Few jobs provide as much personal fulfillment or daily fascination as that of a preschool teacher assistant or teacher's aide. These important educational professionals work closely with young children to build a strong academic foundation. They're also responsible for helping children develop essential emotional and social skills, which will benefit them not only as they enter elementary school, but also far into the future.
Preschool aides thrive on the relationships they build with children and their parents. They find it rewarding to help children learn and grow—and they're proud to do their part to shape a bright new generation.
Working under supervision of the lead teacher, preschool teacher's assistants carry out a variety of activities designed to help children gain a basic understanding of numbers, letters, colors, and shapes. They also play an instrumental role in supervising children on the playground, getting them ready for naptime, toileting, and serving snacks. These are all important components of the preschool routine, which, if carried out appropriately, helps young children gain confidence in themselves and in their environment.
Without aides or assistants available to carry out key tasks, lead teachers might struggle to develop or execute lesson plans. This position is also important in that it provides young kids with yet another strong role model, as well as a great source of emotional support.
The demand for preschool teacher assistants remains high as facilities seek new ways to improve educational standards while keeping costs manageable for families. Often, this means having these skilled workers provide much-needed assistance.
This approach maintains a desirable child-to-adult ratio without the need for additional teachers. Furthermore, aides allow teachers to focus on often time-consuming essentials of running a preschool classroom, such as planning lessons and interacting with parents.
The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) highlights a job outlook of 4 percent between 2019 and 2029 for all types of teacher's assistants. By 2029, experts project that 13,500 new jobs will become available, above and beyond the nearly 1.4 million positions that already exist.
Many preschool teacher's assistants work at facilities dedicated specifically to pre-K or kindergarten education. In other cases, these classrooms may be integrated within larger elementary schools. In these settings, each classroom may include one teacher and at least one aide or assistant.
The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) recommends a ratio of 1 adult to every 10 children for preschool classes that mainly consist of 4 and 5-year-old students. For younger children, this ratio is just 1:9. Aides make it possible to maintain or even exceed this ratio in classrooms or facilities that educate and care for up to twenty children.
While preschool teacher's assistants are often involved with dedicated pre-K programs, some are also employed in daycare facilities and other childcare environments. Locations can vary considerably, as preschool and daycare programs are run everywhere from public schools to community centers and even churches or corporate settings. This versatility represents a key benefit of the job, as aides are equipped to serve in virtually any location in which childcare or educational services are provided.
If you love working with children and would love to get started as soon as possible, you may be a top candidate for working as a preschool teacher's aide. This role holds a low educational barrier to entry, as most are able to find work when equipped with a relevant diploma. Ideally, training programs will align closely with NAEYC standards.
Specific academic requirements vary somewhat between states, so it's important to get a sense for local regulations before pursuing necessary training. Usually candidates much hold a high school diploma; however, there may be additional educational requirements based on the position. In most cases, an Early Childhood Care & Development diploma should fulfill the 120 clock hours required to obtain the National Child Development Associate (CDA) credential. Awarded via the Council for Professional Recognition, the CDA is the most widely recognized training credential within the field of early childhood education.
Your Early Childhood Care & Development diploma will prepare you for success in a variety of positions related to early childhood education and childcare. Equipped with this key credential, you'll likely find yourself taking on one of the following common job titles:
Your diploma could also provide an excellent starting point as you work towards a long-term goal of becoming a preschool teacher. Many teachers initially gain hands-on experience as aides or assistants.
A flexible program such as the Early Childhood Education Associate of Applied Science degree at Bryant & Stratton College could enable you to work as an aide as you make progress towards other career objectives.
Specific requirements for working in the field of early childhood education vary significantly from one state to the next. Even within a specific state or region, different jobs may require varying levels of training or certification in CPR or first aid. This is often guided by the aforementioned CDA credentialing process.
Students who earn the Early Childhood Care & Development diploma are encouraged to apply for the credential. The process for obtaining this may depend on desired work settings. Examples referenced by the Council for Professional Recognition include:
Beyond diplomas and CDA credentials, employers consider a variety of additional factors when determining whether applicants are eligible or suitable for employment. Many conduct criminal background checks, as well as assessments of physical and psychological health. In some cases, criminal convictions can make it more difficult for prospective preschool teacher's aides to find work.