As students with disabilities more commonly entered the mainstream classroom, time-poor teachers needed an additional mechanism in which to juggle the demands of non-disabled students, with the complex individual needs of students with learning, physical, mental and behavioural disorders and disabilities – hence the rise of the special needs teacher’s aide.
In this article, we answer the most common questions regarding teacher’s aide courses in Queensland – taken from thousands of enquiries over the years. This guide is useful for anyone considering this rewarding, dynamic and ever-changing industry.
Key take-outs from this article:
The majority of teacher’s aides in Queensland earn approximately $30 per hour. The exact pay can range from as low as $23-$33 or even higher depending on the position you are employed to undertake. Some teacher’s aides work in mainstream classes with students who have special needs and are therefore paid a higher salary than those who do not work with special needs students. This is due to the fact that working with special needs requires a higher level of knowledge and understanding of a range of complex disabilities, strategies, processes and policies.
The highest paid teacher’s aides are those who work in special needs centres or special needs schools – often also called education support centres. These are schools that operate within or are attached to a larger mainstream school. They quite often have their own deputy and/or principal yet operate independently from the main school. They may have the same or a similar name and hence are often overlooked by job hunters.
Hint: Remember to apply for work (including relief work) in special needs schools – the majority of teacher’s aides work in special needs centres and they are quite often looking for new staff.
There are a range of positions and specialist roles filled by teacher’s aides in Australian schools. The earnings and pay one can expect varies depending on several factors such as:
Broadly speaking, many teacher’s aides earn $30 per hour and work approximately 32 hours per week (over five days). The average teacher’s aide in Queensland therefore is earning about $1000 per week.
The most common process and first step to become a teacher’s aide is to complete a nationally recognised qualification with a reputable provider. The two main courses to become a teacher’s aide in Queensland is the CHC30213 Certificate III in Education Support and the CHC40213 Certificate IV in Education Support. Both are government funded for those who are eligible. See our website for further details.
In the past it was not necessary to complete a qualification and many teacher’s aides did not hold a certificate or any kind. These days, almost all schools require that their support staff hold a certificate or qualification of some description – and, if they don’t hold it – they will be working towards completing it. Schools need to know that all of their staff represent maximum value for money and are well trained in key areas such as:
Once you have enrolled and completed (or nearly completed) your nationally recognised qualification, you can begin looking for work as a teacher’s aide in your local community. We recommend putting your name down at 20 or more schools where you are willing to work. The more schools you are willing to work at, the higher your chances of finding work and the sooner you are likely to be hired. Most graduates eventually manage to find work within a reasonable and comfortable travel distance from their home. However, if you are narrowing down your search to less than 5 schools, you are limiting your opportunities and chances of success.
It is important to organise your clearances and prepare a professional resume. We have a resume builder and introductory letter template on FTTA’s website – free, easy to use and no sign-up required.
For obvious reasons, we can’t promise that every person who wants to become a teacher’s aide, will find a job as a teacher’s aide. We certainly can’t promise a job in the school of your choosing. However, most graduates tend to find work in their local community following their course.
Many students who enter our training programs have an idea of where they would like to work, although, by the time they finish their course, they have a very different set of goals in mind. Many students (after or before enrolment) tell us that they would like to work in lower school classes. However, once they start learning about other opportunities, such as special needs or in high schools, they are more open to alternative options. The more you are open to trying things outside of your comfort zone, the easier it will be to find work as a teacher’s aide.
In general, we find that most students do not struggle to find work, provided they have a suitable demeanour to work in schools and enjoy working with people and children. As we have discussed earlier, it really depends on your search parameters. If you are only willing to work at one school, then your chances of finding work in the near future is limited and even then, only if someone leaves the school. This is like saying that you will only work in one particular store in one particular shopping centre – it limits your options.
Most students initially find work by applying for relief or casual work in a variety of the schools near them (20-30 minutes’ drive) and then working casual relief until a long-term contract becomes available. This can happen quite quickly, depending on the needs of the school. Sometimes, however, it takes more persistence (assuming of course, you are looking for contract work – many prefer relief and the flexibility it provides – as well as the 25% per hour loading).
Finding work may also depends on whether you have completed a qualification from a reputable provider and the quality of the training provided. Schools like to know that you have completed your course with a reputable provider so they can be confident in your abilities. Don’t skimp on investing in your education and choose a quality provider.
At the time of writing this you can study the CHC30213 Certificate III in Education Support and the CHC40213 Certificate IV in Education Support online in Queensland and in all areas. Online can mean various things however, depending on the provider, so it is important to ask questions such as about the types of resources you will be provided and how much support the RTO is actually going to offer you.
