The teaching assistant position usually does not normally require a particular certification, although certain schools and certain states (especially if a person is pursuing teaching assistant certification in New York) have different requirements for a teacher assistant. Generally speaking, the most that someone will need to become a teaching assistant is a minimum of two years of college education.
In the past, almost anyone could become a teacher's aide, but recently, the regulations of the No Child Left Behind Act make it so that anyone working at a Title I school, or a school that receives special funding from the government, must have at least two years of higher education or pass a certain state test in order to work at this school. According to these regulations, these two years of higher education makes a teacher's aide "highly qualified."
However, although these legal requirements only technically apply to Title I schools, more and more schools that are not Title I are also requiring teacher assistants to become "highly qualified," for various reasons. First, districts and schools do not want to give the impression that they have lower expectations for their employees, and so have adopted the No Child Left Behind policies to demonstrate to the community that they have equally high expectations for the staff at their schools. Second, adopting the same requirements as Title I schools makes the requirements for the state as a whole more uniform, so that all the schools in the state will be on the same page.
So, because districts and schools desire what is best for students, as well as consistency, those who seek to become a teaching assistant should seek to meet the two years of higher education requirement, no matter what school they seek to work at. By doing this, they will not have to worry about requirements potentially changing.
New York is a special situation concerning teacher assistant certification in that so far, it is the only state that utilizes an assessment for teaching assistant certification. After passing the New York State Assessment of Teaching Assistant Skills test (NYSATAS), you will receive a Level I certificate. After a certain amount of time and experience, you may proceed to a Level II, and then a Level III, and then finally a Pre-Professional Certificate.
The certification requirements here are based upon what is currently the law. However, when you apply for a teacher's aide position, be sure to check that you meet all the requirements necessary for the position, and that they have not changed since the writing of this article. Good luck, and I am confident you will succeed in your goal to gain certification and make a difference in the lives of our youth!