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Teacher Assistant

If you love children and enjoy helping them learn new skills, consider a position as a teacher assistant. Work under a teacher, giving students additional attention and instruction as you use your patience, leadership and organizational skills, gain experience and determine if a teaching career is right for you.

Teacher assistants may work in public and private schools, child care centers and religious organizations. A teacher assistant may start with a high school diploma at some locations and an associate degree at others. Some states also require a certification. If you move due to a PCS, your service branch can now help reimburse licensure and certification costs up to $1,000. Learn more. Other possible job titles for teacher assistants include teacher aides, instructional aides, paraprofessionals and education assistants.

The median pay for teacher assistants is $26,260 per year, and the field is growing at an average pace. If you are considering a teaching career, working as an assistant will allow you to gain skills and experience working with children. As a parent to preschool or elementary age children, you may enjoy working in your child’s classroom or school, and you may even be eligible for tuition discounts if you are working at a private school or child care center. Part-time positions and positions with summers off may be possible if you are seeking a flexible schedule.

Discovering your passion

As part of the military community, you may be aware of the unique challenges military children face and how important it is to their well-being to have caring teachers and teacher assistants. Working as a teacher assistant will allow you to use your personal understanding to relate to these children in the classroom environment in the following ways:

  • Using your skills to motivate and provide encouragement
  • Learning to remain patient and calm under pressure
  • Practicing your tact and sensitivity to guide and discipline in a variety of situations
  • Enjoying the opportunity to use your creativity daily
  • Communicating with teachers, and children who develop and learn at varying speeds

Education and training

You may need an associate degree or a certification to be eligible for some teacher assistant positions. If to earn a degree and money to pay for your education are concerns, think about completing a two-year associate degree that can transfer toward your bachelor’s degree when you’re ready. With an associate degree, you should be able to find employment and start building your teaching knowledge and business expertise. See if you are eligible for My Career Advancement Account Scholarship assistance or use the Scholarship Finder on MySECO to find additional funding to assist you with your education.

Finding employment

One of the first places to look for jobs is the Military Spouse Employment Partnership Job Search. Hundreds of partner employers have made the commitment to recruit, hire, promote and retain military spouses in portable careers.

Be sure to also look for open teacher assistant positions within the Department of Defense child and youth programs. As one of the largest child care providers in the United States with more than 850 facilities on installations worldwide, the Department of Defense may provide the employment opportunity you’re looking for, with competitive pay and benefits. 

Make sure you have the correct type of resume when applying for these positions. Talk to your installation service provider or call Military OneSource at 800-342-9647 and speak with a SECO career coach for resume assistance. Search and apply for positions through the USAJOBS website and your service branch.

Professional organizations, networking and volunteering 

You may wish to consider joining a professional organization in your career field to gain a better understanding of current industry trends in teaching. Professional organizations are great ways to continue your education through workshops and conferences, which will add to your transferable skill set as you move. Networking with other professionals in your industry will give you an edge in meeting the right people who may have the connections you need to obtain an interview or restart your career at your new location. They may provide important information about the teaching field, such as new technology, continuing education, teaching ideas and plans, job requirements, employers and more. Read The Value of Professional Associations for more information on how becoming a member can help enhance your career.

Consider volunteering, if possible, or finding an internship and continue to proactively network to build contacts and experience in this field. Start with family, friends, coworkers and all others by telling everyone about the career you are targeting and asking for contact suggestions in the field to continue to build and expand your network.

Next steps

To learn more about teacher assistant careers, review the Research Occupations tool on MySECO and investigate your options. Take self-assessments to make sure your skills and interests align with your career choice. Talk to others in the field and get their feedback. Call Military OneSource at 800-342-9647 and speak with a SECO career coach to discuss career or education choices, searching for a job or overcoming challenges. Coaches are available to review your resume, practice interviewing, discuss networking or assist you in understanding employer requirements for this field. You can also use the Live Chat feature on MySECO for additional guidance. 

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