Do you lack a teaching degree or license but love working with young learners? If so, you may want to become a substitute teacher or a teacher aide. Teacher aides–also called classroom aides or teaching paraprofessionals— assist licensed teachers in their classrooms.
What Level of Education Do You Need to Become a Teacher Aide?
In most states, you only need a high school diploma. However, in more competitive job markets, it can help to have an associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree. Applicants to teacher/classroom aide jobs may also be more competitive if they have certifications in areas related to care-giving. This would include certifications such as CPR, first aid, lifeguard, and certified nursing assistant–just to name a few.
There’s also a good chance you will be required to take some sort of class. Different states have different training requirements, so aide qualification courses can range from a few hours to a few weeks in length. Usually, these classes are administered by the state you’re in or the school district that hires you. These courses can also be taken after you’re hired.
What Kind of Work Experience Do You Need?
Most states have no specific requirements for work experience prior to becoming a classroom paraprofessional. However, certain kinds of aide positions may require past experience. When a school district posts a special education teacher’s aide job, for instance, they might ask for applicants who have experience working with the disabled or experience in crisis intervention.
Any experience working with children is a huge plus as well. Schools love to hire aides who have past work experience in child care. Past experience as a daycare center worker, nanny, babysitter, or stay-at-home parent are all smiled upon by schools that need teacher’s aides.
Do You Need Any Kind of Certificate to Become a Teacher’s Aide?
You will need certification to become a teacher’s aide, but you won’t need a full teaching certificate. And the certification process for teacher’s aides is faster and easier than a regular teacher certification. You also won’t need the certification to actually start work. Teacher certification, and any testing or classes associated with it, can be completed after you’re hired.
Do You Need to Pass a Test to Become a Teacher’s Aide?
Many school districts don’t require their aides to take a standardized test. But there are also quite a few school districts and states that do have testing requirements. This usually means taking the Praxis ParaPro.
Where Can You Find Teacher Aide Jobs, and What Kinds of Positions Are Available?
School districts hire aides on a regular basis, and you can find vacancies on any school district website. You can also look on the U.S. government’s official federal job board for aide positions on military bases. (These positions are listed as “educational aide,” and they are the best paid teacher’s aide jobs out there.)
Teacher’s aide jobs in special education are usually the most plentiful jobs, and openings for teacher aides in ESL , kindergarten, and elementary classrooms are also quite common. But aide positions in some other content areas are available, too. To give just one example, the school district I live in just posted an opening for a teacher’s aide in a high school drama classroom!