Postsecondary Teaching Assistant Career Guide 2024

Table of Contents

Postsecondary Teaching Assistant Salary in United States for 2023

Average Annual Salary: $38,050 

Data sourced from the U.S. Department of Labor via the ONET Web API. Updated at December 8, 2023

Best Colleges and Universities for Postsecondary Teaching Assistants in 2023

Best College Majors for Postsecondary Teaching Assistants in 2023

Projected Job Employment for Postsecondary Teaching Assistant:

Estimated YearProjected YearEstimated EmploymentProjected Employment% ChangeProjected Annual Job Opening

Postsecondary Teaching Assistant Career Path Overview

Embarking on a career path as a Postsecondary Teaching Assistant involves assisting faculty members with instructional duties at colleges or universities. They are responsible for conducting lab or study sessions, grading assignments and exams, helping students understand course material, and sometimes even teaching classes. This is a highly rewarding profession that requires extensive knowledge in a specific academic field, excellent communication skills, and the ability to work with diverse groups of students.

Required Education and Skills

A bachelor's degree is typically required to become a Postsecondary Teaching Assistant, although many institutions prefer candidates with a master's degree or higher. The degree should be in the subject they wish to teach or in a closely related field. In addition to formal education, potential teaching assistants should have strong communication skills to explain complex concepts effectively. They should also possess critical thinking skills to analyze student performance and provide constructive feedback. Organizational skills are necessary for managing class materials and grading assignments.

Career Advancement Opportunities

Postsecondary Teaching Assistants often use their role as a stepping stone toward becoming full-time faculty members at colleges and universities. After gaining experience and proving their expertise in a subject, they may be offered positions as adjunct or full-time professors. Furthermore, continuing education and acquiring advanced degrees can also lead to more opportunities. For instance, earning a Ph.D. can open doors to roles like department chair or dean.

Job Outlook and Salary Expectations

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for Postsecondary Teaching Assistants is projected to grow 9% from 2019 to 2029, faster than the average for all occupations. The median annual wage for Postsecondary Teaching Assistants was $33,700 in May 2019, per BLS data. However, salaries can vary widely depending on the institution, the assistant's level of education, and the subject they teach.

Work Environment

Postsecondary Teaching Assistants typically work in classrooms, laboratories, and offices in colleges and universities. They often have flexible schedules, which can include evening or weekend hours to accommodate students' needs. Some teaching assistants may also work part-time. The role can be intellectually stimulating and rewarding, as it provides the opportunity to foster students' understanding and appreciation of a particular subject. However, it can also be challenging, as it requires managing multiple responsibilities while maintaining high academic standards.

Postsecondary Teaching Assistant Career Path Education and Training

The path to becoming a Postsecondary Teaching Assistant involves acquiring specific educational qualifications and undergoing relevant training. This journey typically begins with earning a bachelor's degree, followed by a master's degree or Ph.D. in the subject of interest. The educational journey is complemented by practical teaching experience, which can be gained through teaching assistantships during graduate studies.

Bachelor's Degree

The first step in the Postsecondary Teaching Assistant career path is obtaining a bachelor's degree. This is a broad foundation that provides the necessary knowledge in your chosen subject area. It could be in education, science, arts, mathematics, or any other discipline depending on your interest and career goals. Some programs may also offer courses that provide an introduction to teaching methods at the postsecondary level.

Graduate Studies

After earning a bachelor's degree, aspiring Postsecondary Teaching Assistants usually proceed to graduate school to acquire a master's degree or Ph.D. in their chosen field. This advanced study provides a deeper understanding of the subject matter and prepares you for teaching at a higher level. Some institutions may allow students to teach undergraduate classes as part of their graduate program, providing practical teaching experience while still in school.

Teaching Assistantships

Teaching assistantships are often part of graduate programs and are pivotal in the training process for a future Postsecondary Teaching Assistant. They offer hands-on experience in teaching under the supervision of experienced professors. These positions often involve assisting with lectures, leading discussion groups, grading papers, and even developing course materials.

Certification and Licensure

While certification isn't typically required for Postsecondary Teaching Assistants, some institutions may prefer candidates who have earned teaching certification in their subject area. Additionally, certain specialized fields may require licensure. For instance, those planning to teach in the healthcare field may need to have a professional license.

