How to become a Teaching Assistant

How to become a Teaching Assistant


The role of a teaching assistant is one that appeals to many people across the UK.

Whether it’s the joy of working with children or the convenience of having the same holidays as your own kids the job has many enticing attributes.

However, for many, it can all be a bit daunting.

What does the role entail?

How do I train?

Where do I find positions?

Hence we have put together this guide which hopefully will answer all of your questions

Teaching Assistant Role

The role of a teaching assistant is to provide support to teachers and to help children get the most out of their educational and social development.

A teaching assistant has increasingly become an integral part of the classroom environment.

Teaching Assistants can be found in both primary and secondary schools with the actual responsibilities varying somewhat depending upon the age group, level of qualification and experience.

The general principles however remain the same.

Some of the key responsibilities of a teaching assistant include:

  • Providing support to children in Mathematics
  • Listening to children read as well as reading to them
  • Motivating and encouraging children so they remain focused on the task or activity they are engaged in
  • Partaking in lunch time and break duties as well has helping supervise children on school trips and events
  • Helping the teacher prepare the classroom for lessons, for example the materials and resources required.
  • Assisting the teacher with the planning of learning activities and completion of records
  • Taking care of children who are upset or hurt in an accident
  • Supporting the teacher in the managing of challenging behaviour
  • Clearing away materials after a lesson

To help gain more of an idea of the role have a read of “A Day in the Life of a Teaching Assistant” written by an actual TA themselves.

A Day in The Life


Working as a teaching assistant will require a number of core skills and competencies::

  • Maintaining a professional attitude
  • Positivity. Very important to help motivate and inspire students
  • Ability to work as a team and build relationships with students, staff and other professionals you may come in contact with such as parents, speech therapists, educational psychologists, social workers and carers.
  • Patience! There will be challenges on a daily basis. Maintaining composure is essential.
  • Most importantly, a love of working with children.


Technically you don’t require a qualification to work as a teaching assistant.

The reality however is somewhat different as most schools will want you to have a recognised qualification on your CV.

There will also be competition for job roles and it is more than likely there will be qualified people applying.

It is imperative that you ensure that any qualification you undertake is actually recognised.

Unfortunately there are many, especially online, that simply aren’t accepted by the vast majority of schools.

We highly recommend you have a read of our guide to teaching assistant courses where it will show you how you can check the legitimacy of any qualification from any provider.

Get My TA Guide

The basic principle however is for a qualification to be recognised and accepted by schools it must be listed on the RQF (Regulated Qualification Framework).
A good standard of education is also beneficial with a number of schools preferring Grace C or above in English and Maths as Literacy and Numeracy are important components in the TA role.


Technically you don’t require a qualification to work as a teaching assistant.

  • Apprenticeships You may be able to become a teaching assistant through an apprenticeship scheme. These can be very difficult to come by and involve on the job training.
  • College Here you will be able to partake in a rage of fully recognised TA qualifications. Courses can run both during the day time and evenings and varies from college to college so it is important to ensure you can commit to those hours. Most courses take a minimum of 12 months to complete.
  • Key points regarding distance learning courses:
  • You must ensure the course you are undertaking will lead to a genuine RQF qualification
  • Self motivation is key.
  • You can complete the course in your own time, so the more time you put in, the faster you finish allowing you to apply for jobs sooner.

We offer the full range of RQF listed Teaching Assistant Courses:

View All TA Courses


To be fully qualified as a teaching assistant you will be required to either be working in a school or obtain voluntary work of at least an average of five hours a week.

To obtain this you should approach the local schools in your area. Ensure you make it clear you are planning to study a qualification as they will know you are serious and not time wasting.

Use any contacts you may have, for example if you know a teacher, a TA or a parent from a school, use any avenue to make yourself known.

Many students have fed back to us they have a better response when they approach a school in person rather than just email or call.

Essentially try all avenues, those who are pro-active generally obtain the position they need.


The salary of a teaching assistant can depend upon various factors including experience, qualifications held and the pay scales of the local authority..

There is no set pay scale so individual authorities and even schools can set their own pay and terms. As a general guide the average salaries are:

  • No experience and Level 2 Ta’s - £11,000 to £15,000 per annum
  • Experienced Level 3 TA’s can earn up to £21,000 per annum
  • HLTA’s can earn between £21,000 and £25,000 per annum

There is also work available through supply agencies. Here you are likely to be paid more but the work may not be as regular and of course you may be required to travel further.


As with all job roles, the more you search the more opportunities you will find.

Usually TA positions are advertised by the school themselves but there are many places you can find vacancies.

Simply googling ‘teaching assistant’ jobs and adding the area that you live will bring you a long list. More generic sites you can look at include Reed, Jobsora and Total Jobs along with more specialist sites such as EduStaff and Eteach.


As with all job roles an effective CV is often the first step to securing the all important interview. Here are a few tips with regards to your CV.

  • Ensure there are no spelling or grammatical errors. Use spell check and read through your CV before sending it off. Sometimes a second pair of eyes can be useful. This is particularly important for an educational role such as teaching assistant.
  • Tailor your CV towards the job role. Consider any experience you may have of working with children, for example volunteering at local scouts/guides, helping with a local sports team or even reading to your own children. A good technique is to read through the job description, joy down some of the key factors then consider relevant examples from your own experience that match.
  • Ensure all your qualifications are listed

There are some good sources online to further assist you in planning and writing your CV, including templates. Examples include:


Preparation is the key to maximising your chances of success in an interview. Familiarise yourself with the school itself, their policies, vision and values.

Take your time, you don’t have to answer immediately, pauses while you compose yourself followed by a well thought answer are perfectly fine and far better than just blurting out the first thing that comes to mind.

Research online as to the types of questions you will be asked and if possible practice answering them with friends or family.

Try to use the SAR (Situation, Action, Result) technique when answering.

For example you might be asked what you would do if a child was hurt but didn’t want to go for medical attention.. if you have come across a similar situation previously, relate to it.. what the situation was, the action you took and the result.

Once again, google is your friend. There are many resources which provide sample answers to the most commonly asked questions. Read them, become familiar and you’ll impress that interview panel!

Some useful places to start:


Finally we leave you with some top tips on gaining a teaching assistant role..

  • Get some experience on your CV. Contact local schools and offer to volunteer
  • Without doubt getting an accredited qualification is critical. Not only does this show employers that you are qualified but it will boost your confidence no end when going for interviews.
  • Make a list of your transferrable skills. You will already most definitely have some of the skills required to be an effective Teaching Assistant. This is true whether you are a stay at home parent or an employee at the moment. Some examples of transferable skills are patience, organisations skills, creativity. You may have a hobby that ties in well and be experienced in something schools can use such as crafts, yoga, sports, gardening, cooking or sign language.
  • Talk to other Teaching Assistants. Ask them what they do and what skills they have. Ask them what makes a great TA and start working on it!
  • Don’t put it off…. Commit to it and go for it.. you won’t regret it!

You can find lots of teaching assistant vacancies on Jooble