7 Steps to Securing a Graduate Teaching Assistant Job

Timothy Ijoyemi

Tim has more than 10 years experience in HE. He has a strong passion for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in HE. With equivalent experience in recruitment in HE, he has also developed a range of expertise in HE talent acquisition.

The important role played by graduate teaching assistants in UK universities cannot be overemphasised. Considering the small number of professors in a given faculty and the overwhelming hundreds of undergraduate students they are required to lecture in a particular course, the duties of graduate teaching assistants in higher education institutions become practically indispensable.

Graduate teaching assistants save the day by providing in-depth tutoring and detailed instructions to undergraduates, more than professors would have time to do. In return, teaching assistants receive a stipend and also gain quality teaching experience.

Aspiring to become a graduate teaching assistant? Here are detailed steps you need to take to get a teaching assistant position in a higher institution. You will also discover the requirements for a graduate teaching assistant position and your job descriptions.

Graduate Teaching Assistant Job Description

A graduate teaching assistant is basically a graduate student who is enrolled in a university but also assist in teaching undergraduate students at the university. They take their courses in pursuit of their Master’s or Doctorate’s degree, and at the same time help professors to teach undergraduate courses in a specialised academic field. Graduate teaching assistants render more personalised tutoring to undergraduates in specific sections of a given course.

Generally, the designated duties of a graduate teaching assistant include the following;

  • Delivering lectures as prescribed in the course curriculum.
  • Conducting laboratory experiments and field trips.
  • Taking attendance and recording lecture notes.
  • Mentoring undergraduate students through one-on-one meetings and providing answers to their questions.
  • Assisting faculty members in invigilating exams, evaluating assignments, essays and tests.
  • Maintaining records of students’ grades, progress and performance.
  • Developing syllabuses, lecture notes and course plans.
  • Organising class discussions, presentations and students conferences.


7 Steps to Becoming a Graduate Teaching Assistant

1. Get The Relevant Academic Qualifications:

To stand a chance of getting a graduate teaching assistant job you must have at least a Bachelor’s degree relevant to the field of study you are interested in teaching. As there are different forms of graduate assistantships, your course of study to a large extent will determine whether you get a teaching assistant position or are more suited for a research assistant job. If the latter is what you’re aiming at, you may need to learn how to become a research assistant to achieve your goals faster. Honours degrees in subjects such as biology, chemistry, English, philosophy, etc will likely guarantee one a teaching assistant job.

2. Enrol for a Graduate Degree programme:

The singular, most basic requirement to becoming a graduate teaching assistant is that you must be enrolled in an accredited university for a graduate programme (master’s or doctorate degree). Make sure that you meet the entry requirements for the programme you are applying for. You must have at least a relevant Master’s degree and/or an upper second class honours (2:1).

In most cases, you will be required to run a full-time programme. It is quite uncommon to come across a part-time graduate teaching assistantship, as most universities prefer full-time teaching assistants. It’s also very important to ensure your supervisor is aware of your intention to take on a teaching assistant position and has given his/her approval.

3. Build your CV:

You need to put together a professional and updated resume outlining clearly all relevant details. Ensure your CV covers your academic qualifications, skills, research studies and work experience. At a glance, a well-written CV should give an impressive account of your relevance, especially as it relates to your suitability to be offered a position as a teaching assistant. Here is a simple and straightforward guide on how to write a great academic CV that will stand you out from others.

4. Maintain a respectable online presence:

Having a clean and reputable social media presence is a plus to landing a teaching assistant job. Your professors would feel more comfortable working with someone who has a professional online record and a clean track on social media. Set up a professional LinkedIn profile, providing relevant information about yourself, your qualifications and career interests. Your profile picture should be decent and showcase the professional side of you.  As much as possible, refrain from using inappropriate language or uploading obscene contents on your status.

5. Connect with senior academic staff

Apart from your academic achievements, a cordial and professional relationship with the professors would help to facilitate your appointment as graduate assistant. Stay ahead of the game by establishing a connection with the professors and senior lecturers in your desired field. These are usually the stakeholders on whose recommendations a graduate student is likely to be hired as a teaching assistant. Get to know them personally, participate actively in class and don’t pass on any opportunity to show your keen interest for research and development in the subject area.

It helps to find out what research studies the professors are currently undertaking and be sure it matches your own research interests before proceeding with your application. This will help to keep you on the same page with the department and further enhance your chances of getting the teaching assistantship.

6. Where To Find Graduate Teaching Assistant Job Vacancies

Universities are primarily the place to seek a graduate teaching assistants’ job. On applying for a graduate degree programme your institution may offer you an opportunity to take up teaching assistantship in your department. Otherwise, the onus will be on you to lookout for when the department will announce such vacancies. You can as well approach the departmental administrator and make your enquiry directly.

Also endeavour to check online academic job boards like careersinhe.com where university job vacancies are regularly advertised. Here you can find numerous job openings available in UK higher institutions, including graduate teaching assistant jobs.

7. Network

Don’t get discouraged if the departmental website did not advertise the graduate teaching assistant jobs you wanted. A one-on-one discussion with your supervisor and other professors in the department will open up some doors. Create awareness that you are searching for a teaching assistant job and follow it up with actions that attest to your interest in a teaching job. You can volunteer to assist in tutorials, group discussions, organising field works or marking scripts. This is bound to fetch you a teaching assistant position faster or at least earn you a stellar recommendation for one in future.

In conclusion, graduate teaching assistantship is a great way to garner first-hand lecturing experience while running your postgraduate programme. The money you will earn and the possible scholarship you will be offered are some attractive additional incentives. As a graduate student a teaching assistant job could be part of your acceptance package. However, this might not be the case and you may have to seek the teaching assistant job on your own. Your departmental website, school newsletters, academic job boards and making your search for a teaching assistant job known by word of mouth are some ways to find a secure a teaching assistant role.

Photo by Suad Kamardeen on Unsplash

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