Bureau of Labor Statistics

Teacher Assistants

teacher assistants image
Teacher assistants work under the supervision of a teacher and provide additional attention and instruction to students.
Quick Facts: Teacher Assistants
2020 Median Pay $28,900 per year
Typical Entry-Level Education Some college, no degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2020 1,306,300
Job Outlook, 2020-30 9% (As fast as average)
Employment Change, 2020-30 116,000

Summary

What Teacher Assistants Do

Teacher assistants work with a licensed teacher to give students additional attention and instruction.

Work Environment

Teacher assistants typically work in schools, at childcare centers, and for religious organizations. Most work full time, although part-time work is common. They generally do not work during the summer.

How to Become a Teacher Assistant

Teacher assistants typically need to have completed at least 2 years of college coursework.

Pay

The median annual wage for teacher assistants was $28,900 in May 2020.

Job Outlook

Employment of teacher assistants is projected to grow 9 percent from 2020 to 2030, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

About 136,400 openings for teacher assistants are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for teacher assistants.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of teacher assistants with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about teacher assistants by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Teacher Assistants Do

Teacher assistants
Some teacher assistants work exclusively with special education students who attend traditional classes.

Teacher assistants work with a licensed teacher to give students additional attention and instruction.

Duties

Teacher assistants typically do the following:

  • Reinforce lessons by reviewing material with students one-on-one or in small groups
  • Follow school and class rules to teach students proper behavior
  • Help teachers with recordkeeping, such as taking attendance and calculating grades
  • Get equipment or materials ready to help teachers prepare for lessons
  • Supervise students outside of the classroom, such as between classes, during lunch and recess, and on field trips

Teacher assistants also are called teacher aides, instructional aides, paraprofessionals, education assistants, and paraeducators.

Teacher assistants work with or under the guidance of a licensed teacher. Reviewing with students individually or in small groups, teacher assistants help reinforce the lessons that teachers introduce.

Teacher assistants may provide feedback to teachers for monitoring student progress. Some teacher assistants meet regularly with teachers to discuss lesson plans and students’ development.

Some teacher assistants work only with special education students.  When special education students attend regular classes, these teacher assistants help them understand the material and adapt the information to their learning style. Teacher assistants may also work with students who have severe disabilities in separate classrooms. They help these students with basic needs, such as eating or personal hygiene. Teacher assistants may help young adults with disabilities to learn skills necessary for finding a job or living independently after graduation.

Some teacher assistants help in specific areas. For example, they may work in a computer laboratory, helping students use programs or software. Others may work as cafeteria attendants, supervising students during lunchtime.

Teacher assistants in childcare centers work with a lead teacher to provide individualized attention that young children need. They help with educational activities, supervise the children at play, and help with feeding and other basic care.

Work Environment

Teacher assistants
Some teacher assistants work in specific locations within schools, such as libraries.

Teacher assistants held about 1.3 million jobs in 2020. The largest employers of teacher assistants were as follows:

Elementary and secondary schools; local 71%
Child day care services 9
Elementary and secondary schools; private 8

Teacher assistants may spend some time outside, when students are at recess or getting on and off the bus. They may need to lift the students at certain times.

Injuries and Illnesses

Teacher assistants sometimes get injured on the job. They actively work with students, including lifting and otherwise assisting special education students, which can place them at risk for injuries such as strains.

Work Schedules

Most teacher assistants work full time, although part-time work is common. Some monitor students on school buses before and after school. Many teacher assistants do not work during the summer; however, some work in year-round schools or assist teachers in summer school.

How to Become a Teacher Assistant

Teacher assistants
Teacher assistants reinforce lessons presented in class by reviewing material with students one-on-one or in small groups.

Teacher assistants typically need to have completed at least 2 years of college coursework.

Education

Teacher assistants in public schools need at least 2 years of college coursework or an associate’s degree. Those who work in schools with a Title 1 program (a federal program for schools that have a large proportion of students from low-income households) must have at least a 2-year degree, 2 years of college, or pass a state or local assessment.

Associate’s degree programs for teacher assistants prepare participants to develop educational materials, observe students, and understand the role of teaching assistants in working with classroom teachers.

