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Administrative Certificate and Certification Program Information

Learn about certificate programs for administrative assistants, as well as the requirements for achieving professional certification. Get information on the certificate program curriculum, and discover continuing education opportunities. Look at detailed employment statistics for administrative assistants.

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Essential Information

Administrative assistant certificate programs are usually offered by community colleges or vocational/technical schools and consist of just a few courses that can be completed in about a year of study. Students in administrative assistant certificate programs learn to schedule meetings, organize documents and use everyday business software, including the Microsoft Office Suite. The program also includes instruction on proper office procedures and employee/customer relations.

The administrative office technology certificate program prepares students to enter the workforce in an entry-level position. In addition, credits earned from this program can be used towards earning an associate's degree in administrative office technology or other business majors. Administrative assistants often can improve their job prospects through certification from a professional organization, which requires membership and passing a competency examination.

Education Prerequisites

Students must submit high school transcripts, and all applicants must have either graduated from high school or earned a GED certificate. It is helpful to have good grades in math and an understanding of basic word processing and other computer programs. Many trade and technical schools also require incoming students to sit for a mandatory placement test.

Program Coursework

Courses in office procedures, English grammar, proofreading, and keyboarding for students who want to increase their speed and accuracy are followed by specific courses in:

  • Spreadsheet/database software
  • Accounting/business math
  • Business/machine transcription
  • Business communications
  • Principles of accounting
  • Microsoft Applications

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), the overall employment of administrative assistants and secretaries is projected to grow by 12% from 2010-2020. More specifically, executive secretaries and administrative assistants will see growth of about 13% within their field, and the employment of secretaries (excluding medical and legal secretaries) will grow more slowly during the decade, by about 6%. The BLS reported the median salary earned by secretaries and administrative assistants in May 2012 as $32,410; those providing higher-level support for executive staff and teams earned a median salary of $47,500 in the same time frame.

Continuing Education

Earning a certificate may lead to further studies for an associate's or bachelor's degree in business administration. Earning advanced degrees may translate into promotion opportunities at one's current position or further opportunities at other businesses. Joining a professional organization, such as the International Association of Administrative Professionals (www.iaap-hq.org), would also be helpful for career advancement. A non-profit organization, the IAAP has over 22,000 members worldwide and offers a number of educational and certification options for qualified administrative professionals.

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics