How to Become a Teaching Assistant With No Experience

Teaching assistants are in high demand, and schools are looking for passionate individuals to fill out their roles. If you’re searching for employment, or just need a career change, becoming a TA could be for you. Teaching assistant jobs are great for anyone looking to get into a career in education, but they’re especially great for parents. They fit around school hours and term times and you can usually find them locally, so they’re not only convenient but also allow you to give back to your community. Positions are varied and give you the freedom to be creative, and can provide fantastic job satisfaction as you help children to learn and grow. It’s possible to become a teaching assistant with no experience, though it may put you at a disadvantage when applying for a TA job. Candidates with experience are more likely to be shortlisted for interviews, but there are steps you can take to improve your chances of getting a teaching assistant job.

Make a good impression

We all know how important first impressions are, and through the application and interviewing process you’ll have a few chances to make a positive impression on your prospective employers. For most jobs that you will apply for, the first chance to make a good impression is your CV and cover letter.

At the very least you should make sure your CV and cover letter are up to date. Making sure these are up to date show that you’re conscientious and any gaps in your employment history from a can work against you. For an even better chance at landing an interview, try writing a specialised CV and cover letter tuned to the role you are interested in. For a detailed guide on writing a teaching assistant CV or a teaching assistant cover letter check out our other articles.

In the case you have landed an interview it’s important for you to be prepared . Though there are general interview tips such as dressing appropriately or being honest, planning for what interview questions you might be asked could be one of the most important. For some ideas about what you might be asked as well as questions you could ask your interviewer check out our teaching assistant interview questions guide.

Be familiar with the role

You need to not only be familiar with the responsibilities of the role in general but also the specific job listing you are looking at. Teaching assistants can have a range of specialisations and it’s important to make sure that the role you are applying for is for you! Doing some research on the school and job is not only going to be beneficial in making sure the role is for you but it may also give you an edge if you can mention what you have learned in an upcoming interview. Our teaching assistant careers advice guide mentions some of the typical responsibilities of teaching assistants.

Get teaching assistant qualifications

Though schools often set their own requirements depending on the needs of the pupils, it will improve your chances of getting shortlisted for an interview if you have some teaching assistant qualifications. There are qualifications available at level 1, 2, and 3, and they’ll help you show that you have the skills and proper competencies to work as a teaching assistant.

It’s a good start to get a Level 2 Teaching Assistant qualification so you’ll have the knowledge that you’ll need for the position, as well as looking good to prospective employers. Once you have your Level 2 Teaching Assistant qualification, you could look at expanding your skillset with a Level 3 Teaching Assistant qualification. You’ll be able to build upon your knowledge and earn a higher salary as you progress.

Get teaching assistant supporting qualifications

Though teaching assistant qualifications are important they sometimes won’t be enough. Many candidates could have very similar skills and knowledge to you so getting some supporting qualifications to complement your TA qualifications might help you stand out from the crowd. There are many complementary qualifications that will give you additional knowledge in specialised areas such as in childcare, safeguarding, mental health awareness, equality and diversity, or even first aid.

Get some experience working with children

Experience working with children in a classroom or education setting is the most relevant and valuable. This experience could range from being a voluntary teaching assistant or working as a nursery assistant. Two things to keep in mind when looking for the right experience opportunity are:

That you should try to get experience with children who are a similar age to those you aspire to work with

That getting experience working with special needs children is especially valuable

It doesn’t matter if the experience you gain working with children is through paid or voluntary work. First, it’s usually best to check for paid experience, checking out our jobs board is a great way to start your search for paid opportunities. Voluntary roles are usually easier to find, the best way is to contact the organisation you wish to volunteer at directly. For both paid and voluntary placements you will need to pass a DBS check and will likely be supervised in the initial stages of your placement. 

But in the case there aren’t any roles available near you, or these types of opportunities don’t fit into your lifestyle. Don’t worry, there are other ways to get or evidence experience working with children. Volunteer work with youth groups would also provide value experience while giving back to the community.

In the case you don’t have time to gain new experience with children, mentioning that you have children that age or even times you have gone above and beyond to help children in previous employment are a great start.