Most states require teacher assistants who work with special-needs students to pass a skills test.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Some jobs may require staff to have certifications in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and first aid.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Teacher assistants need to be clear and concise in discussing student progress with teachers and parents.

Interpersonal skills. Teacher assistants must be able to develop relationships with a variety of people, including teachers, students, parents, and administrators.

Patience. Working with students of different abilities and backgrounds may be difficult. Teacher assistants must be understanding with students.

Resourcefulness. Teacher assistants must find ways to explain information to students who have different learning styles.

Advancement

Teacher assistants may become a kindergarten and elementary school teacher, middle school teacher, high school teacher, or special education teacher upon obtaining additional education, training, and a license or certification.

Pay

Teacher Assistants

Median annual wages, May 2020

Total, all occupations

$41,950

Other educational instruction and library occupations

$30,970

Teaching assistants, except postsecondary

$28,900

 

The median annual wage for teacher assistants was $28,900 in May 2020. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $19,610, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $44,290.

In May 2020, the median annual wages for teacher assistants in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Elementary and secondary schools; local $29,320
Elementary and secondary schools; private 29,100
Child day care services 25,590

Most teacher assistants work full time, although part-time work is common. Some monitor students on school buses before and after school. Many teacher assistants do not work during the summer; however, some work in year-round schools or assist teachers in summer school.

Job Outlook

Teacher Assistants

Percent change in employment, projected 2020-30

Other educational instruction and library occupations

9%

Teaching assistants, except postsecondary

9%

Total, all occupations

8%

 

Employment of teacher assistants is projected to grow 9 percent from 2020 to 2030, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

About 136,400 openings for teacher assistants are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Employment

Rising student enrollment along with state and federal funding for education programs should affect growth.

Teacher assistants are more of a supplementary position, as opposed to teachers, who hold a primary position. Therefore, teacher assistants’ employment opportunities may depend on school districts’ budgets. Schools are more likely to eliminate teacher assistant positions rather than teacher positions when there is a budget shortfall and more likely to hire teacher assistants when there is a budget surplus.

Employment projections data for teacher assistants, 2020-30

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Occupational Title

Teaching assistants, except postsecondary

SOC Code25-9045
Employment, 20201,306,300
Projected Employment, 20301,422,300
Percent Change, 2020-309
Numeric Change, 2020-30116,000
Employment by IndustryGet data

State & Area Data

Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS)

The Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of teacher assistants.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION 2020 MEDIAN PAY
Career and technical education teachers Career and Technical Education Teachers

Career and technical education teachers instruct students in various technical and vocational subjects, such as auto repair, healthcare, and culinary arts.

Bachelor's degree $59,140
Child care workers Childcare Workers

Childcare workers attend to children's needs while helping to foster early development.

High school diploma or equivalent $25,460
High school teachers High School Teachers

High school teachers teach academic lessons and various skills that students will need to attend college and to enter the job market.

Bachelor's degree $62,870
Kindergarten and elementary school teachers Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers

Kindergarten and elementary school teachers instruct young students in basic subjects in order to prepare them for future schooling.

Bachelor's degree $60,660
Library technicians and assistants Library Technicians and Assistants

Library technicians and assistants help librarians with all aspects of running a library.

See How to Become One $31,840
Middle school teachers Middle School Teachers

Middle school teachers educate students, typically in sixth through eighth grades.

Bachelor's degree $60,810
Occupational therapy assistants and aides Occupational Therapy Assistants and Aides

Occupational therapy assistants and aides help patients develop, recover, improve, as well as maintain the skills needed for daily living and working.

See How to Become One $60,950
Preschool teachers Preschool Teachers

Preschool teachers educate and care for children younger than age 5 who have not yet entered kindergarten.

Associate's degree $31,930
Special education teachers Special Education Teachers

Special education teachers work with students who have a wide range of learning, mental, emotional, and physical disabilities.

Bachelor's degree $61,500

Contacts for More Info

Last Modified Date: Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Teacher Assistants,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/teacher-assistants.htm (visited October 17, 2021).

Telephone: 1-202-691-5700 www.bls.gov/ooh Contact OOH

View this page on regular www.bls.gov

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