Continuing Education

In the ever-evolving academic world, staying updated with the latest developments in your subject area is crucial. Postsecondary Teaching Assistants are often encouraged to engage in continuing education through workshops, seminars, and conferences. This not only enhances their knowledge but also provides networking opportunities with other professionals in the field. In summary, the Postsecondary Teaching Assistant career path requires extensive education and training. A solid foundation in your chosen field, complemented by practical teaching experience, will equip you with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in this role.

Postsecondary Teaching Assistant Career Path Progression

Becoming a Postsecondary Teaching Assistant (TA) is a rewarding career that offers vast opportunities for growth and development. This profession is a stepping stone to more advanced educational roles such as lecturers, professors, or administrators in higher education institutions.

Educational Requirements and Entry-Level Position

The career path for a postsecondary teaching assistant typically begins with a Bachelor's degree in the field of interest. However, depending on the subject area or the academic institution, a Master’s or even a Doctoral degree may be required. Some institutions may also require TAs to be enrolled in a graduate program at the institution. As an entry-level position, postsecondary teaching assistants primarily assist faculty members with instructional responsibilities. This may include conducting laboratory sessions or study groups, grading papers and exams, or assisting with course preparation.

Developing Expertise and Advancement

As teaching assistants gain experience and demonstrate competence, they may be given increased responsibilities. This could include leading their own classes under the supervision of faculty members, designing course materials, or conducting independent research. Many TAs pursue further academic qualifications while working. Earning a Ph.D. is often necessary for advancement into full-fledged teaching or research positions at universities and colleges.

Transitioning into Full-Time Teaching Roles

After gaining substantial experience and advanced degrees, many postsecondary teaching assistants transition into full-time teaching roles. They may become lecturers or associate professors, responsible for developing and teaching their own courses. Some TAs might also choose to specialize in a particular area of their discipline, becoming subject matter experts and leading specialized seminars or workshops.

Leadership Roles in Academia

As postsecondary teaching assistants advance in their careers, they can move into leadership roles within academia. These can include department heads, deans of academic faculties, or university administrators. These positions require a deep understanding of the educational field, excellent leadership skills, and often substantial teaching and administrative experience. In conclusion, a career as a postsecondary teaching assistant offers a clear path for progression, with opportunities for continuous learning, specialization, and leadership roles within higher education. It's a rewarding choice for those who are passionate about education and are committed to contributing to academic excellence.

Postsecondary Teaching Assistant Career Path Specializations and Subfields

In the world of academia, the role of a Postsecondary Teaching Assistant (TA) is both versatile and expansive. It serves as a stepping stone for aspiring educators or researchers, providing them with first-hand experience in teaching, research, and administration. Depending on their interests, TAs can specialize in various subfields, each offering distinct responsibilities and opportunities for growth.

Academic Disciplines

One of the most common ways to specialize as a TA is through academic disciplines. TAs usually assist in subjects that align with their own field of study. For instance, a graduate student pursuing a Master's degree in Mathematics might work as a TA in undergraduate Math classes. The academic disciplines range from Arts and Humanities, Social Sciences, Natural and Applied Sciences, to Professional and Applied Studies.

Research Assistantships

For those interested in delving into research, there are research assistantships. Research assistants often work alongside professors or principal investigators, assisting them in various aspects of research projects. This could include literature review, data collection and analysis, lab work, writing reports, and even co-authoring papers. This specialization is particularly suitable for those intending to pursue a career in academia or research-based industries.

Administrative Roles

Some TAs may choose to specialize in administrative roles within academic departments. These roles involve managing course logistics, coordinating with other TAs, maintaining records, preparing course materials, and sometimes even assisting in curriculum development. This path is ideal for individuals who enjoy organization and management within an academic setting.

Tutoring Roles

Tutoring is another subfield where TAs can specialize. In this role, TAs provide one-on-one or small group instruction to students who need additional help understanding course material. They may also assist students in developing study strategies and improving academic skills. This specialization offers a more personalized teaching experience and can be highly rewarding for those who enjoy helping others succeed acadically.

Instructional Design

With the rise of online learning, there's an increasing demand for TAs with expertise in instructional design. These TAs work closely with faculty to develop online courses, create engaging digital content, and implement effective online teaching strategies. This specialization requires a strong understanding of pedagogy and technology, making it an excellent choice for those interested in the intersection of education and technology. Each of these specializations and subfields offers unique opportunities to gain valuable experience, acquire new skills, and make significant contributions to the academic community. By understanding these different paths, prospective Postsecondary Teaching Assistants can better align their career decisions with their long-term goals and aspirations.

