Administrative Assistant: Summary of Coursework

Administrative assistants are essential to carrying out daily office functions. Coursework in administrative assisting is normally completed as part of a standalone certificate program or a degree program. Read on to learn more about administrative assistant training.

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Essential Information

Available programs in administrative assisting are often found at technical schools and community colleges and lead to certificates or associate's degrees. While certificate programs enable students to get ready for the workforce more quickly as they usually take less than two years, associate's program graduates usually have more opportunities for career advancement.

Administrative assisting certificate and associate's degree programs both include courses that teach students to type proficiently and accurately, write business letters and reports, use productivity software (such as Microsoft Office Word, Excel and PowerPoint) and keep track of paper and electronic records. Students usually also take a course in basic office accounting. Associate's degree programs generally require additional general education coursework and offer electives in topics that might include specific computer applications, Web design or business management.

Students completing such programs may qualify for entry-level work as administrative assistants, data-entry clerks, receptionists, secretaries or word-processing clerks. It is common for certificate and degree programs to require or make available an internship or co-op to provide some administrative assisting work experience.

Here are some main concepts taught in administrative assistant education programs:

  • Keyboarding efficiency techniques
  • Word processor use
  • Office software applications
  • Business fundamentals
  • Records management
  • Office accounting

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List of Common Courses

Keyboarding for Speed and Accuracy Course

Students must learn to use a basic computer keyboard proficiently, since this is a fundamental skill for office work. Students memorize the locations of letter, symbol and number keys. General word-processing skills, such as formatting and editing, are introduced. Speed and accuracy improvements are typical requirements for advancing to the next level of keyboarding.

Popular Office Applications Course

Courses cover commonly used word-processing, spreadsheet and presentation-oriented software applications. Often, courses are specifically focused on the programs found within Microsoft Office Suite, which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and Access. Students learn to create, format, edit and print basic documents and reports.

Business Communications Course

This class helps students develop professional correspondence and business transcription techniques. English grammar and punctuation, as well as formatting skills, are key focus areas. Standard types of office and business correspondence, such as letters and reports, are covered. Students may learn how to construct persuasive notes or craft negative memos.

Records Management Course

Most businesses maintain organized records of their data and documents; they may use a combination of paper and electronic files. Students learn standard filing methods and are introduced to typical filing equipment found in offices, such as paper filing systems, microfilm and digital records. The disposal process for confidential data may be covered as well.

Office Accounting Course

Coursework focuses on basic accounting principles geared towards the non-accountant. Students can learn to classify and summarize information and then record it in journals and ledgers. They may study accounting equations and learn to prepare simple financial statements. Other topics can include the accounting cycle, payroll, bank transactions and computerized accounting systems.

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