Administrative assistants contribute to the success of a business by performing varied clerical tasks. A high school diploma is often the minimum educational requirement, but college programs are available.
Administrative assistants, or secretaries, perform clerical tasks and oversee the daily operations of offices. They are often employed by schools, companies, government agencies, legal firms and healthcare facilities. The education requirements for becoming an administrative assistant vary according to the type of position; however, a high school diploma is typically required for entry-level positions.
|Required Education||Varies; high school diploma at minimum for entry-level positions; postsecondary programs are available|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||3% for administrative assistants and secretaries|
|Median Salary (2015)*||$33,910 for administrative assistants and secretaries (except legal, medical, and executive)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
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Administrative Assistant Educational Requirements
Administrative assistants may obtain entry-level employment in the occupation with high school diplomas; however, many have some office administration training from either high school or postsecondary vocational programs. Virtual assistants, who work remotely, may complete virtual secretarial training programs at community colleges or technical schools. Upper-level positions in the field require more advanced training. Medical and legal secretaries typically complete specialized postsecondary programs, and executive administrative assistants often need undergraduate degrees.
Basic Vocational Training
Office administration training programs are available at community colleges and vocational schools. These programs may lead to diplomas, certificates or associate's degrees. Certificate programs in office administration, for example, typically take one year to complete and prepare students for entry-level employment in the occupation. Courses may include word processing, keyboarding and office applications.
Specialized Vocational Training
Many community colleges and technical schools offer legal and medical secretary training programs that result in diplomas. These programs typically take one year to complete and provide technical instruction applicable to the professions. Medical secretary coursework blends office management and healthcare fundamentals, including courses in business math, healthcare terminology and medical transcription. Legal secretary programs focus on law office management, such as courses in criminal procedures, legal office applications, technical writing and legal transcription.
Aspiring executive administrative assistants may benefit from earning an associate's or bachelor's degree in the industry in which they wish to work. Some colleges offer bachelor's degree programs in business administration, which are 4-year programs that prepare students for secretarial careers with corporations and businesses. Courses may include:
- Business strategy
- Corporate finance
- Organizational behavior
- Business writing
- Business law
Administrative Assistant Career and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimated a 3% job growth for administrative assistants and secretaries in the years 2014-2024. This growth is considered to be an average employment rate. In May 2015, the BLS also reported that secretaries and administrative assistants earned $33,910 as a median annual wage.
Administrative assistants generally work in an office environment to support business functions. They perform tasks such as answering telephones, scheduling appointments, coordinating meetings, and editing documents. Most entry-level positions require a high school diploma, but associate's or bachelor's degree program in the desired field may be helpful.