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What Does a Teacher Assistant Do?

Keeping a class of students engaged in learning is no easy task, which is why many teachers rely on the help of teacher assistants. Also commonly known as teacher aides, instructional aides or teaching assistants, they help classes run smoothly by reinforcing the lead teacher’s lesson plans and performing common classroom tasks at the teacher’s direction.

Teacher assistants may also provide additional assistance to special education students or students who need extra help in completing classwork. They typically work at schools and childcare centers.

Some assistants work part-time. Many assistants do not work during the summer, but exceptions include those who help classroom teachers during summer school or those who work at year-round schools.

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A teacher assistant helps two students with classwork
Teacher assistants often work one-on-one or with smaller groups to reinforce a teacher’s lesson plan. (Credit: Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock)
Duties + Responsibilities
  • Provide support and reinforcement for lead teacher
  • Give one-on-one or small-group instruction
  • Help teacher with taking attendance, grading tests and other record-keeping and clerical tasks
  • Help prepare lesson plans, including gathering materials and setting up the classroom and equipment
  • Help supervise students during class, lunch, recess, between classes and on outings such as field trips
  • Meet with lead teacher to discuss students’ progress
Education + Training

Most public school districts look for applicants who have completed at least two years of college or have earned an associate degree. Qualifications vary by state and even by school district.

Associate degree and certificate programs cover how to create educational materials, classroom observation skills and the many ways an assistant supports a classroom teacher. These programs also provide classroom experience.

Most states require a criminal background check. Some states require certifications in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and first aid. Continuing education and certification can lead to additional opportunities and advancement.

You May Be a Good Fit for This Position If You
  • Have the patience and flexibility to work with children with different learning styles
  • Have excellent communication skills
  • Have strong interpersonal skills to work with teachers, students and parents
  • Are resourceful, and able to explain information in different ways

Teacher Assistant training in your area


Early Childhood Education, State Certificate

Bellevue College
Bellevue (0.0 Miles)

Early Childhood Education, A.A.S.

Wake Technical Community College
Raleigh (0.0 Miles)

Infant Toddler Development Certificate of Specialization

Foothill College
Los Altos Hills (0.0 Miles)

Child Development: Teacher Assistant Certificate

Mt. Hood Community College
Gresham (0.0 Miles)

Child Development Associate

Community College of Philadelphia
Philadelphia (0.0 Miles)

Education, A.A.

Little Big Horn College
Crow Agency (0.0 Miles)

Physical Education, A.A.

Metropolitan Community College (MO)
Kansas City (0.0 Miles)
Bakersfield College

Paraprofessional Level II Certificate

Bakersfield College
Bakersfield (0.0 Miles)

Teacher Assistant Skills Certificate

Los Angeles Southwest College
Los Angeles (0.0 Miles)

Child Development Careers, A.A.S

Saint Paul College
St Paul (0.0 Miles)

Secondary Math Education, A.S.

Western Wyoming Community College
Rock Springs (0.0 Miles)

Early Childhood Education Diploma

Craven Community College
New Bern (0.0 Miles)
Meet Ambassador
Patrice Hayes
Patrice Hayes, teacher assistant ambassador
Meet Ambassador
Patrice Hayes

Patrice Hayes has been a teacher assistant for 14 years, but she never tires of engaging with kids and learning their personalities.

“I like that I am a big part of their life at a pivotal time in their life,” says Patrice. “I love to see them grow. I love to see their personalities shine.”

She says there are many necessary qualities needed to do her job well. “You have to have patience. You have to be positive,” she says. 

The most important quality? “You have to be able to handle the unexpected.” And just keep smiling!

Find Teacher Assistant Jobs in Your Area


Assistant Teacher (various ages infants to 4 years old)

Primrose School
Oklahoma City ( 0.0 ) Miles
Posted 7 months 2 weeks ago

Special Programs Instructional Assistant - Bilingual 2020-21 - Early Childhood

Salem-Keizer School District
Salem ( 0.0 ) Miles
Posted 1 week ago

Instructional Health Assistant - North Bullitt High

Bullitt County Public Schools
Shepherdsville ( 0.0 ) Miles
Posted 7 months 3 weeks ago

Education Assistant

Shelby County School District
Cordova ( 0.0 ) Miles
Posted 1 week ago

Summer Camp Teacher

Primrose School
Thornton ( 0.0 ) Miles
Posted 8 months ago

Teacher Assistant

North Country Academy
York ( 0.0 ) Miles
Posted 5 days 11 hours ago

Assistant Teacher

Primrose School
Franklin County ( 0.0 ) Miles
Posted 8 months ago

Special Education Paraprofessional

Vertex Education
Chandler ( 0.0 ) Miles
Posted 5 days 11 hours ago