Being an educator is a very viable occupation; as long as there are children to be educated, there will always be a need for teachers and for teacher employment. One of the ways to become part of the education sector is to become an education assistant. An education assistant, also known as an assistant teacher or a paraeducator, is in charge of most of the clerical duties in a classroom, such as setting up equipment, recording grades, and preparing instructional materials. They are also responsible for monitoring student activity in high-traffic areas such as in the cafeteria, hallways and the schoolyard. Apart from this, they can also be instrumental in providing the individualized or small group instruction that many students, especially those with special needs, require. In essence, they free up the tasks of the teacher in order for the teacher to concentrate on planning for the lessons and facilitating instruction. An assistant teacher's median pay in 2006 was $20,740 annually, with $13,910 as the lowest base salary and $31,610 as the highest.
How do you get qualified to become an assistant teacher? Typically, to get a teaching job as an assistant teacher, you need a high school diploma. What's highly important here is the on-the-job training that you acquire. This on-the-job training will include knowing more about the school culture and values, the particular school regulations and the other systems and school operations being implemented. Though a high school diploma is the minimum requirement, definitely a degree - be it a 2 year associate degree or a full bachelor's - will give you more opportunities for assistant teacher positions, and will also give you more chances for further advancement. Apart from this, assistant teachers are expected to get constant educational training so they will be updated on the most effective tools and methods for teaching.
Many community colleges offer certificate courses and short trainings that prepare high school graduates to become teacher assistants. In some states, there are some additional requirements such as a state test that you'd have to pass in order to qualify as a teacher assistant. If you speak a second language fluently - such as Spanish - that would definitely be an advantage for you. You would be given more teaching responsibility, and this will likely provide better opportunities for you to acquire full teaching positions for mentoring foreign students.
Many states provide educational opportunities for their teacher assistants, by giving them tuition reimbursements or flexible time schedules in order for them to pursue a full bachelor's degree in education. This will enable them to acquire licensing as a full education professional. Some teacher assistants opt to complete their education degree through online courses. After they pass their license exams, they can either apply at other schools with teaching vacancies, or they can remain at the school they've started out as an education assistant in and expect to be promoted as a full teacher. This latter option is usually the more viable one, since if you've already invested a lot of your time knowing the school systems, then you are likely to be more effective as an educator if you teach in that same school.