Summary

teacher assistants image
Teacher assistants work under the supervision of a teacher and provide additional attention and instruction to students.
Quick Facts: Teacher Assistants
2016 Median Pay $25,410 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, 2016 1,308,100
Job Outlook, 2016-26 8% (As fast as average)
Employment Change, 2016-26 109,500

What Teacher Assistants Do

Teacher assistants work under a teacher’s supervision to give students additional attention and instruction.

Work Environment

Teacher assistants typically work in public and private schools, at childcare centers, and for religious organizations. About 1 in 3 worked part time in 2016. Most 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 $25,410 in May 2016.

Job Outlook

Employment of teacher assistants is projected to grow 8 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Rising student enrollment along with state and federal funding for education programs should affect growth.

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 About this section

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

Teacher assistants work under a teacher’s supervision to give students additional attention and instruction.

Duties

Teacher assistants typically do the following:

  • Reinforce lessons presented by teachers by reviewing material with students one-on-one or in small groups
  • Enforce school and class rules to teach students proper behavior
  • Help teachers with recordkeeping, such as tracking attendance and calculating grades
  • Set up equipment or get material ready to help teachers prepare for lessons
  • Supervise students in class, 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. Generally, teachers introduce new material to students while teacher assistants help reinforce the lessons by working with individual students or small groups of students. For example, after the teacher presents a lesson, a teacher assistant may help a small group of students as they try to master the material.

Teachers may seek feedback from teacher assistants to monitor students’ progress. Some teachers and teacher assistants meet regularly to discuss lesson plans and students’ development. Teacher assistants sometimes help teachers by grading tests and checking homework.

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

Some teacher assistants work in specific school locations. For example, some work in computer laboratories, teaching students how to use computers and helping them use software. Others work as recess or lunchroom attendants, supervising students during these times.

Although most teacher assistants work in schools, others work in childcare centers. Often, one or two assistants work with a lead teacher to provide the individual 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 About this section

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

Teacher assistants held about 1.3 million jobs in 2016. The largest employers of teacher assistants were as follows:

Elementary and secondary schools; local 69%
Child day care services 10
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. Those who work with special education students may need to lift the students at certain times.

Work Schedules

About 1 in 3 teacher assistants worked part time in 2016. Some ride the bus with students before and after school. Although many do not work during the summer, some work in year-round schools or help teachers in summer school.

Injuries and Illnesses

Teacher assistants have one of the highest rates of injuries and illnesses of all occupations. They actively work with students, including lifting and otherwise assisting special education students, which can place them at risk for injuries such as strains.

How to Become a Teacher Assistant About this section

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

Most school districts require applicants to have completed at least 2 years of college coursework or have earned an associate’s degree. Teacher assistants in schools that have a Title 1 program (a federal program for schools with 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 the participants to develop educational materials, observe students, and understand the role of teachers and teaching assistants in the classroom.

Most states require instructional aides who work with special-needs students to pass a skills-based test.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Teacher assistants need to be able to discuss students’ progress with teachers and parents in an efficient manner.

Interpersonal skills. Teacher assistants interact with a variety of people, including teachers, students, parents, and administrators. They need to be able to develop good relationships with the people they work with.

Patience. Working with students of different abilities and backgrounds can be difficult. Teacher assistants must be patient with students.

Resourcefulness. To reinforce lessons, teacher assistants must explain information to students in a way that meets each student’s learning style.

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/certification.

Pay About this section

Teacher Assistants

Median annual wages, May 2016

Total, all occupations

$37,040

Other education, training, and library occupations

$27,500

Teacher assistants

$25,410

 

The median annual wage for teacher assistants was $25,410 in May 2016. 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 $18,120, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $38,820.

In May 2016, the median annual wages for teacher assistants in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Elementary and secondary schools; local $26,140
Elementary and secondary schools; private 25,300
Child day care services 21,990

About 1 in 3 teacher assistants worked part time in 2016. Some monitor students on school buses before and after school. Although many do not work during the summer, some work in year-round schools or assist teachers in summer school.

Union Membership

Compared with workers in all occupations, teacher assistants had a higher percentage of workers who belonged to a union in 2016.

Job Outlook About this section

Teacher Assistants

Percent change in employment, projected 2016-26

Other education, training, and library occupations

9%

Teacher assistants

8%

Total, all occupations

7%

 

Employment of teacher assistants is projected to grow 8 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations. 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.

Job Prospects

In addition to job openings due to employment growth, numerous openings will arise as assistants leave the occupation and must be replaced. Because of the education requirements and low pay, many workers transfer to other occupations or leave the labor force to take care of family responsibilities, to return to school, or for other reasons.

