Administrative Professional Certification and Degree Program Options

An administrative professional associate's degree or certification can provide training in topics including common business software, office procedures, bookkeeping, and business writing.

Essential Information

Two-year administrative professional associate's programs train prospective secretaries or administrative assistants for clerical work in office settings. Professional certification in the field is available through many trade organizations, including the International Association of Administrative Professionals. Candidates usually must pass a series of assessment tests in various areas such as office technology and office administration.

These programs can both be commonly found online. In order to enroll, students will need a high school education. The certification course may require students to have prerequisite coursework or work experience in the field.


Administrative Professional Associate's Degree

The curriculum instructs students on methods of delivering customer service, creating, and disseminating business communications and managing meetings in an office environment. There is heavy emphasis on computer literacy and using common workplace software programs, such as Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Outlook. Instructors review basic office organizational skills, oral and written communications, desktop publishing, and telephone etiquette.

Community and technical colleges typically offer this program. Some schools do not require high school transcripts during the application process. However, proof of completion of applicable classes like keyboarding and math may be needed. In addition to general education courses, some of the classes common to many administrative professional degree programs include:

  • Business writing and proofreading
  • Bookkeeping
  • Mathematics for business applications
  • Travel, meeting and event planning
  • Desktop publishing
  • Project management

Professional Secretaries & Administrative Professionals Certification

In order for administrative professionals to become certified, they take a series of assessments that demonstrate their competency in the field. Two common certifications are the Certified Professional Secretary and Certified Administrative Professional, which are offered through the International Association of Administrative Professionals (www.iaap-hq.org). Self-study guides are a common way for students to prepare for the tests.

The material in both of the certification exams is based on the idea that administrative professionals have basic and advanced knowledge in office functions. The exam consists of four parts in the areas of office systems and technology, office administration, management, and advanced organizational management.


Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Administrative professionals often take on a wide array of assignments in the office for which they work and are usually expected to multi-task. A few of the occupations holders of an administrative professional associate's degree can choose from include:

  • Executive secretary
  • Customer service representative
  • Office clerk

Between 2014 and 2024, job openings for secretaries and administrative assistants were predicted to increase 3%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The median salary among secretaries and administrative assistants - except those specializing in executive, legal or medical fields - was $33,910 in 2015, per the BLS.

With either an associate's degree or certification program, administrative professionals can gain the education necessary to perform a variety of office tasks and find employment with many different companies.


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