How to become a teaching assistant with no experience
Updated 25 September 2023
A woman in a pink blouse writes on a whiteboard, next to text that says, "Tips for finding
teaching assistant jobs" and a list of the following tips:
Customize your CV for the employer
Highlight your relevant skills
Consider paid internships
Attend career and job fairs
A teaching assistant works in a classroom, usually under the supervision of a teacher. It can be a very rewarding role for someone who loves working with children and enjoys teaching. If you're interested in becoming a teaching assistant but have no relevant teaching experience, there are a few ways in which you can still become one. In this article, we discuss how to become a teaching assistant with no experience and enlist the skills required for the role.
What is a teaching assistant?
A teaching assistant works in a classroom and assists a teacher in educating children and supports them in non-teaching tasks. They give extra attention to students and help teachers with lessons and supervision. Teaching assistants may sometimes have the title of teacher's aide, paraprofessional or para-educator. It is important to note that a teaching assistant is not a teacher, but they do help with teaching. A teaching assistant is not the same as a graduate TA, which is someone is works in a university under a professor. Here are some of the duties of a teaching assistant:
review lessons, homework and assignments
provide a safe learning environment
maintain student records
prepare lesson plans and activities
assist students with special needs
teach hygiene, discipline and moral values
escort students between classes and during lunch breaks
support teachers with administrative tasks
How to become a teaching assistant with no experience
If you think the role of a teaching assistant is the right fit for you but you don't have the relevant experience, there are many ways to become a teacher's assistant without the required qualification or experience. Since this job is a supportive role for teachers, it has relatively lesser entry barriers. Here are some ways in which you can become a teaching assistant without prior experience:
1. Complete a college course
One way of becoming a teaching assistant is to obtain the right qualification at college. You can opt to take a Level 2 or Level 3 course in childcare and education. The other option is to achieve a T level in education. To be accepted into a level 3 course, you'll require 4 or 5 GCSEs (grades A* to C) and two or more GCSEs for a level 2 course. Similarly, for a T level, you may require 4 or 5 GCSEs or the equivalent, including mandatory subjects like English and maths.
2. Undertake an internship or apprenticeship
Another option for becoming a teaching assistant is to undertake an internship or apprenticeship. This is an excellent way to get some professional experience, especially if you're looking for a teaching assistant role but are facing rejections due to no experience. Your employer may require 5 GCSEs (grades A* to C) or the equivalent, including English and maths.
3. Sign up for volunteer work
You can also gather experience volunteering at your child's school or in other children's activities such as the scouts or brownies. If you have volunteered to tutor children in the past, that can also serve as an excellent experience that is relevant to the role. If it's not something you've done before, you might volunteer in your local community.
4. Get childcare experience
Having previous childcare or babysitting experience can be useful when applying for the role of a teaching assistant. Especially if you're not a parent yourself, learning how to manage children and teach them valuable skills is very useful. Think about any experiences you've had involving caring for children and consider how you can highlight the same on your resume.
5. Help your children
If you're a parent, helping your children and supporting them in their daily lives may also count as a relevant experience in some roles. This not only enhances your skills but also provides you with first-hand experience working with children. This is something you can highlight in your application and also discuss during the interview for the position of teaching assistant.
6. Work in a library
Working in a library, even part-time, can also offer relevant experience. In a library setting, students may sometimes require assistance with understanding more complicated subject matters or ask for book recommendations. Being able to explain things in a way that they're more able to understand is a very desirable trait for a teaching assistant.
7. Take up a teaching assistant course
Taking a specialised course may demonstrate your interest and determination in becoming a teaching assistant. You may look for teaching assistant courses online and select the best option for you. You can also choose to do a course that offers a diploma for a special needs education (SEN) teaching assistant. If you're in the early stages of a career in SEN teaching, taking an online course can help you develop your teaching career.
8. Apply for jobs
Once you believe that you already have the necessary skills and experience to become a teaching assistant, you can start applying for relevant employment opportunities. You can apply for a job directly with an organisation, institution or school to work as a teaching assistant. You can also submit direct applications via local authorities or academy trusts. Try to identify vacancies that do not have minimum experience or qualification requirements and demonstrate flexibility in their hiring process.
Teaching assistant skills
Besides relevant experience and training, being a teaching assistant may require some additional specific skills. Knowing these skills can help you establish if this is the right career choice for you and help you determine which skills to develop. Here are some of the essential skills for a teaching assistant:
A sensitive and caring nature: Working with children requires being sensitive and caring as children have different needs.
Strong communication skills: A large part of the role entails communicating with children to motivate them and help them understand complex ideas. Effective communication skills can help you manage children of all age groups easily.
Active listening skills: Being a good listener is essential, so you can listen to children's needs. Furthermore, when talking to children, listening skills can help you identify instances of bullying and conflict.
Patient and stamina: Working with children can be stressful at times and it's crucial you're able to remain calm. Furthermore, the role of a teacher's assistant can be rather demanding and may require high levels of stamina and energy.
Flexibility: As a teaching assistant, you may be working with children struggling to learn or facing various problems. Being flexible can help you to explore alternative methods that may suit individual children's learning requirements.
Positive attitude: Being positive in your role can help you encourage students and make them enjoy being in your company. Additionally, it can also help you develop a trustworthy relationship with children.
Creativity: Some students, especially those with special education needs, may find more traditional learning methods difficult. It is important that you find engaging and innovative methods of teaching to ensure the growth and learning of children.
Basic computer skills: Part of your role as a teacher's assistant may involve working with a computer and completing paperwork electronically. Therefore, having basic knowledge of computers can be helpful.
A clean criminal background: Your employer may want to conduct a background check to see if you have any past criminal convictions. Background checks are common for roles that involve working with children.
Read more: [Teaching skills: definition and examples](https://uk.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/teaching-skills)
Average salary of a teaching assistant
The amount you can earn as a teaching assistant may depend on various factors. If your employer pays you hourly, how many hours you work per week can also be a determining factor. The average salary for a teaching assistant is £71.72 per day. Furthermore, your location may also influence your salary. For instance, the average salary of a teaching assistant in Manchester is approximately £130 per day, which is possibly among the highest in the entire country. Whereas, the average salary of a teaching assistant in Bristol is £68.53 per day, which may be among the lowest.
Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at the time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.
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