Median annual earnings of teacher assistants in 2002 were $18,660. The middle 50 percent earned between $14,880 and $23,600. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $12,900, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $29,050.
Teacher assistants who work part time ordinarily do not receive benefits. Full-time workers usually receive health coverage and other benefits.
Advancement for teacher assistants usually in the form of higher earnings or increased responsibility comes primarily with experience or additional education. Some school districts provide time away from the job or tuition reimbursement so that teacher assistants can earn their bachelor's degrees and pursue licensed teaching positions. In return for tuition reimbursement, assistants are often required to teach a certain length of time for the school district.
Although school enrollments are projected to increase only slowly over the next decade, the student populations for which teacher assistants are most needed special education students and students for whom English is not their first language are expected to increase rapidly. Legislation that requires students with disabilities and non-native English speakers to receive an education "equal" to that of other students will generate jobs for teacher assistants to accommodate these students' special needs. Children with special needs require much personal attention, and special education teachers, as well as general education teachers with special education students, rely heavily on teacher assistants.
Additionally, a greater focus on educational quality and accountability, as required by the No Child Left Behind Act is likely to lead to an increased demand for teacher assistants. Growing numbers of teacher assistants will be needed to help teachers prepare students for standardized testing and to provide extra assistance to students who perform poorly on standardized tests. An increasing number of after-school programs and summer programs also will create new opportunities for teacher assistants.
Opportunities for teacher assistant jobs are expected to be best for persons with at least 2 years of formal education after high school. Persons who can speak a foreign language are in particular demand in school systems with large numbers of students whose families do not speak English at home. Demand is expected to vary by region of the country. Areas in which the population and school enrollments are expanding rapidly, such as many communities in the South and West, expect rapid growth in the demand for teacher assistants.
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