How Do I Become a College Teaching Assistant (TA)?

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Updated June 3, 2021

Learning how to become a college teaching assistant can help you land a job that will pay for a portion of your schooling. Many of these positions will pay for a percentage of your tuition costs, but depending on your course load, you might earn enough to cover your tuition, room and board. While many positions are only available for graduate students, some larger schools have TA positions available for upperclassmen.

What is a TA?

A teaching assistant, also known as a TA, handle many of the same tasks as professors do. According to College Confidential, TAs may teach classes, work with students in laboratories, grade papers and projects or work directly for a professor. Upperclassmen teaching assistants often handle basic tasks, which can include grading papers and handing out and proctoring examinations. Graduate school TAs take on more responsibilities. They teach classes, answer questions that students have and even meet with students during office hours. In some larger colleges and universities, teaching assistants will even teach more of the classes than the professors do.

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Meet the Requirements for the Position

The requirements needed to become a college teaching assistant varies from school to school. Graduate level programs often pay more than undergraduate positions do, and you'll need to meet more requirements. Most schools require that students be currently enrolled as a junior or senior in college, and others only offer positions to seniors and graduate students. The school will look at your transcripts to ensure that you received good grades in similar classes. Depending on the school, some programs require that students take and receive a high grade in the class before teaching it. If you took the class at a different school, you'll need to show that you took the equivalent of that course.

Apply for an Open Job

Competition for teaching assistant jobs is fierce. Students prefer making money teaching and grading papers than working other campus jobs or working off campus. At the graduate level, most schools require that you submit a copy of your undergraduate transcripts and letters of recommendation. Those recommendations should come from people familiar with your educational background and your teaching methods and experience. Many schools also require an interview with one or more people prior to accepting you into the program. Interviewers will ask questions about how you would handle different problems and issues and your teaching experience.

Attend TA Training

Before you become a college teaching assistant, you must also go through a TA training session. These sessions typically take place a few weeks before the start of the school year, but some larger schools host multiple training sessions throughout the year. The sessions go over the basics of what you'll do every day, teach you tips on how to work with students and introduce you to other TAs in the program. You'll also learn what you need to do to remain in the program. Most schools have a long list of rules that you must follow, and if you break one or more rules, you lose your spot.

Related Resource: Master's in Education Jobs

Teaching assistants earn money for working with professors, grading papers, administrating exams and handling other tasks. If you want to become a college teaching assistant at your school, you need to learn more about the position, meet the necessary requirements, apply for a job and attend any training sessions required.

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