Employment projections data for teacher assistants, 2016-26
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2016 Projected Employment, 2026 Change, 2016-26 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

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

Teacher assistants

25-9041 1,308,100 1,417,600 8 109,500 employment projections excel document xlsx

State & Area Data About this section

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) 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 About this section

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

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help 2016 MEDIAN PAY Help
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. They teach academic and technical content to provide students with the skills and knowledge necessary to enter an occupation.

Bachelor's degree $54,020
Child care workers

Childcare Workers

Childcare workers attend to the basic needs of children, such as dressing, bathing, feeding, and overseeing play. They may help younger children prepare for kindergarten or assist older children with homework.

High school diploma or equivalent $21,170
High school teachers

High School Teachers

High school teachers help prepare students for life after graduation. They teach academic lessons and various skills that students will need to attend college and to enter the job market.

Bachelor's degree $58,030
Kindergarten and elementary school teachers

Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers

Kindergarten and elementary school teachers instruct young students in basic subjects, such as math and reading, in order to prepare them for future schooling.

Bachelor's degree $55,490
Library technicians and assistants

Library Technicians and Assistants

Library technicians and assistants help librarians with all aspects of running a library. They assist patrons, organize library materials and information, and perform clerical and administrative tasks.

See How to Become One $28,440
Middle school teachers

Middle School Teachers

Middle school teachers educate students, typically in sixth through eighth grades. They help students build on the fundamentals they learned in elementary school and prepare them for the more difficult curriculum they will face in high school.

Bachelor's degree $56,720
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. Occupational therapy assistants are directly involved in providing therapy to patients; occupational therapy aides typically perform support activities. Both assistants and aides work under the direction of occupational therapists.

See How to Become One $56,070
Preschool teachers

Preschool Teachers

Preschool teachers educate and care for children younger than age 5 who have not yet entered kindergarten. They teach language, motor, and social skills to young children.

Associate's degree $28,790
Special education teachers

Special Education Teachers

Special education teachers work with students who have a wide range of learning, mental, emotional, and physical disabilities. They adapt general education lessons and teach various subjects, such as reading, writing, and math, to students with mild and moderate disabilities. They also teach basic skills, such as literacy and communication techniques, to students with severe disabilities.

Bachelor's degree $57,910
Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Teacher Assistants,
on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/teacher-assistants.htm (visited November 28, 2017).

Last Modified Date: Tuesday, October 24, 2017

What They Do

The What They Do tab describes the typical duties and responsibilities of workers in the occupation, including what tools and equipment they use and how closely they are supervised. This tab also covers different types of occupational specialties.

Work Environment

The Work Environment tab includes the number of jobs held in the occupation and describes the workplace, the level of physical activity expected, and typical hours worked. It may also discuss the major industries that employed the occupation. This tab may also describe opportunities for part-time work, the amount and type of travel required, any safety equipment that is used, and the risk of injury that workers may face.

How to Become One

The How to Become One tab describes how to prepare for a job in the occupation. This tab can include information on education, training, work experience, licensing and certification, and important qualities that are required or helpful for entering or working in the occupation.

Pay

The Pay tab describes typical earnings and how workers in the occupation are compensated—annual salaries, hourly wages, commissions, tips, or bonuses. Within every occupation, earnings vary by experience, responsibility, performance, tenure, and geographic area. For most profiles, this tab has a table with wages in the major industries employing the occupation. It does not include pay for self-employed workers, agriculture workers, or workers in private households because these data are not collected by the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey, the source of BLS wage data in the OOH.

State & Area Data

The State and Area Data tab provides links to state and area occupational data from the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program, state projections data from Projections Central, and occupational information from the Department of Labor's CareerOneStop.

Job Outlook

The Job Outlook tab describes the factors that affect employment growth or decline in the occupation, and in some instances, describes the relationship between the number of job seekers and the number of job openings.

Similar Occupations

The Similar Occupations tab describes occupations that share similar duties, skills, interests, education, or training with the occupation covered in the profile.

Contacts for More Information

The More Information tab provides the Internet addresses of associations, government agencies, unions, and other organizations that can provide additional information on the occupation. This tab also includes links to relevant occupational information from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET).

2016 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2016, the median annual wage for all workers was $37,040.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

Work experience in a related occupation

Work experience that is commonly considered necessary by employers, or is a commonly accepted substitute for more formal types of training or education.

Number of Jobs, 2016

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2016, which is the base year of the 2016-26 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2016-26

The projected percent change in employment from 2016 to 2026. The average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent.

Employment Change, 2016-26

The projected numeric change in employment from 2016 to 2026.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Employment Change, projected 2016-26

The projected numeric change in employment from 2016 to 2026.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2016 to 2026.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2016 to 2026.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2016 to 2026.

2016 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2016, the median annual wage for all workers was $37,040.