The requirements to become an educational assistant vary by jurisdiction. If you are interested in working in this field, you should contact your local school district or educational authority to find out about its policies. In many places, there are no established qualifications to become an educational assistant, though experience working with children or some university training can be helpful in security employment. Other jurisdictions have more stringent requirements, such as requiring assistants to hold an associate’s degree, complete a professional certification program, or regularly take continuing education courses.
Educational assistants, sometimes known as a paraprofessionals or teacher's aides in the United States or as teaching assistants in the United Kingdom, work under the direction of a licensed teacher to provide supervision and assistance in schools. As you will be working with children, you will typically be required to pass an extensive background check before you can become an educational assistant. Any sort of criminal history may disqualify you from being hired for a position, so you should check with the school or school authority about any restrictions placed on hiring people who have convictions in their backgrounds.
In some areas, the primary educational credential to become an educational assistant is a high school diploma or its equivalent. Individual school districts and schools, however, may have more stringent requirements. You may be expected to hold an associate’s degree or to have completed a particular sequence of university-level courses. For example, federal law in the United States requires educational assistants who work in schools with a high number of low-income students to meet specific educational requirements or to complete an assessment process.
Once you become an educational assistant, your opportunities to assume more job responsibility or to specialize in a particular subject matter will typically depend on both your job performance and willingness to complete additional education. The school or school district that you work for may be able to offer you financial assistance in obtaining additional education or may even sponsor programs that you can attend to earn career credentials. In addition, you may be required to register with or obtain licensure from a government agency before you can begin working as a teacher’s aide, particularly if you plan to work with special education students. If this is the case, find out ahead of time what types of documentation you will need to apply for a license or registration before the start of the school year or the first day of your employment.