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What Certificate Do You Need to Become a Teacher’s Assistant?

If you’re patient, compassionate and relate well to children, you might already be thinking about working in childhood education. A teacher’s assistant is a paraprofessional who supports the lead teacher in a classroom. The degrees and certifications to become a teacher’s assistant are different than the requirements to become a teacher. If you’d like to pursue a career as a teacher’s assistant, here’s what you need to know to prepare yourself.

Do You Need a Degree to Become a Teacher’s Assistant?

Every state is different when it comes to degree, licensure and certification requirements for teacher’s assistants. At minimum, you’ll need to graduate from high school or obtain your GED. In some states, however, some college coursework or an associate’s degree is required. The requirements also differ for private and public schools in each state.

Earning a degree enhances your skills, improving your chances of getting a job. Additional certifications and degrees can also help you stand out from the competition when you’re looking for work.

Associate’s Degree

Many school districts require assistant teachers to hold an associate’s degree or be working toward one. If they don’t, they may require teacher’s assistants to have 48 semester hours of coursework. In many cases, it makes sense to work toward a degree if you’re completing the educational requirements anyway.

An associate’s degree in the following areas can provide you with the knowledge and experience that will help you succeed in your job:

• Education

• Assistant teaching

• Child development

• Early childhood education

Bachelor’s Degree

Pursuing another degree can help your chances of getting hired as an assistant teacher. A four-year program from an accredited university can help you gain additional skills that you’ll need in the field.

You can choose from a Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts degree. The most relevant specializations include child development, education or early childhood education. A bachelor’s degree program may help you network, get an internship or find a job. The additional years of experience may give you an edge compared with candidates with an associate’s degree.

Is a Master’s Degree Worth it for Teacher’s Assistants?

If you’re interested in working with children in kindergarten through 12th grade, you don’t need a master’s degree to get a job. However, if you want to work as a teaching assistant at a university or institute of higher education, you’ll need to be enrolled in a master’s degree program. Becoming a graduate teacher’s assistant is an ideal opportunity for someone who wants to go into academics and work with older students.

Additional Certifications for Teacher’s Assistants

Besides the certifications that are required for your state, you may wish to earn additional certifications. These may provide extra training and demonstrate your commitment to the job. Additional certifications can also increase your earning potential. You may also be required to take continuing education courses or enroll in professional development programs to keep your skills fresh for the job.

Some additional certifications for teacher’s assistants include:

• Early childhood teacher certification

• Special education certification

• English as a second language certification

• Bilingual education certification

Is There a Proficiency Exam for Teacher’s Assistants?

Schools that receive Title I funds require teachers to take a proficiency exam to qualify them for the position. These exams are different in distinct districts. However, they all assess your strengths in the areas that are necessary for providing education to students.

These exams also give the school an objective way of evaluating your foundational knowledge and skills. They typically test your proficiency in reading, writing and applied mathematics.

To get a certificate after taking the test, you may have to be observed in the classroom. This assesses your performance in the field. Depending on the state in which you work, you may also need to renew the certification by taking the test again within a specified number of years.

What Skills Should a Teacher’s Assistant Have?

In addition to getting a formal education and passing the required exams, you’ll need to have several soft skills to be an effective teacher’s assistant.

Communication Skills

The teacher’s assistant often serves as a liaison between the lead teacher and administrators. This position is also required to convey information from the lead teacher to the students. You’ll need strong communication skills to facilitate these interactions.

Understanding child development is essential when it comes to communicating with students. The brain doesn’t develop fully until around age 25. Younger students don’t have the same capacity for rational thinking and executive functioning as older students. Therefore, you’ll need to adjust your communication style based on the types of students with which you work.


Although you will adhere to a general schedule, you’ll need to be flexible to work as a teacher’s assistant. Children can be unpredictable, and anything can happen in the classroom. Furthermore, you’ll often work with children who have varying levels of proficiency. You must adapt to adequately provide each child with the education that they need.


Teacher’s assistants often help to lead classrooms of more than 20 students along with the lead teacher. That’s a lot of kids to keep up with. You’ll have to deal with behavioral issues at the same time as you facilitate an educational work flow. Monitoring the children while you’re completing a lesson plan or performing organizational activities is a major part of the job. Mastering multitasking helps you enhance your flexibility and time-management skills.

Love of Learning

Your own capacity for learning new things is essential in the role of a teacher’s assistant. You’ll undergo on-the-job training when you start working at a new school. You’ll need to understand the administrative aspects of the environment as well as educational standards. You may use novel teaching styles or have to work with technology. It’s fair to say that a teacher’s assistant learns as much as the students every day.

Ready to start your journey?

Ready to start your journey?