How can I become a teaching assistant in the Netherlands?

In short

There are no legal qualification requirements to work as a classroom assistant, educational assistant or teaching assistant. However, there are various training opportunities.

How can I become a teaching assistant in the Netherlands?

Are you considering working at a primary school or in special needs education? Do you want to contribute children’s education journeys, but not as a teacher? Perhaps a job as a classroom assistant, educational assistant or teaching assistant could be worth considering. In this article we give you more information about the different positions, relevant training programs and career opportunities.

What are teaching assistants?

Besides qualified teachers, teaching assistants (onderwijsondersteuners) also play an important role within schools. In the Dutch educational system, they are labeled as ‘education support/supportive educational staff’ (onderwijsondersteunend personeel, often abbreviated to oop). Within this label there are different types of assistant jobs. Individual student supporters, a classroom assistant who supports a teacher by aiding small groups of students, but also janitors and administrative staff. The most common roles are classroom assistants (klassenassistenent), educational assistants (onderwijsassistenten) or teaching assistant (leraarondersteuners).

What do teaching assistants do?

The tasks of classroom assistants, educational assistants and teaching assistants may vary between schools. The school board decides which activities staff in the different roles account for. There is a wide range of activities between the three roles, but in practice they often overlap. Some schools only use the term ‘teaching assistant’ and don’t differentiate between the three roles. Most of the time, the different responsibilities are described as below:

  • A classroom assistant supports a teacher by aiding students with tasks assigned by the teacher. This role is very common in special needs education and mostly consists of nursing and supportive tasks.
  • An educational assistant also aides (smaller groups of) students. Moreover, they often practice administrative tasks and help the teacher in selecting teaching materials.
  • A teaching assistant often has a bigger responsibility than the previous two roles. A teaching assistant prepares lessons, executes certain (practical) lesson activities, keeps track of the progress of students and observes potential student problems.

How do I become a teaching assistant?

In primary education – so at primary schools and in special needs education – there are no statutory requirements for classroom assistants, educational assistants and teaching assistants. Thus, by law there is no specific diploma you are required to obtain. However, schools often seek people with relevant skills or work experience. If you want to work as a teaching assistant, it is best to inquire about educational and/or work experience requirements at an individual school(board). These requirements are often listed in vacancies on websites like

There are several trainings that offer relevant preparation for these assistant roles. There is an mbo-4 program ‘opleiding tot onderwijsassistent’, but also several educational associate degrees.

The duration of the mbo-4 program is three to four years. During the program you follow courses in pedagogy, didactics and developmental psychology, to gain more knowledge on how children learn and develop. You are trained to organize group activities and work alongside teachers. You can find a list of mbo-schools that offer this program on

The associate degree ‘Pedagogisch Educatief Professional’ (Ad PEP) and ‘Didactisch Educatief Professional’ (Ad DEP) prepare you to become a teaching assistant. The duration of the program is two years and you combine the study with a job of a minimum of 16 hours per week. During the program you expand your knowledge on pedagogy, developmental psychology, management and organization, didactics and communicational skills aimed at working with kids and parents.

You can find a list of all the schools that offer an educational associate degree in our navigator. You can also attest your skills in different ways, for example through previous work experience or a diploma in a pedagogical related study field.  

What are my career opportunities as a teaching assistant?

When you are already working as a teaching assistant and you would like to transition to becoming a teacher, it is advisable to discuss the possibilities with your employer and an advisor from a teacher training program. There is a subsidy available for teaching assistants in both primary education and secondary education who want to follow a teacher training program.

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