Teaching and Education

How to Become a Teaching Assistant?

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A teaching assistant could be the perfect profession for you if you’re sensitive, able to build good relationships with children and looking forward to starting a successful career. For example, a TA (teaching assistant) assists the trained school teacher in the classroom.

TA is often referred to as the ‘backbone’ of a school. They offer a unique position to students with additional help and support. There are several ways of qualifying as a teaching assistant. Read the blog thoroughly to understand how to become a teaching assistant, the required qualifications, salary to expect and much more!

What Are the Teaching Assistant’s Roles and Responsibilities?

A teaching assistant works in secondary or primary schools in the UK. They are sometimes referred to as classroom assistants. Teaching assistants are classroom support staff who provide extra guidance to students and class teachers. They have vast roles and responsibilities.

The Role of a Teaching Assistant

Different roles performed by the teaching assistant include:

  • Delivering efficient learning activities in small group and one-to-one settings
  • Engaging pupils in various active learning
  • Monitoring tasks during activities
  • Supporting students in their social and emotional development
  • Managing challenging behaviour
  • Guiding and monitoring student’s progress
  • Being part of extracurricular activities

Responsibilities of a Teaching assistant

A teaching assistant is responsible for:

  • Following instructions given by teachers.
  • Assisting teachers with preparing lesson materials and equipment.
  • Providing a healthy and safe environment for children.
  • Ensuring safeguarding and child protection procedures.
  • Setting up classrooms and equipment for lessons.
  • Tidying up after class and preparing for the next activity
  • Creating displays of students’ work.
  • Arranging resources for teachers to use in their lessons.
  • Supporting teachers with the delivery of lessons.
  • Providing additional help to pupils with special needs.
  • Motivating, engaging and encouraging pupils.
  • Support teachers manage any problematic situation in the classroom.
  • Promote good behaviour and children’s independence.
  • Helping pupils’ to take control of their learning.
  • Leading classes under the supervision of teachers.
  • Caring for injured pupils, upset and unwell, including administering first aid where applicable.
  • Supporting other school activities, e.g. outings, sports events, breakfast and after-school clubs, revision sessions and playtime.
  • Attending meetings and participating in training.
  • Tracking accurate records of pupils’ progress and development and reporting any issues to teachers.
  • Assisting in assessing and marking pupils’ work.

A music teacher teaching music to a group of kids with various musical instruments in hand

A higher-level teaching assistant does some additional responsibilities, for example:

  • Helping teachers plan and prepare lessons.
  • Assisting in developing specialist curriculum areas.
  • Delivering lessons alone whilst teachers are busy or absent.
  • Monitoring and evaluating students’ learning methods.
  • Providing feedback to pupils on their progress and weakness.
  • Liaising with parents/guardians for children-related specific issues.

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How to Become A Teaching Assistant?

Explore the different ways to become a teaching assistant. You can get into this job through:

  • A college course
  • An apprenticeship
  • Volunteering
  • Applying directly

College: You can take college qualifications to get started, for example:

  • Level 2 or 3 Certificate in Supporting Teaching and Learning in School.
  • Level 3 Diploma in Childcare and Education
  • T Level in Education and Childcare

Entry requirements: You may need:

  • 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D), or equivalent, for a level 2 course
  • 4 or 5 GCSEs in grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, for a level 3 course
  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or similar, including English and maths for a T level

Apprenticeship: You can do an advanced internship.

Entry requirements: You’ll usually need:

  • 5 GCSEs in grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship

Volunteering: You could get experience by volunteering in a local school or community organisation. Sometimes it leads to paid work or a chance to gain relevant qualifications.

Direct Application: You can apply directly for jobs through schools, local authorities and academy trusts. Each school sets its entry requirements, though you’ll usually need GCSEs grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) in English and maths.

You can show your work experience with children, teachers and parents. For example, a qualification in nursery work, childcare, playwork or youth work can give you an advance.

