How to Become a Teaching Assistant

Classrooms need teaching assistants to help things run smoothly as well as support pupils and teachers so that the curriculum is being understood and learned properly.

If you want to become a teaching assistant/classroom assistant, but don’t know what steps you will need to take to get this going, then today is your lucky day, as I will go into the process of getting into the teaching assistant role and what teaching assistant qualifications are needed to help you fully become one.

What is a Teaching Assistant

You probably already know what a teaching assistant is, as the title is basically what you will be doing when you are in class with a fully qualified teacher, but there is more to it than meets the eye, and teaching assistants do have a lot to do when they are in the classroom to make sure students are reaching their full potential.

Where Are They Based?

Teaching assistants are based in a nursery (infants) or a school classroom (primary and secondary schools) with a teacher to help them deliver the lesson to the pupils and help them develop skills and build on their knowledge.

Depending on the level that the teaching assistant works at, they will be in a variety of classrooms helping out students either collectively or one-on-one.

They can also work in special needs schools, colleges, or education centres, which means that they can be used everywhere and are integral to the classroom system to help out anyone and everyone who needs it.

What Are The Responsibilities of a Teaching Assistant?

Teaching assistants have a lot of teaching skills that can help in the classroom, and depending on what they are trained in, they will have a variety of responsibilities to help out teachers as and when required.

You may be needed to help a specific pupil with their work, or you could be in charge of a group of students to teach them a full lesson whilst the teacher takes another group.

Your role as a teacher’s assistant may include –

  • Listening to children read, and writing a report on their progress
  • Supporting teachers to manage the classroom
  • Setting up lessons and activities throughout the day
  • Ensuring pupils stay on task when doing any work
  • Supervising group activities
  • Conducting reading and writing activities in class

These are just some that you may need to do whilst being a teaching assistant, but it all depends on where you are put and what needs the teacher and students have.

What Skills Should a Teaching Assistant Have?

The skills that you’re expected to have when applying for a job are generally dependent on the kind of institution you’re applying in, what you’re teaching, as well as who you will be teaching. For example, if you’re teaching at a centre that educates children or vulnerable adults, you might be required to complete DESIGNATED SAFEGUARDING LEAD TRAINING.

Likewise, if you intend to be a sports teaching assistant, you might be required to have a relevant degree in relevant subjects as well as formal training in the sport you’re specialising in.

If you want to be a teaching assistant, you need to show that you can apply the skills you have learned when you are in the classroom. You have to be competent in your job and always work towards bettering yourself and others.

Why Should Teaching Assistants Build on Their Skills?

Throughout your teaching assistant courses, you should be developing your skills so that when you are looking for teaching assistant jobs, you have all the necessary tools in place to make a good impression, and get your foot in the door.

Below are some essential skills that are important for you to have so you can do your job effectively.

  • Active listening skills
  • Excellent team working skills
  • Communication skills
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Professional attitude
  • Numeracy skills
  • Care for student’s well-being
  • Safeguarding lead skills
  • Able to build rapport and positive relationships
  • Staying up-to-date on key policies

When you plan on starting your teaching career, you should be able to show that you have these essential skills and that you are willing to adapt and build on them when the occasion calls for it.

The Qualifications You Need to Become a Teaching Assistant

Now that you know the background for becoming a teaching assistant, and what type of skills you have to possess, your next stop is what type of training you will need and the qualifications that will help you achieve your career goals.

If you want to progress in your career and aim for a higher-level teaching assistant or apply to be a fully qualified teacher, then you will need to do extra, but for now, let’s talk about what you are required to do from the start.

What Basic Qualifications Are Needed?

To start with, each role will have specific entry requirements, and the role you are applying for will need you to have different qualifications so you can enter the role.

You will need to have Literacy and Numeracy (English and Maths) GCSE or equivalent in functional skills.

You need to have these qualifications as they are basics in the school system and you have to be able to support students who are learning these subjects throughout school.

It is also important that you have at least one qualification that involves childcare.

Level 2 Courses

The following courses are knowledge-based courses and will help you get on to level 3 courses if needed.

  • Level 2 Certificate in Supporting Teaching and Learning
  • Level 2 in Support Work in Schools and Colleges
  • Level 2 Teaching Assistant Certificate

Level 3 Courses

  • Level 3 Teaching Assistant Diploma
  • Level 3 Award in Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools
  • Level 3 Certificate in Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools
  • Level 3 Diploma in Specialist Support for Teaching and Learning in Schools

Teaching Assistant Courses Online

You can do distance learning courses that can help you gain qualifications that are a great stepping stone at moving you up the ladder when you decide to become a teaching assistant.

This is perfect for people who need to learn at a steady pace but cannot go full-time especially if they have to work another job during the day.

College Course

There are many colleges that offer recognised and accredited TA qualifications, and they can either be attended during the day or at night depending on people’s schedules.

It can take around 12 months to complete teaching assistant courses, and if you are already employed in an area similar to this, your employer may allow a day off during the week for your study, but you will need to sort this out with them.

On-The-Job Training

You may get employed first in a local school first and then go through the training to become a teaching assistant.

Many schools will offer this as they need all the help that they can get, and it can help you study as well as get real-life experiences.

You can also take on additional courses, such as behavioural courses, learning difficulty courses, etc., so you can learn a lot of different sectors that can help you make a choice about what type of teaching assistant you want to be.

Once you’ve acquired the necessary qualifications, there are two major ways you could assume the job of a teaching assistant – by physically visiting institutions and through online portals. To start, you could contact those schools and colleges you’re interested to work in and give interviews to fill their vacancies. Since you also have the option of looking online, consider registering yourself on different platforms that feature teaching assistant jobs. For instance, through portals like, you could find those sen teaching assistant jobs that fit your qualifications and level of expertise.

What Will Your Teaching Assistant Salary Be?

Salaries will depend on what level you are working at and the qualifications you have, so this will be varied.

Starting salaries can be around 11,500 to start with (this will depend on the hours you work as you may only be part-time).

It can reach up to 18,000 with more responsibilities being added.

Higher-level teaching assistants will earn about 23,000 to 25,000.

The pay range will depend on the employer and what else you do, for example, if you are needed for out-of-school trips or after-school clubs, classes in the holidays, and so on, then your salary will be different as you are taking on extra work.

It may not be a job that pays you a lot of money, but it is a rewarding one, and knowing that you will be helping students of all ages out there can be something that drives you forward in your career.


Now that you know how to become a teaching assistant, you hopefully, know if it is the right career move for you.

If a teacher is what you have always wanted to be, or you have wanted to work in an educational setting, then becoming a teaching assistant or starting out as one can help you fulfill that dream.

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