Employment of teacher assistants is expected to grow about as fast as the average for all occupations through 2014. In addition to job openings stemming from employment growth, numerous openings will arise as assistants leave their jobs and must be replaced. Many assistant jobs require limited formal education and offer relatively low pay so each year many transfer to other occupations or leave the labor force to assume family responsibilities, to return to school, or for other reasons.
School enrollments are projected to increase only slowly over the next decade, but special education students and students for whom English is not their first languagethe student populations for which teacher assistants are most neededare expected to grow faster and increase as a share of the total school-age population. Legislation that requires students with disabilities and non-native English speakers to receive an education “equal” to that of other students, will continue to generate jobs for teacher assistants to accommodate these students’ special needs. Children with special needs require much personal attention, and special education teachers, as well as general education teachers with special education students, rely heavily on teacher assistants.
The greater focus on quality and accountability that has been placed on education in recent years also is likely to lead to an increased demand for teacher assistants. Growing numbers of teacher assistants may be needed to help teachers prepare students for standardized testing and to provide extra assistance to students who perform poorly on standardized tests. This growth may be moderated, however, as schools are encouraged to allocate resources to hiring more full teachers for instructional purposes. An increasing number of after-school programs and summer programs also will create new opportunities for teacher assistants.
Opportunities for teacher assistant jobs are expected to be best for persons with at least 2 years of formal education after high school. Persons who can speak a foreign language should be in particular demand in school systems with large numbers of students whose families do not speak English at home. Demand is expected to vary by region of the country. Areas in which the population and school enrollments are expected to grow faster, such as many communities in the South and West, should have rapid growth in the demand for teacher assistants.