Administrative assistants utilize a variety of skills to ensure the efficiency of business operations. Responsibilities can include answering the phone, editing documents, and maintaining filing systems. A high school diploma or GED, experience in word processing, and the ability to multi-task are common requirements.
An administrative assistant is the go-to person in office environments. By providing clerical and general administrative support to a manager or a department, administrative assistants keep an organization running smoothly. Although there are no educational requirements to become an administrative assistant other than a high school diploma or GED, formal education programs are available. Some employers may require an associate's degree.
|Required Education||High school diploma, GED or associate's typically required|
|Other Requirements||Computer and communication skills, on-the-job training often required|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||3% for administrative assistants and secretaries|
|Median Salary (2015)*||$36,500 annually for administrative assistants and secretaries|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Many community colleges, technical schools and vocational institutes offer 2-year programs leading to an associate's degree in administrative assisting. Although specific duties and responsibilities of an administrative assistant vary depending upon the size and nature of the organization, there are a number of aspects that are common to each setting. Consequently, there are basic office-related topics that are covered in each program, in addition to general education requirements.
The first year of the program is typically an introductory period. Keyboarding skills are stressed as students become familiar with the basics and essentials of computer operating systems. Algebra and business mathematics are covered. Because effective communication is important in the job, English and business writing is also included. Students cover beginning aspects of word processing and spreadsheets.
During the second year, students proceed to advanced word processing, desktop publishing and database management. More detailed instruction is presented in office procedures and business communication, along with transcription, proofreading and accounting principles. Web design and management may also be included in the curriculum.
Individuals seeking employment in specialized areas often need additional training pertinent to that field. Although a good deal of routine clerical training is acquired on-the-job, there are specific areas in which formal courses should be pursued.
Medical administrative assistants should be versed in medical terminology, anatomy and physiology. They should also be trained in general healthcare office procedures, including medical billing, coding and reimbursement.
Legal administrative assistants can get additional training in civil law procedures, from pre-trial through post-trial activities, legal research and document preparation. Employers may look for individuals familiar with basic legal writing and terminology, as well as various aspects of tort law.
In addition to being the initial contact person in the office, real estate administrative assistants may handle various aspects of real estate transactions, including property listings, sales and leasing contracts, proposals and other pertinent legal documents and correspondence. Financial administrative assistant jobs often require familiarization and training in specialized reports, spreadsheets, accounting issues, data entry, tax form preparation and payroll duties.
Although not required for employment, an individual can gain a distinct advantage by becoming a Certified Administrative Professional (CAP). This is a designation granted by the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP). The IAAP offers a program that lasts one year and covers subjects such as business research, communication skills, electronic communication, project management, teamwork, supervision, office management and networking. The CAP designation is acquired by passing a 4-part exam covering basic knowledge, concepts and principles, application of concepts and critical thinking.
Administrative assistants are an important part of business operations and they help to ensure efficiency. A high school diploma or GED is usually required and most administrative assistants gain experience through on-the-job training.