Becoming a teaching assistant (TA) is a rewarding career path that offers the opportunity to make a significant impact on the lives of students. Whether you’re just starting your career journey or considering a career change, becoming a TA can be a fulfilling and impactful choice. 


In recent years, the demand for skilled teaching assistants has grown significantly. Schools are increasingly recognising the value that TAs bring to the classroom.


There are numerous pathways to enter this profession, each offering various opportunities to gain the necessary qualifications and experience. 


This guide will walk you through the seven essential steps to becoming a teaching assistant, covering everything from acquiring the right qualifications and gaining practical experience to landing your first job and advancing your career. By following these steps, you can start your journey towards becoming a teaching assistant and make a lasting difference in the lives of your students. 

1. Understand the Role


Before starting your career as a teaching assistant, it’s crucial to understand what the role entails. Here is an outline of the typical roles and responsibilities of a teaching assistant in the UK:


  • Assisting the teacher: Helping the teacher with lesson preparation, such as setting up equipment and materials for lessons, and tidying up afterwards. 
  • Supporting learning activities: Working with small groups or individual students to reinforce learning, provide additional support, and ensure that all students are engaged and understanding the material. 
  • Supervising activities: Overseeing activities in the classroom, playground, or on school trips to ensure student safety and appropriate behaviour. 
  • Providing individualised support: Offering one-on-one support to students who may need extra help, including those with special educational needs (SEN) or disabilities. 
  • Conflict Resolution: Helping to resolve conflicts among students and creating a positive, inclusive classroom environment. 
  • Encouraging participation: Motivating and encouraging students to participate in classroom activities and engage with the learning material. 
  • Supporting literacy and numeracy: Assisting with the development of basic skills such as reading, writing, and math through targeted interventions and practice sessions. 
  • Record keeping: Maintaining accurate records of student progress, behaviour, and any additional support provided. 
  • Collaborating with staff: Working closely with teachers, SEN coordinators, and other school staff to ensure a cohesive approach to student support and learning. 
  • Liaising with parents and guardians: Communicating with parents and guardians about their child’s progress and any concerns or achievements. 


Learn more about the role of a TA

2. Gain Relevant Qualifications


While formal qualifications are not always mandatory for a TA role, having relevant qualifications can help you stand out. You can start by enrolling in a relevant college course. There are various courses designed specifically for those aspiring to become teaching assistants, including:



These courses all provide a solid foundation in child development, learning support, and educational theory. 

3. Gain Relevant Work Experience


Experience is highly valued within the field of education. Consider gaining experience in childcare settings, such as nurseries or after-school programs. This experience helps you develop essential skills in managing children’s behaviour, creating engaging activities, and understanding different learning styles. It also demonstrates your commitment to working with children, an attractive quality to potential employers.


Volunteering in a school setting is another excellent way to gain hands-on experience and understand the daily responsibilities of a teaching assistant. Many schools welcome volunteers to assist with classroom activities, providing you with practical experience and valuable insights into the role. This experience can also make your resume stand out when applying for paid positions.

4. Develop Key Skills


To excel as a teaching assistant, you need a diverse set of skills that enable you to support students effectively and work collaboratively with teachers. Here are the essential skills for a TA:


  • Clear and effective communication: The ability to convey information clearly to students, teachers, and parents. 
  • Active listening: Listening attentively to understand students’ needs and respond appropriately. 
  • Time management: Managing time effectively to balance multiple tasks and responsibilities. 
  • Empathy: Understanding and being sensitive to the emotions and needs of students. 
  • Patience: Remaining calm and patient, especially when dealing with challenging behaviour or learning difficulties. 
  • Problem-solving: Quickly finding solutions to unexpected issues or challenges in the classroom. 
  • Flexibility: Being open to changes in schedules, tasks, and priorities. 
  • Conflict resolution: Mediating conflicts between students and promoting a positive classroom atmosphere. 
  • Team collaboration: Working effectively with teachers and other school staff to support student learning. 
  • Literacy skills: Supporting students with reading, writing, and comprehension tasks. 
  • Numeracy skills: Helping students with basic math concepts and problem-solving activities. 
  • IT proficiency: Using educational technology and software to support teaching and learning. 


Developing these key skills will not only make you an effective teaching assistant but also enhance the learning experience for the students you support. As you prepare for this rewarding career, focus on building and refining these skills to ensure you can meet the diverse needs of the classroom.


Learn more about the top skills for TAs

5. Apply for TA Positions


Once you have the necessary qualifications and experience, start applying for teaching assistant positions. Before applying to jobs, make sure you tailor your resume and cover letter to highlight your relevant skills, experience, and enthusiasm for the role. You can learn more about how to write a standout teaching assistant CV in our guide.


A good starting point when looking for TA jobs is to explore local government and council websites, as many schools post vacancies directly through these platforms. For those looking for a broader range of options, popular job boards such as Indeed, Reed, CV Library and Totaljobs list teaching assistant positions across the UK. 


You can also look for jobs through specialist education recruitment agencies like CER. By working with us, we can provide tailored support and access to exclusive jobs with our partner schools and Multi-Academy Trusts. View our latest jobs or get in touch with our team today. 


Networking can also help you secure a TA position. Attending school events and joining professional groups on platforms like LinkedIn can help candidates learn about openings that may not be advertised widely. 

6. Prepare for Interviews


When you’re invited for an interview, be ready to discuss your qualifications, experience, and why you’re passionate about becoming a TA. Start by researching the school and understanding the specific needs of the students you will work with.


During the interview, be ready to demonstrate your communication skills by clearly articulating your thoughts and answering questions confidently. Practice common interview questions, such as how you would support a child struggling with a particular subject or how you handle classroom disruptions.


Remember to dress professionally, arrive on time, and bring any necessary documents, such as your CV, qualifications, and references. By preparing and approaching the interview with confidence, you can make a positive impression and increase your chances of securing the position.


Learn more about preparing for your TA interview

7. Continue Professional Development


Once you secure a position as a teaching assistant, continue to invest in your professional development. The education sector is constantly evolving, with new teaching methods, technologies, and insights into student development emerging regularly. By engaging in CPD, teaching assistants can enhance their skills, stay informed about these changes, and apply new strategies to support student learning more effectively.


Attend workshops, take additional courses, and stay updated on educational best practices. Many schools offer ongoing training for their staff, helping you enhance your skills and advance your career. 


At CER, all our candidates have access to Affinity Academy, our dedicated hub for learning and development. Candidates have access to a wide range of online training sessions like Teaching Assistant Toolkits, Safeguarding Refresher Training, SEND, Primary National Curriculum, and Behaviour Toolkits. These online courses offer flexible learning options that can fit around a busy work schedule. 


Learn more about our training opportunities

Becoming a teaching assistant requires dedication, patience, and a genuine passion for supporting children’s education.


Whether you’re just starting out or looking to transition into education, this guide provides a clear path to achieving your career goals. By following these 7 steps, you’ll be well on your way to a fulfilling career as a TA. 


Are you looking for your next exciting job as a teaching assistant? Contact our team today or apply for our latest TA vacancies by clicking the button below.


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