Office Assistant: Education for a Career in Office Assisting

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become an office assistant. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about schooling, job duties and certification to find out if this is the career for you.

Preparation for a career as an office assistant can begin in high school. Classes in typing and computers can help develop skills that will appeal to employers. Although no formal education or training is required to become an office assistant, those with some training or experience may increase their job prospects.

Essential Information

Office assisting is an important administrative field because it involves maintaining an efficient and organized office. Office assistants have at least a high school diploma, though postsecondary training programs are available. Office assistants can also choose to become certified.

Required Education High school diploma
Other Requirements Optional certification
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 3% (secretaries and administrative assistants)
Average Salary (2015)* $35,200 (secretaries and administrative assistants)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Educational Requirements

Formal training and education is often not required for this position. High school graduates with typing, computer and basic office skills often qualify for entry-level office assistant positions. Many community and vocational colleges offer 1-year and 2-year programs in business administration. In addition to possessing good communication and organizational skills, office assistants should also be proficient in spelling, grammar and punctuation.


Office assistant courses may vary, depending on the specialty. For instance, an aspiring legal office assistant will focus studies on legal courses, while someone pursing a medical office assistant career will focus on medical courses, in addition to basic office skills. Typical office assistant courses include keyboarding, business math, spreadsheets, word/information processing and office systems management.


Although certification is not a requirement for office assistants, many choose to pursue certification to enhance their employment opportunities and credentials. The National Association of Legal Secretaries and the International Association of Administrative Professionals are two organizations offering certification for office assistants wishing to demonstrate their proficiency in office skills. Typically, all that is required for certifications, such as the Certified Administrative Professional or the Certified Professional Secretary, is satisfying educational requirements, work experience and passing a test.

Career Overview

Job Description

An office assistant, often referred to as an administrative assistant or a secretary, is an administrative professional who helps other business professionals in their daily duties, while maintaining an organized office. Office assistants often complete clerical duties such as opening and delivering mail, typing e-mails, taking notes during meetings, reserving meeting rooms, filing and answering the telephone. Most assistants work under the supervision of an administrative manager.

Career and Salary Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), administrative assistants and secretaries in general were expected to see a 3% growth in employment between 2014 and 2024. However, jobs for medical secretaries were expected to grow 21% during that time frame, which is much faster than average, mainly due to the continued growth of the healthcare industry.

In May 2015, the BLS noted that secretaries and administrative assistants (excluding medical, legal and executive) earned an average of $35,200 per year. Medical secretaries made an average annual salary of $34,330, per the BLS.

While not typically required, office assistants may choose to prepare for their career by pursuing postsecondary vocational training in business administration. They can also pursue certification, which may increase their job options. Those interested in working in a specialized field, such as the medical or legal field, should take courses related to those areas.

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