Teacher Aides


Education and Training Requirements

High School

Courses in English, history, social studies, mathematics, art, drama, physical education, and the sciences will provide a broad base of knowledge. This knowledge will enable you to help students learn in these same subjects. Knowledge of a second language can be an asset, especially when working in schools with bilingual student, parent, or staff populations. Courses in child care, family and consumer science, and psychology are also valuable for this career. Gain some experience working with computers; students at many elementary schools and even preschools do a large amount of computer work, and computer skills are important in performing clerical duties.

Postsecondary Training

Postsecondary requirements for teacher aides depend on the school or school district and the kinds of responsibilities the aides have. In districts where aides perform mostly clerical duties, applicants may need only to have a high school diploma or a general equivalency diploma (GED). Those who work in the classroom may be required to take some college courses and attend in-service training and special teacher conferences and seminars. Some schools and districts may help you pay some of the costs involved in attending these programs. Often community and junior colleges have certificate and associate's programs that prepare teacher aides for classroom work, offering courses in child development, health and safety, and child guidance.

Newly hired aides participate in orientation sessions and formal training at the school. In these sessions, aides learn about the school's organization, operation, and philosophy. They learn how to keep school records, operate audiovisual equipment, check books out of the library, and administer first aid.

Many schools prefer to hire teacher aides who have some experience working with children; some schools prefer to hire workers who live within the school district. Schools may also require that you pass written exams and health physicals. Teacher aides must be able to work effectively with both children and adults and should have good verbal and written communication skills.

Other Education or Training

Childhood Education International offers professional development courses to its members. Teacher aides can also seek out continuing education opportunities via professional education associations at the state and local levels.  

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

Most states now have core performance, skills, and competency standards for education paraprofessionals, including voluntary certification, based on the 2001 federal No Child Left Behind Act. Requirements vary by state and by school, so teacher aides must find out the specific job requirements for the school, school district, or state department of education in the area where they want to work. It is important to remember that an aide who is qualified to work in one state, or even one school, may not be qualified to work in another. The National Resource Center for Paraeducators provides state certification information on its Web site: https://www.nrcpara.org/states.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Experience working at a day care center or caring for younger siblings is highly recommended for aspiring teacher aides.

Teacher aides must enjoy working with children and be able to handle their demands, problems, and questions with patience and fairness. They must be willing and able to follow instructions, but also should be able to take the initiative in projects. Flexibility, creativity, and a cheerful outlook are definite assets for anyone working with children.