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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. Other possible job titles for teacher assistants include teacher aides, instructional aides, paraprofessionals and education assistants.

The median pay is $25,410 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 are probably 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 on a daily basis
  • Communicating with teachers, parents 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 time 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, particularly if you are eligible for My Career Advancement Account Scholarship assistance. With an associate degree, you should be able to find employment and start building your teaching knowledge and business expertise. Use the Scholarship Finder to see if you can 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.

Child and Youth Development Program Assistant positions are available worldwide with the Department of Defense Child and Youth Development System. Candidates must have a high school diploma or GED and be at least 18 years old, with relevant experience preferred. Primary responsibilities of these positions include the following:

  • Preparing lesson plans and implementing program activities that support children’s physical, social, emotional, and intellectual development
  • Maintaining control of, and accounting for, the whereabouts and safety of children and youth
  • Supervising children and youth during the daily schedule of indoor and outdoor activities, on field trips, outings and special events

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

Professional organizations, networking and volunteering

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, co-workers 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.

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.

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 800-342-9647 and speak with a 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.

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