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Executive Assistant Career Info

Discover what type of work an executive assistant performs. Learn about skills that are necessary in addition to academic requirements, job outlook and salary to determine if this is the right career choice.

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Career Definition for an Executive Assistant

Executive assistants work to aid their superiors and co-workers in the completion of tasks and to ensure the smooth, efficient running of the office environment. Executive assistants work in all types of environments, including large corporations, small businesses, non-profit organizations and government agencies. Typical duties of an executive assistant include placing and answering phone calls, handling correspondence, greeting office visitors, monitoring e-mail and faxes, working on assigned projects and filing.

Education Certificate or associate degree in office management recommended
Job Skills Accepting directions and instruction, communication, math, interpersonal skills
Median Salary (2015)* $53,370 for executive administrative assistants and secretaries
Job Growth (2014-2024)* -6% for executive administrative assistants and secretaries

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Educational Requirements

The specific educational criteria to work as an executive assistant vary with the specific position and employer. Having some postsecondary education, such as an office management certification or associate's degree, will help you succeed in executive assisting. Common courses in a relevant 2-year associate's degree include typing, computer applications, business law, records and information management, office administration and business communication.

Required Skills

Executive assistants need to readily accept direction and instruction. Basic math, communication and interpersonal skills are also important for a successful career in executive assisting.

Economic and Employment Outlook

The employment outlook for executive administrative assistants and secretaries, including executive assistants, is lacking; the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that employment in the field should decrease by 6% from 2014-2024. Median annual income specifically for executive secretaries and administrative assistants in 2015 was $53,370, according to the BLS.

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Alternative Careers

Look into these other options for careers in administration:

General Office Clerk

For those seeking an administrative support position who want fewer responsibilities, becoming a general office clerk may be the right career move. General office clerks sort mail, copy and file records, answer phones, schedule appointments and provide additional office support where needed. No education beyond high school is required, but taking courses in computer software usage and business could be beneficial when seeking employment.

The BLS projects slow growth of 3% for office clerks between 2014 and 2024, but many new positions will likely arise in the healthcare industry. In May of 2015, the BLS determined that general office clerks received a median salary of $29,580.

Administrative Services Manager

If coordinating administrative support activities at a company sounds appealing, consider working as an administrative services manager. Sometimes known as office managers, they organize and order supplies, schedule equipment maintenance, control budgets, supervise administrative staff and identify department goals.

Education requirements will depend on the size of the organization and the type of work performed, with larger companies requiring a bachelor's degree in business, while smaller businesses may hire those with only a high school diploma. Most of these managers have prior work experience as well. According to 2015 BLS figures, administrative services managers earned $86,110 in median yearly income. The BLS also expects over 23,000 new positions will open up in this field during the 2014-2024 decade.

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