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Difference Between Teacher Aide & Teacher Assistant

There is variability and overlap between the job of teacher aide and teacher assistant. The biggest difference involves the level of instruction they provide. A teacher aide has little autonomy, but a teacher assistant can plan some lessons.

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Comparing Teacher Aides to Teacher Assistants

Teacher aides and teacher assistants both work in the classroom. A teacher assistant is certified to provide instructional support while a teacher aide is tasked with non-professional duties such as classroom preparation, proctoring tests, and attending to the children's needs. The table below compares the educational requirements and job details for these two occupations.

Job Title Minimum Education Required Median Salary Job Growth (2014-2024)*
Teacher aide High School Diploma $18,711 (2016)* +6% (included in teacher assistant category)
Teacher assistant Post-secondary Certificate Program $25,410 (2017)** +6%

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale

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Responsibilities of Teacher Aides vs. Teacher Assistants

Teacher aides can be found in elementary or special education classrooms, while teacher assistants may also work in middle school and high school. Their jobs are a bit different. A teacher aide is similar to a personal assistant with many organizational functions like managing paperwork. On the other hand, a teacher assistant has been trained in instructional strategies and may engage students in a lesson or remediation.

Teacher Aide

A teacher aide helps organize and distribute classroom materials so that the flow of instruction is seamless. Specific duties and training requirements vary depending upon the school district. These duties can range from being an additional adult overseeing student safety to helping implement lessons according to teacher plans.

Job responsibilities of a teacher aide include:

  • Completing clerical work
  • Providing supervision
  • Keeping student information confidential
  • Proctoring tests
  • Enforcing classroom rules

Teacher Assistant

A teacher assistant can instruct small groups of students selected by the classroom teacher and potentially plan activities. Duties of this job require a knowledge of child development and interpersonal skills to coordinate instruction with the primary teacher as well as communicate with parents. In some cases the teacher assistant may be required to assume command of the classroom in the teacher's absence.

Job responsibilities of a teacher assistant include:

  • Teaching remedial lessons to students
  • Drilling students to reinforce lessons delivered by teacher
  • Helping grade student work and maintain records
  • Keeping parents updated on child's progress
  • Enforcing classroom rules

Related Careers

Other jobs that require organization similar to a teacher aide include library assistants because they maintain records of the flow of materials in a library instead of a classroom. A personal assistant job would be more similar to the teacher assistant due to the high level of communication skills required.

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