Postsecondary Teaching Assistant Career Path Job Market and Outlook

The job market for Postsecondary Teaching Assistants is highly competitive, yet promising. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 9% growth in employment for Postsecondary Teaching Assistants from 2019 to 2029, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. This growth can largely be attributed to the increasing number of students enrolling in postsecondary institutions and the continuous need for experienced educators to enhance the academic experience. Postsecondary Teaching Assistants play a pivotal role in the academic community. They not only provide support to professors but also contribute significantly to the learning process of students. With their growing importance, universities and colleges are increasingly recognizing the need to hire more teaching assistants. As such, opportunities for Postsecondary Teaching Assistants are expected to rise in the coming years. However, it's important to note that the job market can vary depending on the field of study. For instance, fields like science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) often have more openings due to higher student enrollments and the complexity of subjects. On the other hand, liberal arts subjects may have fewer opportunities. Therefore, aspiring Postsecondary Teaching Assistants should consider their field of study when thinking about job prospects. In terms of outlook, many Postsecondary Teaching Assistants use their experience as a stepping stone towards higher academic or administrative roles. This includes becoming a lecturer, professor, or even an academic administrator. The experience gained as a teaching assistant provides valuable insights into the workings of academia, making it an excellent foundation for advancement. To stay competitive in this job market, Postsecondary Teaching Assistants are advised to continually update their knowledge and skills. This could be through additional training, attending academic conferences, or pursuing further studies. Maintaining a strong network within academia can also provide valuable opportunities for professional development and potential job openings. In conclusion, while the job market for Postsecondary Teaching Assistants is competitive, it also offers a wealth of opportunities for those passionate about education and academic growth. With the right skills, experience, and a willingness to learn, aspiring teaching assistants can make a significant impact in the postsecondary education sector.

Postsecondary Teaching Assistant Career Path Salary and Compensation

In the realm of academia, the role of a Postsecondary Teaching Assistant (TA) is crucial. They play a significant part in shaping the future generations by assisting professors in their teaching duties. Understanding the potential salary and compensation involved in this career path can help aspiring TAs make informed decisions about their professional journey. The salary and compensation for Postsecondary Teaching Assistants can vary based on factors such as location, experience, specialization, and the type of institution they work for. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as of May 2020, the median annual wage for graduate teaching assistants in the United States was $34,370. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $20,830, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $61,320.

Factors Influencing Salary

Several key factors influence the salary of Postsecondary Teaching Assistants. Firstly, geography plays a significant role. For instance, TAs working in metropolitan cities or regions with high living costs often command higher salaries compared to those in rural areas. Secondly, experience matters. Novice TAs might start with a lower salary range, but with increased experience and demonstrated teaching abilities, they can expect a gradual rise in their compensation. Lastly, the type of institution also impacts TA salaries. Private institutions generally offer higher salaries than public ones. However, public institutions may provide other benefits like job security and retirement plans.

Additional Compensation

Aside from direct monetary compensation, Postsecondary Teaching Assistants might also enjoy other forms of remuneration. Many universities offer tuition waivers or reductions for TAs. This can be an attractive benefit for those pursuing further education. Furthermore, some institutions provide health insurance and other benefits. These additional forms of compensation can significantly contribute to the overall remuneration package, making the position of a Postsecondary Teaching Assistant a viable career choice for many.

Salary Growth Potential

Career advancement opportunities can also influence a TA's earning potential. TAs may progress to higher-paying positions such as full-time lecturers or professors, administrative roles, or even department heads, all of which come with increased salaries. This career progression often requires further education, such as a doctoral degree, and several years of teaching experience. In conclusion, while the initial salary for a Postsecondary Teaching Assistant may not be exceptionally high, the potential for growth, combined with additional benefits like tuition waivers and health insurance, make it an attractive career path for those passionate about education and academia.

Postsecondary Teaching Assistant Career Path Tips for Success

Embarking on a career as a postsecondary teaching assistant can be a fulfilling and rewarding journey. Whether you're drawn to academia, have a passion for teaching, or see this role as a stepping stone to becoming a full-fledged professor, these tips for success will set you on the right path.

1. Pursue Higher Education

A key prerequisite for becoming a postsecondary teaching assistant is obtaining an advanced degree. Most institutions require a master's degree, but a doctoral degree is preferred in some fields. This not only equips you with the necessary knowledge to guide students but also boosts your credibility in the academic field.

