to perform the job.

Most occupations in this zone require training in vocational schools, related job experience, or an associate's degree. Some may require a bachelor's degree.

Job Training
Employees in these occupations usually need one or two years of training, including both on-the-job experience and informal training with experienced workers.

Dental assistants, electricians, fish and game wardens, legal secretaries, personnel recruiters and recreational workers.

These occupations often involve using communication and organization skills to manage and train others.

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Additional Resources for Teacher Assistants Job Seekers

For information on teacher assistants, including training and certification, contact:

  • American Federation of Teachers, Paraprofessional and School Related Personnel Division, 555 New Jersey Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20001. Internet:
  • National Education Association, Educational Support Personnel Division, 1201 16th Street, NW., Washington, DC 20036. Internet:
  • National Resource Center for Paraprofessionals, 6526 Old Main Hill, Utah State University, Logan, UT 84322. Internet:

Human resource departments in school systems, school administrators, and State departments of education also can provide details about employment opportunities and required qualifications for teacher assistant jobs.

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