California Occupational Guides

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Detailed Guide for

Teacher Assistants in California

May also be called: Teacher Aides; Teaching Assistants; Instructional Aides; Paraeducators; Examination Proctors; Special Education Aides; and Instructional Assistants.

What Would I Do?

Teacher Assistants provide instructional and clerical support for classroom teachers, allowing them more time for lesson planning and teaching. Under the direction of the teacher, they work with students individually or in small groups. An Assistant might listen to one student read, help another find information for a report, or watch another work out math problems. Many Assistants work with special education or remediation students, as well as English language learners. Teacher Assistants also supervise students in the cafeteria, on school grounds, in hallways, or on field trips. They may also serve as crossing guards.

Important Tasks and Related Skills

Each task below is matched to a sample skill required to carry out the task.

View the skill definitions
TaskSkill Used in this Task
Provide extra assistance to students with special needs, such as non-English-speaking students or those with physical and mental disabilities.Speech Recognition
Tutor and assist children individually or in small groups in order to help them master assignments and to reinforce learning concepts presented by teachers.English Language
Supervise students in classrooms, halls, cafeterias, school yards, and gymnasiums, or on field trips.Active Listening
Enforce administration policies and rules governing students.Reading Comprehension
Observe students' performance, and record relevant data to assess progress.Critical Thinking
Discuss assigned duties with classroom teachers in order to coordinate instructional efforts.Speaking
Instruct and monitor students in the use and care of equipment and materials, in order to prevent injuries and damage.Problem Sensitivity
Present subject matter to students under the direction and guidance of teachers, using lectures, discussions, or supervised role-playing methods.Instructing
Source: U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Information Network (O*NET)

Working Conditions

Teacher Assistants work in a variety of settings, including preschools and child care centers, but most work in elementary or secondary schools. They spend a lot of their time standing, walking, or kneeling. Those who work closely with students may find it both physically and emotionally tiring. Assistants who work with special education students often perform more strenuous tasks, such as lifting, as they help students with their personal needs and daily routine. Most of the work is indoors, except when supervising students on the school grounds or on field trips.

Most work full-time, which in some settings is less than 40 hours per week. Many work part-time from three to six hours per day.

Some Teacher Assistants belong to unions, primarily the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association, which negotiate wages, hours, and the terms and conditions of employment with school systems.

Will This Job Fit Me?

The job of Teacher Assistant will appeal to those who enjoy activities that involve working with, communicating with, and teaching people. This occupation satisfies those with social interests. Social occupations involve helping or providing service to others. Individuals who enjoy relationships with people and providing support to others should be a good fit for this job.

What Wages and Benefits Can I Expect?


The median wage in 2016 for Teacher Assistants in California is $31,064 annually. The median is the point at which half of the workers earn more and half earn less.

Annual Wages for 2016Low
(25th percentile)
(50th percentile)
(75th percentile)
Source: EDD/LMID Occupational Employment Statistics Survey, 2016 Wages do not reflect self-employment.
View Wages for All Areas


Teacher Assistants who work full-time generally receive medical insurance, vacation, sick leave, and retirement benefits. Most part-time workers do not receive pensions, medical insurance, or other benefits. For those who work in the same district where their children go to school, an added benefit is sharing the same vacation schedule.

What is the Job Outlook?

School enrollments in California are expected to increase only slightly over the next decade. However, there will be a continued need for Teacher Assistants who work with special education students and English language learners. Legislation that requires all students to receive an “equal” education will continue to generate jobs for Teacher Assistants to accommodate these students’ special needs.

Teacher Assistants with at least two years of college will find the most opportunities. Those with experience in helping special education students, or who can speak a foreign language, will be especially in demand.

Projections of Employment

In California, the number of Teacher Assistants is expected to grow slower than average growth rate for all occupations. Jobs for Teacher Assistants are expected to increase by 10.5 percent, or 15,100 jobs between 2014 and 2024.

Estimated Employment and Projected Growth
Teacher Assistants
Geographic Area
(Estimated Year-Projected Year)
Additional Openings
Due to Net
Source: EDD/LMID Projections of Employment by Occupation
View Projected Growth for All Areas

Annual Job Openings

In California, an average of 1,500 new job openings per year is expected for Teacher Assistants, plus an additional 3,450 job openings due to net replacement needs, resulting in a total of 4,950 job openings.

Estimated Average Annual Job Openings
Teacher Assistants
Geographic Area
(Estimated Year-
Projected Year)
Jobs From GrowthJobs Due to
Net Replacements
Total Annual
Job Openings
Source: EDD/LMID Projections of Employment by Occupation
View Data for All Areas

How Do I Qualify?

