An instructional aide assists teachers in a variety of settings, and as such, requirements for becoming an instructional aide vary from employer to employer and jurisdiction to jurisdiction. In most cases, however, you will need at least a high school or a General Educational Development® (GED®) diploma to become an instructional aide, but some employers might prefer you to have completed at least some college, especially for positions that work with disadvantaged children. Additionally, most employers will want you to have experience related to the job. For example, if you will help with cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) instruction, you may need to know CPR to land the job you want.
Generally speaking, you can become an instructional aide with a high school diploma or a GED®. This doesn't mean, however, that you should rule out a college education. You might find that your work opportunities will improve if you choose to earn an associate's or bachelor's degree in the field in which you hope to work. Even a certificate may help to improve your job prospects in some cases. For example, if you want to become an aide for a preschool class, earning a certificate, diploma, or degree from an early childhood education program may improve your chances of landing this job.
It is important to note that if you will serve an at-risk population, you may need more education to become an instructional aide. For example, if you will work with disadvantaged children, such as in an area known for poverty and diminished access to health care and educational resources, employers might require you to have at least a couple of years of college education. Such requirements may depend on where you live, however, and whether your region's government has established policies for the educational program for which you want to work.
Many employers will desire at least some related experience when you want to become an instructional aide. For example, if you want to assist in an academic classroom, experience with children will likely prove necessary. If you will work as an aide for an art program, art interest or experience may be expected. Likewise, if you will assist an individual who is teaching a sports program, some sports experience or athletic ability may help you land the job.
Though your chances for landing a job may be much improved if you have experience, you will likely find that many employers provide on-the-job training as well. Such training will typically help prepare you for the responsibilities you will have as an instructional aide and provide a better understanding of the institution's goals and policies. If the job description includes operating equipment or obtaining supplies, you will probably learn how to do both as part of your on-the-job training.