Is a TA Job for You?
Though teaching assistant jobs exist in primary school, middle school and high school, these are typically career positions. Many teaching assistants at these levels are even part of teaching assistant unions, or may be rolled up under other unions along with research assistants, laboratory assistants and more.
More commonly, though, are higher level teaching assistant jobs, such as graduate teaching assistants and undergraduate teaching assistants. These are typically students who are continuing education in their field and are looking for a way to earn money as they learn.
Teaching Assistant Job Roles and Responsibilities
Teaching assistants typically work to support professors in delivering all aspects of an educational program, including lectures, lab work and testing. TAs are also often expected to hold office hours and to be available to students for tutoring sessions as needed.
In general, TAs are not expected to lead lectures, but in some cases, they may be asked to guide classes and assist in developing lecture material. This frequently happens if TAs are pursuing a career in teaching, or if there are large classes that need to be sectioned off into smaller groups.
TAs are often assigned to courses they have already completed, which means they are familiar with the material and the expectations placed on students taking the class.
Why Be a Teaching Assistant?
Being a TA allows students to work in a flexible environment, where they can set up hours around their academic schedule. It also allows them to gain valuable experience researching, lecturing and learning to interact with students in a professional manner. This can be a big challenge for teaching assistants, as they are still students themselves. Learning to set boundaries, evaluate and grade assignments and evaluate progress are some of the critical skills students will learn while being TAs.
The most obvious reason for becoming a TA, however, is the money, which will help students meet the tuition costs for their studies. While some TAs are paid only in academic credit, other positions are paid hourly or are even salaried. While the pay may not be exceptional, salaries can range between $27,000 and $46,000 depending on the position, the academic level and the field of study.