Is a teaching assistant career right for you?
It pretty much goes without saying that to enjoy a career as a teaching assistant, you have to like working with kids! As a teacher’s aide, you’ll be assisting teaching staff with general classroom duties, so you’ll be working with children from different backgrounds and with all different kinds of personalities and needs. For this reason, you’ll need to be patient and dedicated, with a genuine passion for assisting students in their education and development.
Teaching assistants need to have great communication and active listening skills to work effectively with students and teachers alike. You’ll also need to be comfortable instructing people, taking charge of a situation and supervising large groups of students in the classroom environment.
Many teaching assistants work with students who have learning or behavioural difficulties, and/or with Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and Maori individuals or small groups. Patience, understanding and a high level of empathy are required to provide adequate learning and social development support to these groups.
Good news for aspiring teaching assistants: this is a very large industry in Australia that’s set to experience very strong growth over the next few years! Here are some facts and stats about teaching assistant careers:
- According to the government’s Job Outlook initiative, more than 92,000 teaching assistants are currently employed throughout Australia, with this number expected to grow to almost 115,000 by 2022.
- 91,000 job openings in this industry are likely over the next few years.
- Around 73% of teaching assistants work part-time.
- According to Payscale, the average salary for a teaching assistant ranges from around $50,000 to the upper $60,000s.
Types of courses
There are a variety of courses you can undertake if you’re wishing to enter the education industry as a teaching assistant. Offered Australia-wide, these range from short courses through to more comprehensive Certificate-level courses.
Usually conducted over a matter of weeks or months, teaching assistant short courses are a great entry-level qualification for those wishing to get a start in this profession. In a short course, you’ll learn the basics of assisting with lesson preparation, working with students and providing support within the learning environment.
A Certificate III course will enable you to develop a comprehensive knowledge and skill base to help you become a teacher’s aide. A nationally recognised Certificate III qualification covers key areas such as numeracy, literacy and language skill development, education resourcing and planning, and health, safety and legality in the education environment. If you wish to specialise in teaching assistance in the early childhood education sector, there are other relevant courses available at this level as well.
A Certificate IV course provides the most comprehensive education for teaching assistants, and also allows those currently working in education support roles to advance their careers. Certificate IV courses provide a solid foundation of skills and knowledge in a wide variety of areas, from different classroom environments and learning approaches to support of students with disabilities.
As a qualified teaching assistant, you might work in a classroom environment at any level of education, from preschool/early childhood education to a primary or high school. Potential job titles include:
- Education Support Worker
- Education Officer
- Special Needs Support Worker
- Teacher's Aide
- Teaching Assistant
- Education Assistant
- Learning Support Assistant
- Special Needs School Assistant
- Child Care Assistant
- Outside School Hours Aide
- Pre-school Assistant