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What Qualifications Are Needed to Be A Teaching Assistant?

To be a successful teaching assistant, you can attain many specific qualifications. Individual schools set their entry requirements for teaching assistant roles in terms of skills, experiences and qualifications, which can vary.

Getting a degree is not typically required to become a TA. Still, a certificate and experience in related areas can help secure a role.

Examples of essential qualifications are as follows:

  • Level 1: Preparing to Work in Schools
  • Level 2: Support Work in Schools
  • Level 3: Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools.

Many of these qualifications involve working and gaining experience, which prepares you for a career as a teaching assistant. They can be a helpful stepping stone to achieving your goal.

Work Experience Needed to Be A Teaching Assistant

Teaching assistant posts are highly competitive, so you must have some relevant work experience. You can gain experience by working in:

  • Childcare
  • Educational settings
  • Nurseries
  • Sports activities
  • Summer camps
  • Tutoring
  • Youth work.
  • Volunteer

One of the best ways to gather relevant classroom experience is to volunteer within a local school for a few hours per week. Many schools welcome volunteer work. Contact them directly and provide support on your preferred subjects, such as literacy, IT or after-school clubs.

You can have another practical experience by participating in your university’s student ambassador role. It typically involves working part-time to promote higher education and a specific subject area in local schools. Get in touch with your careers service for advice on volunteer or paid opportunities working with children and young people.

How Long Does It Take to Become A Teaching Assistant?

Typically teacher assistants need two years to complete college coursework or earn an associate’s degree. Colleges offer various training or certificate programmes at different times. However, you have the flexibility to join the class from anywhere.

To take most courses, participants must complete at least one course every 12 months. You can even join an online course at your convenience. If you are already in a post, your employer may allow you to take a class and complete it.

A young female teacher sitting at her desk with lots of teaching tools in the classroom

Steps of Becoming A Teaching Assistant

The most common steps being a TA are-

  • Achieve your high school diploma or equivalent degree.
  • Obtain a college degree in education.
  • Enrol in higher education to apply for a college-level TA position.
  • Get the certifications required in your state.
  • Volunteer or intern at a school.

Above all, some additional facts you must take care of, as follows-

Identify the Skills That You Need

Teaching assistants are expected to be patient, not only with students but also with their skill development process.

Being patient involves not assuming you know everything there is to know but acknowledging that becoming an influential teacher takes time and effort.

  • An Ability to Work Under Pressure.
  • Adaptability
  • Leadership
  • Communication
  • Industry Awareness
  • Professionalism
  • Collaboration

Take a Course That Perfectly Fits You

Once employed, you’ll typically take an induction course, followed by ongoing teaching assistant training and development. It usually consists of a mixture of in-house and externally-led training courses.

Areas of training can include:

  • Working with pupils with specific learning difficulties or disabilities, such as dyslexia, autism or motor skills
  • Supporting English as an additional language (EAL) pupils
  • Supporting gifted and talented pupils
  • Engaging students with emotional and behavioural difficulties
  • Promoting inclusive learning environments for students
  • Child protection policies and procedures

Professional development is generally encouraged, and you’ll usually complete the qualifications and training needed to progress. These can include Level 2 and 3 qualifications in supporting teaching and learning if you don’t already have one completed while working in a learning environment.

With experience, you can take a Level 4 Certificate for the Advanced Practitioner in Schools and Colleges. This work-based qualification provides opportunities to develop skills in leadership, mentoring and coaching.

Experienced teaching assistants with the right skills and experience can apply for higher-level teaching assistant (HTLA) status to meet the national standards. However, there is no official requirement for a qualification to be an HLTA. For more information, you can see the HLTA National Assessment Partnership.

A young woman working on a laptop and taking notes at home

Take part in the Licensing Exam

Search your state or country’s official education website for the required exam. Register for the exam through the website and submit the appropriate documents, such as your student transcripts. Some teaching assistant positions may also require additional certificates in childcare or first aid.

