How To Become a Teacher Assistant (With Skills and FAQs)

Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 23 March 2023

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A teacher's assistant, also known as a TA, assists the lead teacher by helping to understand the needs of students in the classroom and preparing the teaching lessons based on the syllabus and student's requirements. A teaching assistant performs a lot of additional roles in a school setting. Gaining knowledge about their duties and responsibilities may help you decide if this can be a career choice for you.

In this article, we discuss what a TA does, how to become a teacher assistant, the time required to become a TA, how much you can earn as a TA, the work environment of those in this role and the skills you can benefit from having, plus provide an example of teacher assistant's job description.

How to become a teacher assistant

If you are interested in becoming a teacher assistant, follow these steps:

1. Earn a basic qualification

It is important to know what minimum qualification is required to become a teacher assistant. To become a teacher assistant, it is important to complete your school education up to the 12th standard from a recognised school board. A bachelor's degree in any discipline with a minimum aggregate of 50% is also necessary. You must also complete a two-year diploma in Elementary Education (DLEd).

2. Clear competitive exams

To enter the teaching field, you must first clear the teacher eligibility test (TET). The selection for teaching assistants is done based on your academic record, personal interview and score in TET.

TET is conducted to get shortlisted for a teaching job at the central and state levels. The C.B.S.E. (Central Board of Secondary Education) conducts CTET (Central Teacher Eligibility Test) at the national level and different states conduct the TET at the state level such as OTET, UPTET, HP TET and others.

3. Gain relevant experience

You may need to gain experience in the teaching field to differentiate yourself from your competitors. You can begin gaining experience by completing an internship during your undergraduate years or working as a tutor or in another educational setting that is similar. You can also volunteer at a local school, offering your services to their front office or library or signing up to work alongside teachers.

4. Enhance your resume

Create a resume that showcases your education and any skills that are relevant to teaching students. Make sure to highlight things like communication and organisation, both of which are important skills for this role. Include any relevant prior work experience that shows you will be able to work closely with your lead teacher to help students with lessons that follow state standards.

5. Enhance your skills

Once you have a job as a teaching assistant, you can progress in your career by continuing your education courses and enhancing your skills. You can also take further exams to become a teacher or develop your skills in teaching additional subjects to students. To find out the more important skills to strengthen, look at job description to read what employers list as the required and preferred skills for various roles in the education field.

What does a teacher assistant do?

A teacher assistant works closely with a primary teacher in a classroom to provide academic support to the students. The teacher assistant collaborates regularly with the head teacher, helps as needed on a daily basis and may even manage and teach the class when the main teacher is absent. They may work in a classroom in a school district or private early childhood learning facility. A teacher assistant may engage in the following tasks:

  • Help develop lesson plans based on state standards

  • Work with a lead teacher to monitor student development

  • Promote the learning and development of students of various ages and abilities

  • Supervise group activities

  • Prepare the classroom before lessons begin

  • Managing students during outings or sports events

  • Give grades and feedback to students on their assignment

  • Work on a one-on-one basis with students who have difficulty in some topics

  • Communicate with parents about their child's development and any changes or concerns

Foundational skills for a TA

There are various soft skills that are important for a TA to possess, including:

  • Communication skills: Because a TA works directly with teachers and helps students by explaining concepts, it is important that they have strong verbal and written communication skills.

  • Organisational skills: Staying organised is key to find success as a teacher assistant. Set up a routine within the classroom to help with your organisation and help your students know what to expect each day.

  • Dependability: The lead teacher relies on TAs to help them in the classroom and to teach lessons when necessary. A combination of flexibility and dependability will help you provide them with the right assistance.

  • Patience: This is one of the most important skills to have if you are working with children. You may have to calmly speak with the students if they are breaking the rules or not behaving properly. As a TA, you may have to work under pressure and stay positive in difficult situations.

  • Interpersonal skills: As a TA, you work with the lead teacher, students and other coworkers. It is important to have strong interpersonal skills so you can connect with those around you to help provide an open and healthy environment for students.

  • Creative skills: This skill is especially important when you deal with junior students. You may have to develop creative activities and interactive ways to keep them engaged and make learning fun.

Read more: Importance of Soft Skills in the Workplace

Teaching assistant work environment

Teacher assistants typically work in schools, preschools or daycare settings. These can include both public and private schools. Some may be part time, but there are also full-time teacher assistants. If the role is within a school district, the working hours likely depends upon the grade the TA teaches. The schedule may include summers and holidays, but in a childcare setting, it is common to have major holidays off from work. Standing for long hours is common as a teacher assistant, as is having to bend or stoop to interact with children.

Teacher assistant job description example

Our private preschool is looking for a teacher assistant to work closely with the lead teacher in the pre-kindergarten class. In this role, you will assist in creating engaging lesson plans for students that align with state standards and help students develop their skills. You will be responsible for routinely working with students to help them complete their lessons and extend their learning. The classroom has children of all abilities, and creating a nurturing learning environment is a key part of this role. The ideal candidate has a background in early childhood education, enjoys working with children and has an understanding of child development. Excellent communication skills, patience to interact with children and having a creative mind are important as you will be regularly interacting with children, colleagues and guardians. If you enjoy nurturing little lives, please apply.

Read more: 10 Important Skills of a Teacher and How To Develop Them

Frequently asked questions about becoming a teaching assistant

Below are some common questions you may have before deciding to become a TA:

How much does a TA earn?

The average base salary of a teaching assistant is ₹21,065 per month. Your salary may vary depending on if you are working as a TA in a full-time or a part-time role. The salary you earn also depends on your education level, the years of experience you have in the education field and the location of your job. For example, an average base salary of a teaching assistant in Tamil Nadu is ₹25,957 per month, whereas in Karnataka, the average base salary is ₹15,569 per month.

Can I be a TA with no experience?

Becoming a TA with no experience may depend on the requirements of the position you are applying for. If you fulfil the minimum qualifying criteria, you can get a TA job without experience. Also, you may need to fulfil the minimum qualifying criteria set by the state where you are looking for a job. Having experience, even as an intern during your college years, provides an added advantage.

How long does it take to become a teacher assistant?

After completion of the 12th standard in school, you may take two to three years to become a TA. You qualify to get a job in the teaching field if you have a minimum of a diploma in education, which is a two-year course, or have a bachelor's degree, which is a three-year course.

Salary figures mentioned in the article reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at the time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the candidate's experience, hiring organisation, location of the job and academic background.

Related: 39 Common Preschool Teacher Assistant Interview Questions

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