Teacher aides, also known as teacher assistants, provide support services in the classroom to the teacher. Assistants handle clerical and some instructional support, generally attempting to free the teacher's time for curriculum preparation and teaching. Teacher assistants work with students on a personal basis; situations where a student may need help and the teacher is obligated to move on with the class. They also supervise students in the cafeteria and at recess, assist in preparing classroom materials and set up equipment for classroom presentations.
There is no national standard for education for teachers aides. Some schools accept people for this position who have related experience but no college degree. Standards are tightening however; schools increasingly would like to see an associate's degree or at least some coursework in the field. Teacher assistants working in schools designated as Title I schools, meaning those with a high level of low-income students, must hold an associate's degree. All teacher assistants receive some degree of on-the-job training.
There were 1.3 million teacher assistants working in 2006, according to Department of Labor data. Of these, 75% worked in public and private elementary and secondary schools. The rest were employed by childcare centers, preschools and religious organizations operating educational facilities.
While growth in this position is expected to be average over the next several years, there will be 137,000 positions opening up because of attrition due to retirement. A significant portion of the growth will occur in special education facilities and in classrooms where English is a second language.
Lowest 10% $15,340
Median Salary $22,200
Highest 10% $33,980
Source, U.S. Department of Labor