How Do I Become a Teaching Associate?

Nicole Etolen
Nicole Etolen
Woman with hand on her hip
Woman with hand on her hip

A teaching associate is typically a graduate student who is hired to teach lower-level college students, usually freshmen and sophomores. They work under the guidance of full college professor, who helps them develop curriculum and acts as an adviser. The purpose of the job is to help graduate students earn experience working in a classroom setting under some supervision before sending them out on their own after graduation. In order to become a teaching associate, you will need to be in a masters or doctorate program, apply for a teachig position, and show that you are the best candidate for the job.

The first step to become a teaching associate is obtaining the appropriate level of education. Some colleges will allow you to apply as a masters degree student, while others may expect you to be in your final year of a doctoral degree. At the very least, you will need to complete a four-year degree to qualify. In addition to satisfying the degree requirements, you will need to continue to show that your academic work met the level required for the program. For example, some teaching associate positions require that you achieve a B average in your classes prior to applying.

If you meet the education requirements to become a teaching associate, and you know that you can continue to maintain satisfactory academic grades while working, you can begin applying for positions. Some universities list open positions while others may rely on word of mouth. Ask your professors if they are looking for associates, or if they know of other professors within your degree field who may be looking for one. This is a good idea even if the university lists positions, as it shows your interest and may increases the chances of a professor recommending you ahead of other applicants.

Once you have an interview or lead on a potential opportunity to become a teaching associate, work on making yourself stand out. Part of your responsibilities will include administering tests, grading papers, preparing the course material. This requires organization, attention to detail, and the ability to handle disputes with students should they arise. Show up to the interview on time, wear clothing that would be appropriate for a teaching associate, and be prepared to answer questions about how you would handle different situations with students.

Your resume should reflect both your diversity of experience and your ability to handle the position. Extra-curricular activities related to your degree field often look good; however, you do not want so many activities listed that it looks like you couldn’t possibly handle any additional responsibility. Show that you can balance your position with your academics and your extra-curricular activities. If you do not have any activities that would work well on a resume, ask your past and current professors if they would be willing to write a letter of recommendation.

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