For example, you should ensure that the provider that you enrol with visits you in the workplace while you are undertaking your work placement. This is essential for two key reasons. Firstly, it is probably that the only time that you will have a professional educator observe you and provide feedback. This feedback can include ways to improve the delivery of strategies and techniques in order to:
This can be absolutely essential and greatly assist your chances of being offered work by the school. This service, according to feedback from our students, schools and trainers, can drastically improve your quality of service that you provide to the school community and specifically to your students.
The second reason that trainer’s support is important in the workplace, is just in case something goes wrong. Even the best students have trouble from time to time and if something goes wrong, you will be thankful for a quick site visit from your trainer who can (hopefully) resolve the problem.
Online courses generally don’t mean that you will be sitting and staring at a computer screen 8 hours a day for months on end. While studying online does mean using the internet regularly, there are a range of other activities that you will complete. At least this is the case with most reputable providers. For example, our students work through activities online and offline; they listen to pre-recorded webinars and classroom lectures – often while taking the dog for a walk, catching the train or sitting on a plane. Students can also watch and interact with other students in our regular scheduled online lectures, chat to trainers and ask questions via the webinar platform.
Without repeating the information available under the courses tab of our website, we will provide a brief overview of the main components of this course.
Firstly, we have already discussed various aspects of the work placement and the fact that it is completed in a local school. During your work placement you will complete a range of activities such as assisting the teacher and supporting students, in the lead up to your workplace assessment. In this assessment, your trainer visits the school and observes you completing a range of tasks such as helping students with reading and writing.
Another aspect of your course is the theory assessments. The theory assessments are comprised of short answer questions, mini projects, case studies and other activities of that nature. There are no essays or long reports. You certainly don’t need to be an academic scholar to enrol and complete the CHC30213 Certificate III in Education Support or the CHC40213 Certificate IV in Education Support – many people are apprehensive pre-enrolment and imagine writing dozens of essays and reports – this simply is not the case.
Below are some examples of what you can expect to see in your course for both the CHC30213 Certificate III in Education Support and the CHC40213 Certificate IV in Education Support. *
Note that while that course is nationally recognised, no two RTOs are the same, nor do they use the same materials: the samples provided are only available to FTTA students.
Teacher’s assistants and teacher’s aides are two terms that mean the same thing in almost all cases. Other terms are commonly used depending on your location such as:
If you have travelled overseas such as in the US, you may have heard of terms such as paraprofessional and paraeducator. All these terms are effectively the same thing, sometimes with minor and slight differences. Teacher’s aide is the common phrase used by the general public and by most countries around the world. The term is considered a tad old fashioned, as it tends to indicate that the person is only there as a personal assistant to the teacher. More modern titles (especially those with the word ‘support’ or ‘education’ in the title) is giving reference to the fact that most teacher’s aides in this day and age, spend the majority of their time working with students one on one or in small groups.
In the past, teacher’s aide were first hired to assist teachers with clerical type activities (well before the invention of modern computers). As time went by, people in these positions started helping students more and more. In the last decade or two, alongside the rise of concepts such as inclusivity and diversity - governments, unions and the community have normalised the ubiquitous use of teacher’s aides, especially as the main means of supporting students with complex needs.
As students with disabilities more commonly entered the mainstream classroom, time-poor teachers needed an additional mechanism in which to juggle the demands of mainstream non-disabled students, with the complex individual needs of students with learning, physical, mental and behavioural disorders and disabilities.
It is widely known that the diagnosis of some disabilities and disorders have increased over time. Autism (ASD) including Asperger's is an example of this phenomenon. There are varying explanations to why this is the case but regardless it has meant that more and more teacher’s aides have been required by schools.
It is also important to note that in some countries such as the US, a two-year diploma is required in order to work as a paraprofessional or paraeducator in most states.
Generally, the course will take approximately six months to complete – this is an average – some take 9, some 4 – there are various factors that need to be considered such as previous experience.
There is also a large variance in the amount of time per week that students dedicate to their studies. Some students can only manage a few hours whereas other dedicate 20, 30 or 40+ hours. it really depends on:
Think of it like this - how long does it take to bake a cake? How long does it take to walk a dog? All these things can really depend on the person. It can also depend on the topic. If you have worked in mining, construction or another industry with an emphasis on ‘work health and safety’ then you’ll find the first topic in the CHC30213 Certificate III in Education Support and the CHC40213 Certificate IV in Education Support rather easy - the first topic is “work health and safety”.
Here’s another way to think about it - how long will it take you to read a chapter and answer 10 or 15 activity questions? Some students will be able to do this in an hour or two whereas others will need to read it many times over a period of a week, do some research, ask some questions, attend a tutorial, and so forth.
In general, if you have worked with (or raised) children in the past, or been employed in similar industries such as aged care or child care, you should move through the course at a very reasonable pace without too much trouble.
