This article has been developed for those who are considering a career as a teacher's aide in South Australia (what is commonly known as SSOs or School Support Officers in SA). As the go-to provider for teacher's aide courses such as the CHC40213 Certificate IV in Education Support, we get asked these questions every day – now we happily provide this information for free to everyone so you can make the best decision about the right course, provider and mode.
You will need to complete a nationally recognised qualification (preferably with FTTA of course!) such as the CHC30213 Certificate III in Education Support or the CHC40213 Certificate IV in Education Support. You will need to obtain the necessary clearances to work with children as well as prepare a professional resume. Finally let schools know that you are looking to work whether that is full-time, casual, part time etc. To maximise your chanced of employment, we recommend contacting as many schools as you can. This means 10-20 schools for most people.
The less willing you are to apply for work in certain schools or school types, such as high schools or special needs, the less of a chance you have of finding work. Be flexible and open to new challenges - you may be surprised by how much you enjoy working in some of these schools, if you give them a chance.
High schools and especially senior colleges can also be an option that is often overlooked or dismissed. Bear in mind that you are not required to be the English or maths expert – that's the teacher's responsibility. At any rate, you will almost certainly be working with special needs students (such as Autism Spectrum Disorder, behavioural and learning disorders), and hence the academic level can be quite varied (from year 1 to 12 depending on the individual). Your job is to provide differentiated instruction (making adjustments to activities so the student can participate).
If you are enrolling or considering enrolling in an SSO course in SA, you have 2 options. The first option is to enrol with a well know reputable provider such as FTTA. This is best for students who are looking for supported online or distance learning. Our courses are suitable for adult learners who have busy lives and cannot afford to be in class on a regular basis.
If however, you are a younger student such as in year 11 or 12, you might consider enrolling in the local TAFE. The TAFE system is known to be geared towards supporting students who are younger or who are from regional and rural areas. This is why we say that the TAFE system and FTTA are not in competition, at least as far as teacher's aides courses are concerned - FTTA and TAFE serve two completely different markets.
It is important to also note that you should not always enrol with a provider that offers the cheapest course fee. This is because the overall cost to complete the course should also be considered. The overall cost includes the course fee plus additional costs such as textbooks, work placement fees and unit by unit fees. Ensure that at the very least, the following services are available:
If for instance, a trainer does not visit you in the workplace while you complete your placement, you will miss out on important advice that will help you grow and develop as an SSO or teacher's aides. In fact, your work placement may be the last opportunity for a trainer to observe you and provide feedback on how to improve. This service is essential to your professional development and career. There may be some simple and easy ways that you can improve your floor craft for example, that is only picked up when a trainer visits you in the classroom.
Yes - school support officers and teacher's aides are exactly the same thing. School support officers or SSO is the term used for teacher's aides in South Australia. Most states in Australia each use a different term for teacher's aides.
The reason we use teacher's aides throughout these articles is because this is the most common term used across the world and by the general public who have not yet been employed as an SSO or teacher's aides. For example, you may have not heard the term “education assistant” which is used in Western Australia, learning support officer used in New South Wales or integration aide used in Victoria.
Teacher's aide is by far the most common term, is in no way meant to be offensive, and is a broad-based term referring to anyone who supports teachers and students in a school (excluding people who work in other areas such as administration). There are lots of different types of school support officers such as:
This is a hard question to answer with absolute accuracy because it depends on the person. Our experience is that most students don't struggle with the CHC30213 Certificate III in Education Support or the CHC40213 Certificate IV in Education Support. I need to stress the word 'most' - regardless of how easy or difficult the course may be, there will always be some students who will struggle for various reasons.
We find that students don't struggle with the course content but may struggle with keeping a high level of motivation, dedication and commitment. This is because other things in your life can interrupt your studies such as winning the lottery, hospital and medical issues, travel, family issues and commitments, renovations, work and other things of that nature. Any of these interruptions and distractions can affect the time it takes to complete a program.
Below you will see some examples from the CHC40213 Certificate IV in Education Support. * As you can see, most of our courses are practical and very relevant to working in a school as an SSO or teacher's aide. You will find that the CHC30213 Certificate III in Education Support is very similar and not that much easier than the higher-level qualification. The CHC40213 Certificate IV in Education Support specialises in special needs whereas the CHC30213 Certificate III in Education Support is more of a broad-based qualification.
Generally, this course will take approximately 6 months to complete although this is a very broad average. Some students will complete it in half that time while others will take twice as long. It ultimately depends on a range of factors such as how much you have studied in the past, your experience with children and how much time each week you are able to devote to your studies. To use an analogy - how long does it take to bake a cake? Some people take half an hour and others will take 4 hours.
Teacher's aides and school support officers (SSOs) in South Australia can expect to earn approximately $30 per hour by our estimations. The exact pay depends on the type of position that you will be undertaking.
A teacher's aide working in a special needs classroom/school or with a student with special needs is normally paid a higher rate per hour. On the other hand, if you are working in a mainstream classroom such in year 1, year 2, year 3 and kindergarten, you will be paid at a lower rate. At this level, teacher's aides in South Australia earn around the $24-27 mark per hour.
