Also sometimes known as a TA or Classroom Assistant, the job of a teaching assistant is to help the teacher in the classroom. They undertake a wide variety of roles such as listening to children read, preparing resources and supporting children who require additional help with their work. Working as a teaching assistant is attractive for people who want to work term time only and work closely with children’s education without the responsibility of becoming the class teacher. If it all sounds interesting, here’s what you should know about training as a teaching assistant.


It’s up to the schools to determine what sort of person they want to be a teaching assistant in their school. The official guidelines are that no formal qualifications are needed to apply for a job as a teaching assistant, but with such a high demand for these types of position, in reality applicants will need relevant experience as well as basic qualifications. Education to GCSE level in English, Maths and Science is desirable, as is the ability to speak a foreign language, IT skills and qualifications in working with children with autism or other learning difficulties. There are many colleges offering NVQ or HNC qualifications which are designed to equip students for a career as a teaching assistant, and these are a great starting point. Apprenticeships qualifying young people to work as teaching assistants may also be available in certain parts of the country.


Just as important as relevant qualifications is some experience in working with children. This doesn’t have to be in a classroom setting; it could be working as a Brownie or Cub leader, as a helper in a playgroup or at a sports club or in any other type of occupation. Relevant experience is often the sticking point for people trying to forge a career as a teaching assistant, so it’s wise to start investigating voluntary and other opportunities alongside more formal academic training.

Other Requirements

Teaching assistants must be cleared by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). An enhanced level check will be needed as classroom helpers have close contact with children. Minor convictions may not stop an applicant from being offered a job, but should be discussed with the employer at the interview stage. Teaching assistants are unlikely to be able to start work without a current DBS check.

Hours, Salary and Holidays

Teaching assistants work term time only, and many are employed part time. Hours and days of work will always be clearly stated on a job advert and might be negotiable, depending on the needs of the school. Wages for teaching assistants are set by local councils, or by Academies. The starting salary for a newly qualified teaching assistant is around £12,000, rising to £23,000 for a very experienced teaching assistant who has taken additional qualifications to become a higher-level teaching assistant. Some teaching assistants may also make the move into teaching at some point in future, or undertake other administrative responsibilities around the school.