You have two options when considering enrolling in the CHC30213 Certificate III in Education Support or the CHC40213 Certificate IV in Education Support in Queensland.
The first option is to enrol with a private provider such as FTTA. As a private provider, we specialise in delivering nationally recognised teacher’s aide courses to adult learners. Here at FTTA, the average age of our students is 37. Our trainers case manage students, who need flexible, yet supportive study programs – students study when they can, around other commitments such as work, family and health.
The TAFE system on the other hand is generally geared towards students who are younger or live in regional and rural areas. Many students who are currently in high school or have recently graduated from high school, enrol in TAFE so they can be in class several days per week (TAFE in this way, is an extension of high school).
You can find out additional information about teacher’s aide courses in Queensland by contacting FTTA, reading more of these articles or the various other information sources available on our website. Feel free to give us a call or send us an email with any questions you may have specific to your situation. As a specialist go-to provider with thousands of enrolments per year - if we don’t know the answer - no one will.
So far you have discovered some of the opportunities in Queensland for those seeking a new and exciting career as a teacher’s aide or teacher’s assistant. But first, a few challenges lay in your way – where to study? What to study? We have tried to answer some of these questions, as well as many of the common enquiries we receive each and every day – pay, allowances, holidays, courses, modes, support, difficulty etc. If you have further questions, please do not hesitate to contact one of our student advisers – good luck out there!
*Example from learner guide
Emergency procedures are developed for a range of critical incidents including fire, explosion, chemical release, violence or dangerous weather conditions.
Your school will have an emergency procedure for each of the following:
Practicing emergency drills help to prevent panic and improve the effectiveness of the procedures. Your school will organise regular drills. Evacuation plans must be displayed at the exit point of all rooms and school buildings. (The State of Queensland, 2013)
Some important points to remember include:
Generally speaking, the following will happen if there is an emergency (such as a bomb threat):
Supervision is the never-ending process of observing what is happening around you. In some cases, you will need to supervise children very closely whereas in other situations you can give students more freedom. In deciding what level of supervision is required, you will need to consider:
There are four approaches or types of supervision. You may use a combination of these 4 types of supervision depending on the needs of the situation.
A person wields power in an authoritarian manner and expects obedience from others based on their position of power.
A person in charge is relaxed and casual in their approach to supervising others and may let others manage the task.
A person in charge asks those being supervised for agreement and input into the rules and activity.
The person in charge carefully follows the relevant policies or procedures without much interpretation.
Plan Scan Act (PSA) is an easy to remember strategy to help ensure sufficient supervision during all activities.
Be aware of the following to help minimise risks when supervising:
Advanced supervision strategies
Develop an emergency action plan
Increase adult to student ratio
Inspect areas before visiting
Information provided in permission slips
Changes to timetables
Discussions with transport providers and local authorities
On-going assessment of grounds and facilities
Expectations for behaviour clearly articulated
Additional training for staff
Use of portable communication equipment
The circle concept teaches children what is appropriate and inappropriate as far as personal space. Each circle represents how close a particular type of person is allowed to get to the child. This tool is particularly useful for teaching children with disabilities.
For example, a family member may hug the child whereas a stranger should not get that close.
Consent is getting someone’s permission to do something. In a school setting the main reason you will need a student’s consent is it make physical contact with them. This may be required if they are injured (and conscious), they need assistance with toileting or for any number of activities such as doing up a seat belt.
Note that you should never:
As a rule, you should not touch children unless it is absolutely necessary to do so. Obviously, this depends also on the students’ age and the situation and you should use your professional judgement.
Once you have asked a child if you can make contact with them and they agree, you are said to them have obtained ‘informed consent.’ Informed consent means the person understood your question and then agreed. An example of informed consent:
You: Can I do up your shoelace for you?
Student: Okay Mrs. Brown.
In the example above, the TA asked for consent, obtained consent, and then completed the task exactly as described to the student. This simple process will help protect you legally should a complaint be lodged.
‘Mandatory reporting is a term used to describe the legislative requirement for selected groups of people to report suspected cases of child abuse and neglect to government authorities.’ (Australian Institute of Family Studies, 2017). Read the latest information at the following web address to see if you are a mandatory reporter and what you legally must report. If in doubt always speak to your manager.
Adam Green is a former teacher, member of the government’s Education Support Industry Advisory Group, MD at FTTA, and a post-graduate researcher at Murdoch university.
Disclaimer: Information provided in this article is general, may not be relevant to you, is not legal advice and no guarantee of accuracy is provided. Users should seek expert advice before relying on any information provided in this article.
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With more than 4000 graduates, FTTA is the go-to provider for teacher's aide courses. 1 in 2 students choose to study the CHC40213 Certificate IV in Education Support with FTTA.