Special needs teacher's aides in South Australia are typically paid around the $30 mark due to the fact that working with special needs is often:
You may have noticed some websites on the internet indicate that teacher's aides are paid an average rate lower than $30. The calculation is based on the middle point between the lowest paid teacher's aide and the highest paid – it is not an average but a middle point of the published pay scales.
In reality the vast majority of teacher's aides work in special needs schools or with special needs students. They are therefore paid at a rate commensurate with that level of responsibility – towards to the top of the pay scales. There are also a range of other reasons why you may be paid a little bit more such as if you are working in a regional or rural school which may attract a regional allowance.
Many schools employ 10-20 teacher's aides. This is the case in regional, rural and metro schools – all across South Australia and not just Adelaide. There are over 700 schools in South Australia according to the government. Based on these numbers alone, and the fact that most teacher's aides are part time, finding a teacher's aide job in South Australia is more than possible.
For obvious reasons, we can't guarantee that you will find a position, but we think there are plenty of opportunities out there for the right person. You will need a nationally recognised qualification from a reputable provider, clearances (which your prover will assist with) and of course the right personality, demeanour and a love of working with children and people. This is after all, a people business.
To improve your chances of finding a teacher's aide job, we recommend the following:
If you live in a regional or rural area, it may be a little more difficult to find immediate work as a teacher's aides or school support officer due to the limited number of schools, positions, students who need support etc. In these cases, it can be even more important to network, ask around, do some voluntary work etc.
Finding work in high schools can be a little easier because a lot of teacher's aides won't consider working in the high school environment. High schools can have a 'bad' reputation especially in low socioeconomic areas often due to media attention on things like violence in schools.
We believe this view is generally unfounded because the experience of our teacher's aides tell a very different story. Being a former high school teacher myself, I highly recommend that you consider high schools as they are not as crazy or stressful as many believe. High schools are no more difficult, stressful or challenging than working in a primary school. Remember that you will always be working under the direction of a qualified teacher.
As we have discussed earlier, your two main options are TAFE and FTTA. Private providers like FTTA specialise in teaching adult learners who need flexibility and structured, supported programs. For example, our students are typically very busy caring for children and earning a living – while study is important – it isn't the only important thing, and everything has to be balanced.
The TAFE system is geared towards younger students such as those in high school or those that have recently left high school. This is not to say that older students don't enrol in TAFE or younger students don't enrol with FTTA, but typically speaking TAFE is known for younger students and FTTA for mature aged students - the average age of an FTTA student is 37.
It is best to enrol with a provider that you feel comfortable with, that has a good reputation and who best meets your needs. It is also important to note that enrolling in a course because it is a little bit cheaper may mean that the course costs you a lot more overall – better support for example, means a quicker course and fewer delays, not to mention a better experience – the sooner you finish, the sooner you start earning!
If you have additional questions about teacher's aides courses in South Australia, we recommend contacting FTTA. We have also produced lots of other articles similar to this on specific topics. Our friendly admin team is available to answer any questions that you may have. Feel free to call, email or even drop into our office for a chat. As the go-to provider for SSO or teacher's aides courses in Australia, we get hundreds of questions everyday - if we don't know the answer, its more than likely that no one does!
This article has discussed a range of topics, issues and questions relevant to working as a teacher's aide or school support officer (SSO) in Adelaide and throughout South Australia. We have covered in depth:
*Example from FTTA's learner guide:
Modern learning methods advocate teaching spelling and grammar with real world and commonly used texts (called authentic texts). For example, if the class is learning how to write lists and menus, then the spelling words should come from a menu or at least have something to do with food or hospitality.
Students may spend some time memorising words and use techniques such as look-cover-write-check. You could turn this into a competition. Give students three minutes to memorise a new list and have a mini competition on who can recall the most words and spell them correctly.
Characteristics of effective spellers
The following spelling strategies are very common and effective:
You can ask students the following questions to help them edit their work:
Punctuation plays an important part in helping people make meaning from a text. Punctuation makes the process of reading and understanding something much easier and quicker. For example, consider the difference between the following sentences:
I want to go to the zoo.
I want to go to the zoo?
I want to go to the zoo!
I want to go to the zoo…
I want to go…to the zoo!!
I want to go to the 'zoo'.
You can think of grammar as being the 'rules' of a language. When people talk about grammar, they are mainly referring to the structure of sentences and punctuation. Children generally don't learn grammar explicitly especially in the early years. This means that grammar is not taught on its own but is learnt indirectly through other tasks such as reading and writing practice.
Using the sentence 'Peter walked to the zoo.' you can see the following grammatical rules being followed:
Students will make a range of common mistakes depending on their age and the text. Some of the more common mistakes include:
Adam Green is an advisor to government, a former teacher, an instructional designer and an 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 Fast Track Training Australia, an accredited training provider for thousands of teacher aides every year.
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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.
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