Teacher's aides, also called teacher's assistants, assist teachers in the classroom. Most often found in elementary schools and special education centers, teacher's aides help with tasks like attendance, grading, preparing classroom materials and supervising field trips. Teacher's aides are hired with a high school diploma in some districts; however, most aides require an associate's degree or two years of college. Many teacher's aides receive their career training on-the-job, though educational programs are available.
Unlike teachers, teacher's aides are not always required to have an undergraduate degree and often receive the bulk of their training on-the-job. A high school diploma may be enough to get a job as a teacher's aide in some districts, but most earn at least an associate's degree. On-the-job training typically covers learning the rules and operating procedures of their school, computer and AV equipment training, record keeping, and classroom material preparation.
Teacher's aides in Title I schools are required by Federal law to have some college training or proven academic skills. Title I schools are those which have a large portion of students that come from low income households. The Federal law states that these teacher's aides and assistants must have at least a 2-year degree, two years of higher education experience, or pass an assessment exam.
Prospective teaching assistants who wish to enter a formal education program have several options to choose from. Some of the more common paths include a teacher's aide certificate or associate degrees in paraprofessional education or child development.
Teacher's aide certificate programs typically last less than one year and provide the same core curriculum of an associate's degree without any additional liberal arts courses. Courses in a teacher's aide certificate program include psychology, physical education, speech communication and an introduction to education.
Some community colleges also offer an associate's degree in paraprofessional education designed to train teacher's aides. Aspiring teacher's aides can choose to concentrate their studies in areas such as developmental disabilities or learning. Courses in a teacher's aide associate degree program often include sign language, developmental disabilities, elementary education, child development and educational psychology.
Child development associate degree programs are another common path for those wishing to pursue a career as a teacher's aide. An associate degree in child development helps to prepare students for teacher's aide positions in daycare centers and organizations that work with children. Courses in a child development degree program often include nutrition, safety, community relations and family relations.
The training requirements to become a teacher's aide can vary greatly, and range from just a high school diploma and on-the-job training to a certificate program or associate's degree program.