For Certification and exams, you have to pay a fee; for example, in New York, the exam to become a TA costs $71.

Career Prospects of A Teaching Assistant

Working as a TA can also be an excellent stepping stone toward becoming a teacher. The role will provide you with a realistic and practical insight into a teacher without the responsibility of being one. With experience, you may take a course to become a higher-level teaching assistant (HLTA).

With further study, you could become a fully qualified teacher. There is also scope to coordinate activities in specialist areas of support or curriculum learning, such as SEN, literacy or IT.

Some teaching assistants go on to train as teachers. But having experience as a teaching assistant means that you are well-placed to be accepted on a foundation degree course and can take over the class.

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Salary and Working Hours of A Teaching Assistant

Salary and working hours are the most common questions of any employee. Below these two are described-

Salary: The pay scale for TA is not nationally decided by the Department for Education, UK. The average salary for a TA is around £11,000 per year. Teaching assistants often work part-time hours, so the wage depends on the number of hours you work, your experience and your qualifications.

Some schools and local authorities pay teaching assistants on a term-time scale. That means you receive a set percentage of the salary for a full-time role but are paid 12 monthly instalments throughout the year. As per NCS, the average wage (a year)-

  • Starter- £12,621
  • Experienced- £23,000

Working Hour: The working hours for a teaching assistant are generally early morning to mid-afternoon, Monday-Friday and during term time. The exact hours depend on the schools you’re working at. Your school may require you to attend training days and evening events. According to NCS, typical hours (a week)-

  • 32 to 40 hours during term-time.
  • Occasionally work in the evenings.

Some schools offer activities during the summer holidays, which you could choose to participate in. You typically receive pay for these summer activities and your regular salary. The school holidays also mean that school administrators typically restrict time off during term.

How StudyPlex Can Help You To Become A Teaching Assistant?

Studyplex offers an exclusive approach to becoming a teaching assistant through their designed courses. These programmes perfectly support graduates in taking their first steps into a career as a TA.

Getting certified and having adequate knowledge and skills show the employer your confidence and commitment to your role. Professional certification courses also enhance your ability to earn more and quickly advance the promotion ladder.

StudyPlex offers a range of comprehensive studies. It covers the essentials from SEN teachings and diplomas. It will help you to start your career in the education industry. Additional benefits include:

  • Unlimited lifetime access
  • Instructor-led distance learning
  • Get trained by industry experts
  • 24/7 student support system
  • Learn at your own pace and at leisure
  • Productive training, written and designed by certified professionals
  • Get Certified –
    • CPD and IPHM Accredited Certificate of Achievement
    • Endorsed Certificate from Quality Licence Scheme
  • Earn industry-recognised credentials to demonstrate your new skills and add extra value to your CV
  • Equip yourself with the essential skills, confidence and competence to assist you in your chosen industry

After completing these introductory courses, you will be much more ambitious and proactive. This professional development will make you an asset to the school you work at.

A child is learning to count with her teacher at home


Is Being A Teaching Assistant Worth It?

The role of a teaching assistant is fundamental in schools across the country. Ensure daily classroom activities smoothly by providing one-on-one help to children who need extra support.

In recent years, teaching assistants have become more and more prominent in UK schools. They have now valued personnel alongside teachers and other staff members.

If you’re wondering whether a career as a teaching assistant is right for you, get together the following benefits.

  • Salary
  • Job Satisfaction
  • Career Progression
  • Make something creative
  • Respect and honour
  • A builder of children’s future
  • Able to face any difficulty
  • Teach how to calm down the challenging situation
  • Increase your general and current knowledge
  • Make your more ambitious and competent


Hope the blog gives you a fruitful outline of your required knowledge regarding how to become a teaching assistant and how you can get the role. As a TA, you can add your potential to educational institutes’ by educating children.

You can get a closer insight into the children’s lives and teach them to be on their best behaviour. As a TA you can share your expertise and skills to help students grow and learn. This will help the students become active members of today’s global society.

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