Teacher aides assist teachers in a classroom by working with students on a one-to-one basis, or in groups.
Teacher aides usually earn
$21-$35 per hour
Source: NZEI, E Tū and The Secretary for Education, 2019.
Pay for teacher aides varies depending on experience.
- New teacher aides usually earn $21 an hour.
- Teacher aides with more experience or specialist skills can earn up to $35 an hour.
Source: NZEI Te Riu Roa, E Tū and The Secretary for Education, 'Support Staff in Schools' Collective Agreement – 13 December 2019 to 6 February 2022', 2019.
- Education.govt.nz website - support staff in schools' collective agreement
- PAYE.net.nz website - use this calculator to convert pay and salary information
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our pay information)
What you will do
Teacher aides may do some or all of the following:
- work with students one to 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
- help students learn English as a second language
- give medication to students who need it
- assist students with personal care such as toileting or eating.
Skills and knowledge
Teacher aides need to have knowledge of:
- how to work with students who have special needs
- the school curriculum and subject areas in which they work
- different teaching methods and learning styles
- behavioural management techniques, such as ways to calm an angry child
- child learning and development
- school rules, policies and procedures, including safety and emergency procedures
- first aid.
- usually work part time, up to 30 hours a week during school hours, but may attend meetings outside these hours
- work in school classrooms, libraries, computer suites and playgrounds
- may work in stressful conditions with students who can get violent when angry or upset
- may take students on visits to places in the community such as the library.
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. However, many employers prefer to hire teacher aides who have experience working with young people.
Teacher aides must undergo a police background check.
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.
A minimum of three years of secondary education is recommended. Useful subjects include English, health education, languages, maths and te reo Māori.
For Year 11 to 13 learners, the Gateway programme is a good way to gain relevant experience and skills.
Teacher aides need to be:
- understanding and patient
- able to follow instructions
- able to work well under pressure
- enthusiastic, open-minded and able to motivate children
- skilled at communicating clearly with children and adults from a range of backgrounds and cultures
- practical, organised and good at solving problems quickly
- creative and adaptable
- able to work well in 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 adaptable is also really important, as you never know what direction the day is going to head in.
Useful experience for teacher aides includes:
- working with people who have a disability.
Teacher aides need to be reasonably fit as they may carry out physical tasks such as helping students with disabilities to move around.Check out related courses
What are the chances of getting a job?
High competition for teacher aide vacancies
Your chances of securing a job as a teacher aide are best if you have experience working with children or young people.
Teacher aide vacancies are increasing, but competition for them is high. This is because teacher aides only work during school hours and school terms, so the job is attractive to those wishing to work family-friendly hours locally.
According to the Census, 17,859 teacher aides worked in New Zealand in 2018.
Types of employers varied
Teacher aides work in:
- primary and intermediate schools (67%)
- secondary schools (26%)
- special schools (7%).
You can also work in the early childhood sector as an education support worker.
- Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, 'Annual Percentage Change in Advertised Job Vacancies, January 2017 to January 2018 Quarters', 20 February 2018, (www.mbie.govt.nz).
- NZEI Te Riu Roa, 'Principals' Survey: Intentions for 2018', 12 December 2017, (www.nzei.org.nz).
- Russell, A, 'Fraught and Frustrated: Parents Battle for Special Needs Children', 23 May 2017, (www.newsroom.co.nz).
- The Spinoff, 'Why Teacher Aides are Crucial to Classrooms: A Principal and an Aide Write', 29 January 2018, (www.thespinoff.co.nz).
- Stats NZ, '2018 Census Data', 2019.
- Stuff, 'School Support Staff Battle Low Wages and Lack of Job Security', 8 May 2017, (www.stuff.co.nz).
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our job opportunities information)
Progression and specialisations
Teacher aides can specialise in a number of roles, including:
- 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.
With further training, teacher aides may progress to become early childhood teachers, primary or secondary school teachers, or Kaiwhakaako Māori.
Last updated 1 December 2020