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What is An Administrative Assistant?
The title administrative assistant is often used interchangeably with the titles of office manager, receptionist, secretary, executive assistant, office clerk, and administrative specialist. However, job duties between administrative assistants can vary widely from one organization to another. Generally, an administrative assistant will support the operations and daily administrative duties to help make an office run smoothly. From answering calls and scheduling meetings to organizing files and managing data, an administrative assistant can perform a number of tasks across every possible industry.
What is an Administrative Assistant Do?
A recent survey performed by the U.S. Department of Labor of administrative assistants helped to reveal their day to day activities. While not all-encompassing, the most popular job duties of an administrative assistant include the following items:
- Utilization of software to communicate, manage data, produce presentations, and create spreadsheets
- Managing office supplies
- Maintaining office records, digitally and manually
- Answering phone calls, main, and electronic communication
- Producing memos and corporate communications
- Properly completing forms in accordance with company policy and procedures
Educational Requirements for an Administrative Assistant
A program in administrative assistance provides students with the skills and abilities necessary to operate in an office environment, handling more complex tasks than secretaries and meeting the needs of an office and executives. Administrative assistance programs will involve courses in computers, filing, organization, research, report composition and more. The primary focus of such programs is the familiarization with systems commonly in use in large offices and how to manage the flow of information while meeting set deadlines. Such courses are available through community colleges or private career schools and result in a diploma, certificate or associate degree. The typical length for these programs is between one and two years, depending on the resulting document of completion.
A curriculum in administrative assistance may include:
- English for Business
- Database Management
- Business Writing
A career as an administrative assistant does not necessarily require a post secondary education, though immediate entry into such a position rather than through promotion is facilitated by such an education. Additionally, individuals who have pursued such an education are more likely to be hired due to the extra skills and knowledge reducing the need for training for a given office.
Individuals working as administrative assistants will often be responsible for the writing of reports, reviewing of documents, preparation of materials, setting meetings, managing information through physical and digital filing systems as well as meeting the needs of executives as they arise. Individuals may find promotion over time, resulting in office management or executive administration of other assistants. Such promotions are a result of demonstrated competency combined with work experience. Individuals in this field should have strong skills in organization, writing, computers as well as be sociable and have interpersonal skills.
The average salary for an administrative assistant is approximately $35,000 a year, with increases available through annual salary bumps and promotion. Individuals working in larger companies or having a larger number of responsibilities tend to earn more as well. Job growth for administrative assistants is expected to remain steady over the decade due to new jobs opening, others closing, and some requiring replacement due to promotion or retirement. Individuals interested in administrative assistance may also be interested in customer service support, paralegal studies, data entry technology.