To become a teacher aide in Australia you will need to complete an education support qualification in order to learn the necessary teaching strategies, behaviour management techniques, support strategies for students with disabilities and disorders, and how to assist the teacher with operational tasks. You will also need to obtain clearances for working with children.
So you want to become a teacher aide but are not sure of exactly how to go about it? This article explains everything you need to know in order to become a teacher aide in Australia. Follow these simple yet effective steps to maximise your chances of becoming a teacher aide and finding a job in your ideal school.
Step 1: Write down your goals
Step 2: Enrol in a teacher aide course
Step 3: Develop your resume
Step 4: Apply for your clearances
Step 5: Complete your placement
Step 6: Apply directly to schools
Step 7: Apply online
Step 8: Be persistent
Before going any further down the road to becoming a teacher aide, we recommend writing down your goals. This will help you to make better decisions in some of the steps to come.
Ask yourself the following questions:
If you're wondering how to become a teacher aide, or if you are not sure whether this industry is for you, I recommend reading the following article: What do teacher aides do?
Hint: Write down your goals using the SMART format which you can read more about here.
After answering these questions and if you believe that you still want to become a teacher aide, you can now move to the second step.
Once you have decided to become a teacher aide, you will need to enrol in a course. There are several things that you should look out for when enrolling in a course such as the CHC30221 Certificate III in School Based Education Support or the CHC40221 Certificate IV in School Based Education Support:
Hint: Like anything in today’s world - cheapest is not always best. Some cheap providers have very low completion rates and you may not learn what schools want you to learn. Check that your provider's completion rate is about 75% or higher and ask to speak with a trainer before enrolling.
Another hint: before signing up for a course, ensure that the provider visits their students in the workplace as this is an invaluable mechanism that dramatically improves your professional practice and increases the chance that the school will hire you.
I recommend reading the following articles before choosing a provider:
While you are completing your teacher aide course to become a teacher aide, start putting your resume together. You can also complete step 4 at the same time.
You will need a resume in order to become a teacher aide and to apply for work as a teacher aide in Australian schools. If you already have a resume it will need to be tailored for work in schools. This means emphasising skills and traits such as interpersonal skills, building rapport, calm demeanour, and teamwork. Adding useful skills such as familiarity with certain types of programs and devices (android tablets, Microsoft Word etc.) is also viewed as a positive because schools use lots of technology these days.
If you don’t have a resume, you will need to put one together. If you asked yourself "how do I become a teacher aide" then this is the first step. ITAC have developed a basic template however this is only to get you started (it is a template only and not a polished design that you can present to schools).
Your resume does not have to be the best resume that the world has ever seen – it should however be professional, clean, neat, error-free and well-structured. Ask someone to edit your resume for spelling and formatting errors. Remember to keep your design and format consistent and professional (do not use colours such as pink or yellow for example).
Hint: Your resume is your main marketing tool to help you become a teacher aide – spend time on getting it right and keep updating it as you come up with new ideas and additions, finish short courses and so forth.
Depending on where you live and where you intend on working, you will need to obtain all the necessary clearances for working with children such as a Working With Children Check, Working With Vulnerable People Clearance, or a Blue Card for those in Queensland. We recommend submitting these forms early in your course, so you have the clearance ready for your work placement (step 5).
Read the instructions carefully and call the relevant government department if you have any questions. It is important to fill in the form correctly to avoid unnecessary delays in the processing of your application.
Your training provider will be able to give you more detailed advice on how to complete the necessary forms in your state.
Note: in some jurisdictions additional requirements may apply such as the Nationally Coordinated Police Clearance in WA.
At some point during your nationally recognised teacher aide course, you will be required to complete a placement in a registered school. When you are thinking about how to become a teacher aide, where you do your placement is a key consideration. The placement is a government requirement and is designed to help you develop your skills and knowledge in a real-world environment under the supervision and mentorship of a teacher.
Your placement, however, has a second purpose – many students end up working in the school where they undertake their placement. This is why it is important to do your best on your placement and to develop positive relationships with the school (teachers, teacher aides, front admin staff, school managers).
Towards the end of your placement, ask to be placed on the ‘relief list’ – this is the list that a person at the school keeps and uses for casual teacher aide staff. Usually an office manager (sometimes called a registrar) is in charge of this list. Your teacher will be able to give you more advice. You should also let it be known that you are available should any new contracts become available (and then provide your resume and clearance from the steps above). This is another important, effective and simple way to improve your chances of becoming a teacher aide sooner rather than later.