2. Gain Relevant Experience

Building relevant experience is crucial for success in this career path. You can gain experience through internships, part-time jobs, or even volunteering in educational settings. This gives you practical exposure to teaching methodologies, curriculum development, and student engagement strategies.

3. Develop Excellent Communication Skills

As a postsecondary teaching assistant, your role involves clear communication with students, faculty, and other staff members. Therefore, it's essential to develop strong verbal and written communication skills. This helps in delivering lectures effectively, providing constructive feedback, and fostering an inclusive learning environment.

4. Cultivate Time Management Skills

Balancing teaching responsibilities with research and studies can be challenging. Therefore, cultivating strong time management skills is crucial. This includes prioritizing tasks, setting realistic deadlines, and optimizing productivity without compromising on quality.

5. Network with Academic Professionals

Networking is a valuable tool in the academic field. By connecting with fellow teaching assistants, professors, and other education professionals, you can gain insights into best practices, learn about job opportunities, and receive mentorship.

6. Stay Current with Educational Trends

The educational landscape is continually evolving. Staying updated with the latest educational trends, teaching strategies, and technological advancements can provide an edge in your career. This can be achieved by attending academic conferences, webinars, and workshops or subscribing to relevant educational journals.

7. Seek Continuous Professional Development

In the world of academia, continuous learning is the norm. Seek opportunities for professional development to enhance your teaching skills and broaden your knowledge base. This could include attending training programs, obtaining certifications, or pursuing further studies. By following these tips for success, you can navigate the postsecondary teaching assistant career path with confidence and reach your professional goals in this rewarding field of education.

What is a Postsecondary Teaching Assistant?

A Postsecondary Teaching Assistant, also known as a Graduate Teaching Assistant or TA, is a qualified individual who assists professors, faculty, and other academic staff in colleges or universities. Their roles often include grading papers, leading small group discussions, supervising labs, and sometimes lecturing students when the professor is unavailable.

What does a Postsecondary Teaching Assistant do?

A Postsecondary Teaching Assistant's primary responsibility is to support the faculty in their teaching tasks. This includes preparing lectures and assignments, grading exams and papers, and providing additional instruction to students during office hours or study sessions. They may also be responsible for managing online learning platforms, recording grades, and assisting with research. In some cases, experienced TAs might even have the opportunity to teach courses independently under the supervision of faculty members.

What are the requirements to become a Postsecondary Teaching Assistant?

The requirements to become a Postsecondary Teaching Assistant vary by institution and field of study. Typically, candidates must have a bachelor’s degree in the subject they plan to teach. Many institutions prefer or require that TAs be enrolled in a graduate program related to the subject they will assist with. Additionally, some schools may require TAs to complete training programs or workshops on teaching methods and educational theories.

What skills are needed to be a successful Postsecondary Teaching Assistant?

To be a successful Postsecondary Teaching Assistant, individuals need strong communication skills to effectively convey complex information to students. They also need excellent organizational skills to manage their responsibilities effectively. Critical thinking and problem-solving skills are crucial for assisting with research and responding to student inquiries. A comprehensive understanding of the subject matter they're assisting with is essential.

What is the career progression for a Postsecondary Teaching Assistant?

Postsecondary Teaching Assistants typically begin their careers while enrolled in graduate school. As they gain experience and complete their graduate degrees, they may have the opportunity to take on more responsibilities, such as teaching their own classes. Many TAs continue on to become professors or lecturers at colleges and universities. Some may also transition into administrative or research roles within higher education.

What is the job outlook for Postsecondary Teaching Assistants?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for Postsecondary Teaching Assistants is projected to grow 9% from 2018 to 2028, faster than the average for all occupations. This growth is expected due to increasing enrollments in postsecondary institutions. However, job prospects can vary depending on the academic field and geographic location.

What is the average salary of a Postsecondary Teaching Assistant?

The average salary for a Postsecondary Teaching Assistant can vary widely depending on the institution, geographic location, and field of study. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for postsecondary teaching assistants was $33,700 in May 2019. However, many TAs work part-time and are also enrolled as students, so their earnings may be supplemented by scholarships, grants, or other forms of financial aid.

What are some similar careers to a Postsecondary Teaching Assistant?

Similar careers to a Postsecondary Teaching Assistant include Postsecondary Teachers, Instructional Coordinators, High School Teachers, and Adult Basic and Secondary Education and Literacy Teachers. These roles all involve educating students and assisting with academic tasks, but they vary in terms of the educational level they serve and their specific responsibilities.