How to Become a Kindergarten Teacher Assistant: Career Guide

Research the requirements to become a kindergarten teacher assistant. Learn about the job description and duties, and read the step-by-step process to start a career as a kindergarten teacher assistant. View article »

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  • 0:00 Should I Become a…
  • 1:16 Career Requirements
  • 1:54 Step 1: Meet Requirements
  • 2:50 Step 2: Complete Training
  • 3:08 Step 3: Obtain Certification

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Video Transcript

Should I Become a Kindergarten Teacher Assistant?

Kindergarten teacher assistants, also known as teacher aides, paraprofessionals, or instructional aides, work side-by-side with the kindergarten teachers to make the class run more efficiently. Teacher assistants may supervise students, working with them individually or in small groups, to reinforce lessons. Assistants are often responsible for students on playgrounds and buses, in addition to the lunch room and hallways. Children in this age group tend to be quite energetic and impulsive, so the job may be stressful. However, the stress may be outweighed by the rewards of observing the students' accomplishments at the end of the school year. Work schedules vary from 10-months a year to year-round.

Requirements to be a teacher assistant vary by state, district, and school. For example, there are special requirements to work in certain low-income schools that receive Title I funding. Additionally, a few states and districts require teacher assistants to become certified. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a high school diploma or equivalent may be sufficient for some teacher assistant positions, but in other cases, an associate's degree or some college coursework will be required.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Varies; at least a high school diploma and sometimes an associate's degree may be required
Degree Field Nearly any field is acceptable in most cases
Licensure/Certification Certification is required to work in some schools/districts; varies by state
Key Skills People skills; patience; communication; organizational and instructional skills
Median Salary (2015)* $24,900 (for all teaching assistants)

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2014), job postings (July 2012), NYC Department of Education.

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Step 1: Meet Requirements

Although some teacher assistant jobs only require a high school diploma, many other states, districts, and schools have special requirements that must be met by prospective teacher assistants. Typically, aspiring teacher assistants must earn an associate's degree, have completed a certain number of college credit hours, or have passed a paraprofessional exam. For those who choose to qualify through education, any accredited degree program is usually acceptable. For those who'd prefer to qualify by taking the exam, details on this procedure are usually available through districts and state departments of education. Teacher assistant applicants may also be asked to undergo a background check before beginning work.

Prepare for Paraprofessional Exam

Prospective teachers should find out what the test will cover and sufficiently prepare in advance, for those planning to qualify by taking a paraprofessional exam. Be sure to follow all instructions given by the testing service.

Step 2: Complete Training

In some cases, teacher assistants may also need to complete a brief training program provided by the state, district, or school. Common topics covered in these programs include behavior improvement, classroom management, instructional and organizational methods, and teacher assistant responsibilities.

Step 3: Obtain Certification

You can work in any school, public or private, with a bachelor's degree and teacher certification. Typically, teacher assistant certification applicants need to show proof that they meet the educational and/or testing requirements, and they might also need to submit a background check. After obtaining initial certification, teacher assistants may be required to take additional steps to maintain it over the years.

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