A number of certificate programs for office specialists contain core courses, and have the sole goal of equipping students for entry-level employment upon completion. Topics such as word processing, administrative office management, and business communication are emphasized. Associate's degree programs offer similar curricula with the addition of general education studies.
Most schools offering office administrative specialist certificate and associate programs require students to hold a high school diploma or GED. Incoming students should have basic keyboarding skills, a familiarity with computer operating systems, and a strong command of the English language. Schools with associate's degree programs ask students to meet a minimum GPA requirement before they can start core courses.
Office Administrative Specialist Certificate
An office specialist, also referred to as an administrative assistant or office assistant, maintains order, answers phones, and handles files in a business or office environment. Preparatory office specialist certificate programs are offered through 2-year community colleges and vocational schools as well as through the extension departments of 4-year universities. They are designed to prepare students to work as professional office administrative specialists and provide them with an understanding of the tasks and duties of the role. Students enrolled learn how to take direction from supervisors, handle spreadsheets and databases, work with basic office filing systems, manage phone systems, and greet clients.
Most certificate programs for aspiring office specialists are vocational in nature and offer courses that strictly prepare students for the career of office administrator. Example courses include:
- Word processing applications
- Business communication
- Administrative office management
- Records management
- Customer relations
- Word processing and business English
Associate of Science in Office Administration
Associate's degree programs in office administration are similar to certificate programs. They provide students with an introduction to office technology, business communication, and basic management procedures, while at the same time providing students with the practical skills they will need on the job. Such programs also include courses related to general education, specifically in the fields of science, mathematics, and humanities. Associate's degree programs in office administration provide a well-rounded education for aspiring office specialists and administrators.
In addition to covering topics related to office administration tasks and duties, the courses found in associate's degree programs in office administration cover theories of management, business ethics, and basic accounting. A collection of courses include:
- Business communication and ethics
- Office procedures
- Microsoft Office
- Basic accounting
- Bookkeeping and filing
- Desktop Publishing
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
Executive secretaries, administrative assistants, legal secretaries, medical secretaries, office specialists and similar professionals held nearly four million jobs around the country in 2014, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported (www.bls.gov). The mean annual salary for administrative assistants who were not employed in the medical or legal field was $35,200 in May 2015. Executive administrative assistants earned a mean yearly wage of $55,460 the same year.
Office assistants and specialists are not required to gain certification. Professionals who are interested in working as office specialists in the legal field can opt to gain certification from the National Association of Legal Secretaries or Legal Secretaries International. General office specialists can earn certification from the International Association of Administrative Professionals or the International Virtual Assistants Association.
Obtaining an office specialist certificate or associate's degree will give students access to a career field with nearly 4 million jobs. However, earning professional certification from an organization like the National Association of Legal Secretaries or the International Association of Administrative Professionals could help increase mean annual salary by over $20,000 as they qualify for executive secretary positions.