When choosing a provider ask them for a list of teaching strategies and techniques that they deliver in their course. Your performance while on placement, including your knowledge of and ability to implement these strategies, will determine whether you are offered a position in the future. To boost your chances of being recommended for work, ensure that you enrol with a reputable training provider who teaches the skills, techniques and strategies that teachers and schools are looking for (what is known as pedagogical knowledge).
This includes for example reading strategies such as active reading and repeated reading, behaviour management strategies, and the standard yet effective strategies that everyone should know such as scaffolding, modelling and explicit instruction. Unfortunately, many providers particularly those who teach dozens of courses in different areas, do not have the expertise to teach all of these strategies and techniques.
Once you have completed your placement (and even before finishing your course), you may consider applying for work in your local area (assuming you don't already have a suitable position and are therefore no longer wondering about how to become a teacher aide at this point). Here is what we recommend:
This is the easiest and most effective way to become a teacher aide: use a systematic approach to becoming a teacher aide and play the numbers. Note that you may not want to work 40 minutes away, however, to become a teacher aide initially, you may need to.
You can find a list of all schools in your area by searching for local schools online. Most education departments have an online directory such as schools online in WA.
The more schools that you visit the better – if you set your hopes on 1 or 2 schools, it could take years for a position to open up and you may not even learn about it (many schools hire who they know from their pool of casual staff).
We also recommend you consider schools and age groups that you may believe are intimidating or ‘not your thing'. Give it is shot for a day or two and you may be surprised (trust me as a high school teacher I have seen this hundreds of times!). Many people who want to become teacher aides avoid high schools however once they give it a shot, they really enjoy working with older children – a teacher will always be there for behaviour management issues(what seems to worry people the most when considering this path).
Hint: Ensure that you enrol with a reputable provider – schools employ dozens of teacher aides; they know which training providers produce graduates with adequate pedagogical knowledge and which do not.
When you first asked the question 'how do I become a teacher aide' or even when you first Googled 'how to become a teacher aide' you may have considered applying for positions that are advertised online. The problem is that many other people also apply for teacher aide jobs online. While these positions are genuine (in most cases) and someone must win the position, the chances of being awarded a job from this approach is not great. There are often hundreds of applicants and in many cases the actual school already knows who they intend on hiring – people who have worked in the school such as those who applied via Step 5 and who have proved themselves by working casual shifts. In saying that, why not give it a shot as you never know!
You may also find job adverts particularly for independent non-government schools on websites such as SEEK by searching for key words such as teacher aide jobs.
Bear in mind that becoming a teacher aide is a goal that may not happen overnight. It can take a few months, sometimes a year or so, to find your perfect job. To begin with however, do not be picky – take ANY work you can get. Once you have your foot in the door and proved that you are a hard worker, have a high level of pedagogical knowledge, schools will quickly start asking about your availability. Note that at this point in your career, make sure that you are available whenever they need you – you can be picky about when and where you work in a year or two.
In the meantime, there are several things that you can do to maximise your chances of finding work as a teacher aide:
Consider enrolling in a higher-level course such as the CHC40221 Certificate IV in School Based Education Support. You can add 'current enrolment' to your resume. Certainly boosting your resume (even with a 'current' course listed underneath your qualifications) will open doors and may lead you to answer your initial question: 'how to become a teacher aide'.
If you search for 'how to become a teacher aide', read this article, and still intend on becoming a teacher aide, there are a few questions you need to ask yourself: is job is for you (the extra holidays alone is not a valid reason), do you enjoy working with children (there is no escaping this particular requirement). Next you will need to complete a nationally recognised teacher aide course with a reputable provider in order to learn the essential skills required by schools. Following or during your course, prepare your resume and clearances and you are on your way to answering the question posed earlier: how do I become a teacher aide? Finally, we advise applying directly to individual schools as well as applying for positions advertised online. Becoming a teacher aide may be more challenging than you first through. The rewards, however, are worth it and few people regret their decision to become a teacher aide. Good luck with your future career!
Adam Green is an advisor to government, a registered teacher, an instructional designer and a #1 best selling author. He is completing a Doctor of Education and was previously head of department for one of the country’s largest SAER (students at educational risk) schools. Adam is managing director of ITAC, an accredited training provider for thousands of teacher aides every year.
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