How to become a teaching assistant

A career as a Teaching Assistant can be rich and rewarding. As a Teaching Assistant, you’ll primarily work to support the classroom teacher with learning activities. This rewarding role means you’ll work closely with teachers and parents to ensure that pupils are learning in a safe environment where their individual needs are met.

From accompanying school trips to supervising small groups of students, you’ll be impacting their learning and development every day.

Average salary

€13,000 – €18,000 per annum

Required qualifications

There are no set entry requirements to become a Teaching Assistant; your Local Education Authority (LEA) will usually decide on the necessary qualifications and experiences.

Usually GCSEs (or equivalent) in English and Maths will be sought, and all Teaching Assistants will have to submit to a DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) check before being able to start working.

There are qualifications you can study to become a Teaching Assistant, such as a NVQ Level 2 certificate in Supporting Teaching and Learning, however, they are not necessarily mandatory.

Key skills

  • Strong literacy and numeracy skills
  • Ability to build strong, positive relationships
  • A basic understanding of how children develop and learn
  • Ability to work as part of a team
  • Ability to manage groups of children
  • Capable of dealing with challenging behaviour
  • Proficient IT skills

Some schools will also require Teaching Assistants to be fluent in local community languages

Useful work experience

Working as a Teaching Assistant can be a rewarding role, and previous experience of working with children will give you the edge in an interview. Experience such as volunteering in a local school for a few hours a week can give you an insight into the profession, and will often go a long way with potential employers.

A typical working day

The working hours of a Teaching Assistant are fairly standard; you’ll start around 8.30am and stay finish anywhere between 3.15 – 4.30pm, from Monday – Friday. Though you’ll mainly work during classroom hours, you may also have to work longer hours from time to time, as you’ll help with school trips and sports days. You’ll have a list of general duties during classroom hours, such as:

  • Getting the classroom ready for the teacher
  • Listening to children read, and reading stories aloud to the class
  • Helping individual pupils and providing extra support
  • Assisting the teacher with planning learning activities
  • Completing learning records
  • Helping to manage class behaviour
  • Dealing with and comforting upset children
  • Supervising group activities
  • Helping with class trips and events such as sports days

Where could you be in five years’ time?

Working as a Teaching Assistant opens you up to a variety of career opportunities.  You could progress to become a Higher-Level Teaching Assistant and work with secondary school children, or you could choose a specialism within your role, such as Literacy, Numeracy or even Special Educational Needs (SEN).

Best part of the job…

You can rest assured that you’re making a genuine difference in your pupils’ lives, by providing them with a safe and caring place to learn. What’s more, you’ll have the opportunity to watch your pupils develop and grow, knowing that you’ve played a vital role.

What to prepare for…

While the role is extremely rewarding, it doesn’t come without its challenges; not all children will be well-behaved, and you’ll have to be able to handle these situations confidently.

Key qualities

To succeed in a Teaching Assistant role, you’ll have to be patient and caring, and as you’ll be working with children it’s crucial that you’re honest and trustworthy. You should be creative and friendly, ensuring that you put your pupils first.

By browsing our Teaching Assistant jobs, you can get even more insight on whats required.