This job is sometimes referred to by alternative titles
Teacher aides assist teachers in a classroom by working with students on a one-on-one basis, or in groups. Some teacher aides work in the school library or ICT suite.
Teacher aides usually earn
$15-$24 per hour
Source: New Zealand Educational Institute (NZEI), 2016.
Current job prospects
How many people are doing this job?
Source: Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, ‘2006-2014 Occupation Data’ (prepared for Careers New Zealand), 2016.
Pay for teacher aides and special education assistants varies depending on experience, qualifications and responsibilities.
Teacher aides can work up through a graded salary scale, usually progressing up a step each year within their grade:
- Grade A has two steps: starting on $15.26 an hour and going up to a maximum of $15.58 an hour.
- Grade B has eight steps: starting on $15.58 an hour and going up to a maximum of $19.29 an hour.
- Grade C has eight steps: starting on $19.29 an hour and going up to a maximum of $23.95 an hour.
Pay rates for special education assistants
Special education assistants work alongside a teacher or a therapist, with children who have a physical disability. They start on minimum wage and after one year can earn a maximum of $15.44 an hour.
Sources: New Zealand Educational Institute (NZEI), 'Support Staff in Schools' Collective Agreement, 6 June 2014 to 5 December 2016', and 'Kaiārahi i te Reo, Therapists’, ATSSD and Special Education Assistants' Collective Agreement 6 June 2014 to 5 December 2016'.
- New Zealand Educational Institute (NZEI) website - collective agreement on salaries for teacher aides
- New Zealand Educational Institute (NZEI) - collective agreement on salaries for special education assistants
- MoreBusiness.com website - use this calculator to convert pay and salary information
- Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment website – information about minimum pay rates
What you will do
Teacher aides may do some or all of the following:
- work with students one-on-one, and in small groups, following a programme prepared by the teacher
- help with extra activities, such as physical exercise or physiotherapy
- meet with teachers and parents to discuss students' progress
- help teachers plan lessons for students with special educational needs
- give medication to students who need it
- assist with personal care for a student, such as toileting or eating.
Skills and knowledge
Teacher aides need to have knowledge of:
- working with and implementing programmes for students who have special needs
- the school curriculum and subject areas in which they work
- different teaching methods and learning styles
- child learning and development
- safety and emergency procedures
- first aid procedures.
- usually work part time, between a few and 30 hours a week. Their work hours fall within school hours, from about 8.30am until 3.30pm, but they occasionally attend meetings outside these hours
- work in school classrooms, libraries, computer suites and playgrounds
- usually work with students who have learning or behavioural difficulties or special physical needs, so the work can be challenging and demanding at times
- may take students on visits to places in the community, such as the library or the shops, and often use public transport to help students develop appropriate skills.
What's the job really like?
Maths and ice cream a cool blend
"I have a passion for seeing other people learn," says teacher aide Matt Benassi. He works alongside secondary student James, who has cerebral palsy, and does all James’ writing for him, as well as interpreting information from teachers in a way James can easily understand.
"James is amazing. When we are in a maths class and he gets a problem that some adults can't even do, I just love it! We have this game – if he gets a hard question right, I give him points, if he does something silly, I give myself a point. Whoever gets to five points owes the other an ice cream. Right now, he owes me an ice cream and I owe him one!"
Nailing unexpected problems
Thinking on your feet is definitely a quality teacher aides need, says Matt. "On one of our trips out James' electric wheelchair got a flat tyre from a nail and we were stuck in the street for ages. In the end I managed to contact his dad who brought the manual wheelchair and James and I ended up having a good laugh about it."
There are no specific requirements to become a teacher aide, but relevant experience and a relevant qualification, such as a certificate in teacher aiding or diploma in education support, may be preferred by employers. You can study for the diploma at various locations in New Zealand, or via distance learning with Massey University.
Teacher aides must also undergo a police background check.
Vulnerable Children Act
The Vulnerable Children Act 2014 means that if you have certain serious convictions, you can’t be employed in a role where you are responsible for, or work alone with, children.
- Children’s Action Plan website - overview of restrictions on working with children
- New Zealand Legislation website - information on serious convictions that prevent employment with children
A minimum of three years of secondary education is preferred.
Teacher aides need to be:
- understanding and patient
- skilled at communicating with children and adults
- practical, organised and able to solve problems
- adaptable and creative
- able to relate to people from a range of cultures
- able to work well as part of a team.
You need to have a lot of patience – that's probably the number one virtue for a teacher aide. If you have that then you have an unlimited ability to help your student learn. Being flexible is also really important, as you never know what direction the day is going to head.
Useful experience for teacher aides includes:
- childcare work
- working with people with a disability
Teacher aides need to be reasonably fit as they may need to carry out physical tasks, such as helping students with disabilities move around or complete physiotherapy exercises.Check out related courses
What are the chances of getting a job?
Chances of getting work are best if you have experience and/or a qualification relevant to working with children or young people.
Vacancies quite common but competition high
Teacher aide vacancies come up reasonably often, but are usually part-time.
Because teacher aides only work during school terms, the job is attractive to those wishing to work family-friendly hours in their local neighbourhood. This means competition is usually strong for vacancies that arise.
Types of employers varied
Teacher aides work in:
- primary and intermediate schools (67% of teacher aides)
- secondary schools (26%)
- special schools (7%).
These schools may be run by the state or by independent and private education providers.
You can also work in the early childhood sector as an education support worker, doing a role similar to teacher aide.
- Laybourne, M, adviser, Ministry of Education, Careers New Zealand interview, July 2011.
- Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, ‘2006-2014 Occupation Data’ (prepared for Careers New Zealand), 2016.
- New Zealand Educational Institute (NZEI) and Ministry of Education, 'School Support Staff: Collectively Making Resources Count', May 2011, (www.nzei.org.nz).
Progression and specialisations
Teacher aides may progress to work in special schools or learning support units. Some teacher aides go on to complete teacher training qualifications.
Teacher aides may also specialise in special education and/or early childhood.
- Education Support Worker
- Education support workers work alongside a teacher or therapist with children in early childhood who have special needs.
- Special Education Assistant
- Special education assistants work alongside a teacher or therapist, with children who have a physical disability.
Last updated 21 April 2016