Teaching in NY

Teaching Assistants Pursuing Certification

NOTICE:  Applicants for teaching assistant (paraprofessionals) certificates (effective February 2, 2004) are required to take the Assessment of Teaching Assistant Skills Test (ATAS).


Education Law empowers school districts to employ persons as teaching assistants who provide direct instructional services to students under the general supervision of a licensed or certified teacher. The teaching assistant is provided general (as contrasted with direct or personal) supervision by the licensed or certified teacher(s) who are responsible for the students' instruction. Regular teachers provide direction and guidance to teaching assistants concerning the direct instructional services they are providing to students.

Teaching assistants, unlike teacher aides, are members of the teaching staff and must be given a probationary appointment as a teaching assistant. Recognizing that teaching assistants are not intended to replace licensed or certified teachers, it is not appropriate to assign primary instructional duties to a teaching assistant, regardless of any teaching license or credential the individual may possess.

Any person employed, as a teaching assistant, shall hold one of the following credentials: temporary license, continuing certificate; or a Level I, II, III or Pre-Professional certificate.  However, if an individual holds a teaching, pupil personnel, or administrative certificate, he or she need not also obtain a temporary license, continuing certificate, Level I, II, III or Pre-Professional certificate to serve as a teaching assistant, unless required by the employing district.


The regulations that took effect on February 2, 2004, not only change the requirements for teaching assistants but also the manner by which an individual becomes certified as a teaching assistant in New York State. Prior to February 2, 2004, individuals were certified at the request of a superintendent of schools.  Now, individuals will apply directly to the New York State Education Department for certification as a Level, I, II, III or Pre-Professional Teaching Assistant.

(effective April 2006)


What education is required for this certificate?

What examination is required for this certificate?

How long is this certificate valid?

Can the certificate be renewed?

Level I

High School Diploma or its equivalent

New York State Assessment of Teaching Assistant Skills Test

3 years

Yes. It can be renewed for 3 years based on commitment of employment.

Level II

9 credits for certificates applied for after February 1, 2007

Same as Level I

3 years


Level III

18 credits (cumulative)

Same as Level I

Continuously valid provided that the teaching assistant completes 75 hours of professional development every 5 years

Not applicable

Please note the following:

  • Individuals wishing to obtain a teaching assistant certificate must submit an application and fee using TEACH Online Services.
  • Applying for certification does not register you to take the Assessment of Teaching Assistant Skills Test.  You must register for the test with National Evaluation Systems, Inc.  There is a fee to take the test.  Taking the test is just one step in the teaching assistant application process.  For more information on how to register for the ATAS Exam go to http://www.ATAS.nesinc.com/ external link
  • Having a college degree does not eliminate the requirement that you take the Assessment of Teaching Assistant Skills test or meet all of the other certification requirements.
  • Teaching assistant requirements include more than obtaining a passing score on the test.  They include an educational requirement, the completion of two workshops, as well as, obtaining fingerprint clearance.  Please see the Certification requirements for detailed information.

For more information on specific requirements click on the icon below.  Teaching Assistant requirements are under "Other School Service".

search for specific certification requirements



Assessment of Teaching Assistant Skills Test (ATAS)

All candidates who apply on or after February 2, 2004, for a credential to work as a teaching assistant in New York State must submit evidence of having achieved a qualifying score on the ATAS. 

Teaching Assistant Application

Click TEACH Online Services to Apply Online!


Completing Requirements for Level II, III, or Pre Professional Certificates
  1. Credit by Examination

    Some of the coursework requirements for a Level II, Level III or Pre-Professional certificate may be satisfied by examination. For information, contact Excelsior College at 518-464-8500 or the College Level Examination Program (CLEP) at 1-800-257-9558. Credit earned through examination will be acceptable toward certification only if it does not duplicate college credit completed. CLEP offers exams in English, math, science, social studies, and languages other than English, as well as professional education. Excelsior Collegeexternal-link offers exams that satisfy requirements for professional education.

  2. Pursuing Teacher Certification

    Many individuals now serving as teaching assistants (paraprofessionals) in schools throughout the State possess the attributes, background, and interest that would enable them to successfully pursue careers in teaching. Under the February 2, 2004, regulations, the Board of Regents created the Pre-Professional teaching assistant certificate to encourage and recognize those teaching assistants actively pursuing a teacher certificate. It is not necessary for a teaching assistant to obtain a Pre-professional certificate in order to become a certified teacher. It is an option. The following are suggested steps to help teaching assistants who want to obtain certification as a teacher:

    1. Contact your school's human resource administrator to determine whether your district provides incentives for paraprofessionals.
    2. Contact local two and four-year higher education institutions for information on programs that can help you meet the education requirements for certification. Some community colleges offers special programs to prepare paraprofessionals, which are articulated with one or more four-year colleges that offer baccalaureate teacher education programs. Information on all teacher education programs offered by colleges and universities is available on the Office of College and University Evaluation's Web site at www.highered.nysed.gov/ocue/.
    3. Contact your local Teacher Center about credit-bearing courses and other professional development opportunities. Go to http://www.teachercenters.orgexternal-link.
    4. Contact your local teacher organization for information about courses or other professional development opportunities it may offer paraprofessionals. In New York City, the United Federation of Teachers (UFT)/New York City Teacher Centers Consortium offers reduced-tuition courses to enable paraprofessionals to earn undergraduate credits toward a bachelor's degree. For information on UFT offerings and on college programs for paraprofessionals making the transition to certified teachers, see the Web publication titled, You and the UFT: For Paraprofessionalsexternal-link.
    5. Explore alternative teacher certification (ATC) programs. ATC programs are designed for individuals who have a bachelor's degree in the subject they wish to teach, have passed two teacher tests (the LAST and CST), but lack courses in teaching. After an intensive, time-shortened pre-service component, candidates are employed as teachers under a transitional certificate and receive mentoring and other support while completing the requirements for certification. For more information, go to alternative certification programs. If you are employed in New York City schools, go to http://www.nycteachingfellows.org/ External Link Icon.
    6. Refer to the Certification section of our Web site for complete information on certification requirements by teaching title, information on testing requirements, etc.
Last Updated: September 5, 2013