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Teacher aides assist in the classroom, schoolyard and on field trips. They may work with students individually or in small groups to reinforce lessons and provide guidance in completing assignments. They also perform critical support tasks such as recording grades or attendance, monitoring students and chaperoning them on trips, preparing instructional materials and setting up equipment and more.

Many teacher aides specialize in a particular age group or function. Specialties can include:

  • Preschool or child care
  • Elementary school
  • Secondary school
  • Special education
  • Computer and educational technology
  • Schoolyard monitoring
  • Specific subject area assistance, like science or math

Coursework in Teacher Aide Degree Programs

College education is an increasingly important qualification for teacher aide positions. As classroom sizes increase and more students enter school, having individual time for each student may become more difficult for teachers to handle. A well-trained teacher aide can help reinforce lessons and provide more one-on-one time for students who need it. They can also work with students before and after school.

Teacher Assisting

Teacher aide education programs are typically available at the certificate or associate degree level. A teacher aide certificate, also called a paraprofessional certificate or certificate in early childhood studies, typically takes a year to eighteen months to complete.

Students in these programs can learn about:

  • Child development: Students in this course can learn about the different stages and areas of development children go through as they progress in age.
  • Classroom teaching techniques: This class can teach future educators how to handle behavioral issues, how to put together a lesson plan and how to provide positive guidance for children.
  • Teaching students with disabilities: Having the skills to effectively educate students with disabilities is increasingly important, and this course can give individuals the skills necessary to reach these exceptional learners.
  • Educational technology: Smartboards, online grade books and online resources to combat cheating are just a few of the number of new technologies that educators can use. This course goes over many of them.

Career Outlook for Graduates of Teacher Aide Degree Programs

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics teacher aide positions are estimated to grow 9 percent from 2012 through 2022. Certain factors could boost demand beyond this forecast, however.

Increasing class sizes, higher diagnosis rates for special needs students and rising enrollment overall could increase the need for qualified teacher aides. Experience with special needs students and ability to speak a foreign language will be a potential asset in the job market.

BLS data shows that the five states with the highest employment level in 2013 were California, New York, Texas, New Jersey and Illinois. The annual mean wage for teacher aides in these five states in 2013 was $25,570.

Sources:
"Teacher Assistants," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/teacher-assistants.htm
"25-9041 Teacher Assistants," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2013, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes259041.htm

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