Education, Training, and Other Requirements

Educational requirements vary by school district and range from a high school diploma to some college coursework. Employers are increasingly seeking candidates who have completed a minimum of two years of college. Schools designated as Title I schools, with a large proportion of students from low-income households, have additional federal requirements.

Following State law, all schools require applicants to pass a test in reading, language, and math. Applicants may be required to pass a No Child Left Behind (NCLB) compliant exam prior to being hired or to provide a certified copy of California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST) results with a passing grade. Prior to employment, Teacher Assistants are required to pass a background check. Some schools may also require a valid California driver license, a clean driving record, and Tuberculosis (TB) screening results.

There are a number of associate degree or certificate programs available at community colleges which prepare graduates for work as Teacher Assistants.


Most Teacher Assistants get their training in the classroom. Experience caring for and supervising groups of children is helpful. Additionally, Assistants must be able to communicate well with both students and teachers. Bilingual skills or experience working with special education students should offer the candidate an advantage.

Teacher Assistants should enjoy working with children from a wide range of cultural backgrounds and be able to handle classroom situations with fairness and patience. They must also show initiative and be willing to follow the classroom teacher's directions. They should have an understanding of class materials and instructional methods and must know how to operate classroom computers, audio/visual equipment, and copiers.

Early Career Planning

High school students interested in this kind of work should take classes in language arts, foreign language, and mathematics.

Work Study Programs

There may be Regional Occupational Programs available for Teacher Assistants. To find an ROP program near you, go to the California Association of Regional Occupational Centers and Programs Web site.

Where Can I Find Training?

There are two ways to search for training information:

  • Search by Field of Study to find what programs are available and what schools offer those programs. You may use keywords such as: Teacher Assistant/Aide, Teaching Assistants/Aides, Teaching, Teacher, and Education.
  • Search by Training Provider to find schools by name, type of school, or location.

Contact the schools you are interested in to learn about the classes available, tuition and fees, and any prerequisite course work.

Where Would I Work?

The majority of Teacher Assistants work in K-12 education. The largest industries employing Teacher Assistants are as follows:

Industry TitlePercent of Total Employment for Occupation in California
Elementary and Secondary Schools 77.6%
Child Day Care Services 5.7%
Colleges and Universities 3.3%
Junior Colleges 2.3%
Religious Organizations 2.2%
Source: EDD/LMID Staffing Patterns

Finding a Job

Direct application to employers remains one of the most effective job search methods. Online job opening systems include JobCentral at and CalJOBSSM at

To find your nearest One-Stop Career Center, go to Service Locator. View the helpful job search tips for more resources. (requires Adobe Reader).

Yellow Page Headings

You can focus your local job search by checking employers listed online or in your local telephone directory. Below are some suggested headings where you might find employers of Teacher Assistants.

  • Child Care
  • Colleges & Universities
  • Private Schools (K-12)
  • Public Schools
  • Recreation

Find Possible Employers

To locate a list of employers in your area, go to "Find Employers" on the Labor Market Information Web site:

  • Select one of the top industries that employ the occupation. This will give you a list of employers in that industry in your area.
  • Click on "View Filter Selections" to limit your list to specific cities or employer size.
  • Click on an employer for the street address, telephone number, size of business, Web site, etc.
  • Contact the employer for possible employment.

Where Could This Job Lead?

Teacher Assistants may advance as they gain more experience and education. Some employers provide ways for Teacher Assistants to work while they earn their bachelor’s degrees and pursue licensed teaching positions.

Related Occupations

Below is a list of occupations related to Teacher Assistants with links to more information.

Elementary School Teachers, Except Special EducationGuide
Graduate Teaching AssistantsGuide
Kindergarten Teachers, Except Special EducationProfile
Library TechniciansProfile
Occupational Therapy AssistantsProfile
Preschool Teachers, Except Special EducationGuide
Recreation WorkersGuide
Special Education Teachers, Preschool, Kindergarten, and Elementary School*Guide
Vocational Education Teachers, PostsecondaryProfile

Other Sources

  • American Federation of Teachers
  • Association for Childhood Education International
  • California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST)
  • California County Superintendents Educational Services Association (CCSESA)
  • National Research Center for Paraprofessionals

These links are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement by EDD.

For the Career Professional

The following codes are provided to assist counselors, job placement workers, or other career professionals.

SOC - Standard Occupational Classification25-9041
O*NET - Occupational Information Network
   Teacher Assistants25-9041.00
   Interest Codes (RIASEC)SCA
CIP - Classification of Instructional Programs
   Teacher Assistant/Aide 131501
TOP - Taxonomy of Programs (California Community Colleges)
   Educational Aide (Teacher Assistant)080200
   Educational Aide (Teacher Assistant), Bilingual080210