Teaching Assistant Salary: How Much Can You Earn?
March 2 • 5 min read
As a teaching assistant, you’ll get the satisfaction of helping children develop academically, socially and emotionally. And whereas you would be expected to have at least a bachelor’s degree before working as a teacher, you’ll typically be able to work as a teaching assistant as soon as you’ve got an associate’s degree. Becoming a teacher’s assistant is far more accessible, especially if you’re pivoting careers.
Teaching assistants have a reputation for doing vital work that’s underpaid and underappreciated. However, you might be surprised by how much you can earn. Keep reading to discover the average teaching assistant salary in the US, along with the factors that can lead to higher wages.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the 2021 median teaching assistant salary (excluding post-secondary education) was $29,360 per year. The majority of teaching assistants in the US earned between $21,890 and $46,530.
If you’re hoping to work in a school, there’s not a lot of variation in median teaching assistant salaries. The highest-paid teaching assistants worked in local elementary and secondary schools, where their wages averaged $29,460 a year. Private elementary and secondary school teaching assistants averaged $29,360, while teaching assistants in child daycare services earned $28,620.
However, wages for teaching assistants in libraries and other educational assistants were slightly higher. They averaged $30,460 in 2021.
In short, the average teaching assistant salary in schools in the US sat just below $30,000 in 2021, which is where the latest official data comes from. While inflation may have led to a slight wage increase since then, there’s no denying that teaching assistant salaries are lower than average. In fact, the BLS calculates that in 2021, the median salary across all occupations in the US was $45,760.
However, there are several factors that can lead to a higher teaching assistant salary. Let’s take a look at them.
There are six main factors that can influence teaching assistant salaries.
Teaching assistant salaries can vary dramatically by state and even by city. For example, user-reported data collaged by job board Indeed suggests that teaching assistants in New York State average $16.07 per hour. However, in Arkansas, that rate falls to $13.65 per hour.
Of course, when it comes to location, higher wages aren’t always better. It’s also important to consider the cost of living and your purchasing power.
According to the Living Wage Calculator, hosted by MIT, the self-reported average wages paid in New York and Arkansas can potentially represent a living wage in the respective state, depending on the number of working adults and children in your household. You can use this tool to check if the teaching assistant rates offered by your local schools should be enough to support you and your family.
Your local union might have already negotiated salary conditions and benefits for teaching assistants. A Congress report found that unionized workers earn 10.2% more than their non-unionized counterparts. However, the exact impact of union regulations on teaching assistant salaries can vary significantly.
We’ve already looked at how teaching assistants in private schools in the US earn on average $100 less than teaching assistants in public schools. This is a relatively small drop in wages. In fact, it’s a decrease of under 0.5%. However, if you work in a private school, you are also more likely to be able to negotiate your salary and benefits.
It’s not always possible to negotiate teaching assistant wages. However, the higher the demand for teaching assistants, the more likely schools are to budge on their salary offers.
While you can become a teaching assistant with an associate’s degree, having a bachelor’s degree or postgraduate education can put you in a good position for negotiating a higher salary.
If you’ve got significant prior experience as a teaching assistant, you might be able to successfully negotiate a higher starting salary. Plus, you should ask for a pay rise every year so that your salary increases in line with inflation.
Negotiating a higher teaching assistant salary is challenging, but not impossible. Many state schools have an established salary structure that determines the rate they offer you. In this case, they’re unlikely to offer a higher salary.
It will be easier to negotiate your salary if you’re working in a private or charter school. On the other hand, if you’re unionized, you might find that your union has already negotiated a thorough pay structure that leaves little room for negotiations.
You are most likely to successfully negotiate a higher teaching assistant salary if you do so before accepting a job offer. Most schools will only offer their existing teachers pay rises on a yearly basis and as a small percentage increase of your current rate.
Successfully negotiating a higher teaching assistant salary starts with thorough research. Make sure you know the average teaching assistant salaries in your city and state, along with the local cost of living. Based on this, decide what starting salary you would be happy with and prepare your case.
Salary negotiations normally take place after the salary offer and before accepting the job offer. Start by stressing your interest in the role before asking for your desired salary.
A polished, professional resume will highlight your skills and experiences so that you can stand out from other applicants. The better your resume, the easier it will be to achieve invites to teaching assistant job interviews, job offers and attractive salary offers.
Your resume should emphasize your strengths while also being customized to the school in question. It also needs to be concise, professional and easy to read for humans and machines alike. Oh, and watch out for common resume mistakes like rewording the job description or using the wrong document file.
Our teaching assistant resume templates will help you craft a stellar resume, so you don’t have to stress about things like columns and margin sizes. Each one is machine-readable and easy to adapt to your background. Plus, our resume builder will suggest the ideal structure for your resume based on your background and experience level, along with recruiter-approved phrasing.
You can build your teaching assistant resume in just 10 minutes with our tools, so get started now.