There are several executive assistant programs that are available online at the certificate, diploma and associate's degree levels. Some programs may also be known as administrative assistant programs. Typically, students who are interested in these programs should already have completed high school or an equivalent training program (such as a GED). While some programs are completely online, other hybrid programs may also require students to be on campus for some time. Associate's degree programs may feature an internship requirement.
Administrative Assistant Diploma or Certificate Program
An administrative assistant diploma or certificate program requires that students hold a high school diploma or GED. Students should be reasonably proficient in office skills, including typing. The program provides training in basic office procedures, business principles, software application and communication skills.
Diploma or Certificate Program Information and Requirements
A diploma or certificate program prepares students for an entry-level clerical position. Depending on the school and a student's preference, a program can take as little as nine months or as long as two years to complete. Although in most cases all courses may be completed online, some schools offer a hybrid program that mixes online and in-person components. Some schools even offer students a choice between the two.
Students must have access to a computer with Internet capabilities. In addition to completing downloadable lessons, instructors and classmates often communicate by way of chat rooms, instant messaging and e-mail.
List of Common Certificate-Level Administrative Assistant Courses
Since this is not a degree-granting program, there are no general education requirements. Most courses deal with clerical job duties. Credits earned in this program are usually transferable toward an associate's degree program in business administration or a related field.
Students are expected to have some familiarity with a keyboard before enrolling. The subject matter in this course expands that knowledge to include office-related word processing techniques and functions, as well as document formatting.
Similar to keyboarding, a word processing course provides advanced instruction in various software applications. Topics covered typically include merges, graphics, Web-enhanced forms, shared documents and fill-in forms.
All aspects associated with the creation of effective business communications are included in this course. Contemporary business spelling and punctuation are emphasized as students learn about proper sentence and paragraph structure, formal and informal reports, business letters and e-mail.
Students learn to create and maintain a collection of information in a database, so that it might be retrieved as necessary and applied to situations as called for in the office.
Executive Assistant Associate's Degree Program
An associate's degree in this field is generally the minimum requirement employers demand when they are looking for an executive assistant. Applicants to the program must have a high school diploma or GED. Experience with office systems and computer technology is an advantage. In this degree program, students are taught business writing, business mathematics, business communication and Microsoft Office applications, as well as research and organizational skills.
Associate's Degree Program Information and Requirements
Courses in an associate's degree program are generally transferable toward a bachelor's degree in business. In some cases, a face-to-face orientation meeting or internship may be required in an otherwise entirely online program, which typically consists of about 64 total credit hours. Depending on scheduling, the program can take as little as 16 months to complete.
Students participate in virtual classroom sessions and receive assignments and feedback through an online learning system, like Blackboard. Communication may also take place by way of e-mail or telephone. Often, students purchase CDs, videos, special equipment and textbooks online for the program.
Students must have a computer with Internet access and be able to upload and download material in order to successfully participate in the program.
List of Common Associate-Level Executive Assistant Courses
Usually this program includes 18 credit hours of general education courses in such topics as mathematics, the humanities, social sciences, life sciences and communications. Usually, expanded or refined versions of office-related courses from a certificate program also appear in an associate's degree program.
Using word processing software, students learn to format personal, academic and business documents. Emphasis is placed on speed and accuracy as students develop skills used to prepare and present appropriate documents.
This advanced word processing course teaches students to integrate the many features used in desktop publishing. Newsletters, booklets, promotional documents, brochures, flyers, manuals, reports and other documents types regularly utilized in an office setting are among the publications covered.
Using contemporary design techniques and software, students learn how to put together and produce an effective business presentation. Students learn how to assess a business situation and how to successfully deliver the proper electronic presentation to address that situation.
In this course, students develop problem-solving skills as they study such topics as electronic mail, scheduling, collecting and presenting data, managing files and monitoring financial records. Organizing conferences and travel plans are among other duties explored.
Professional Personal Development
This is a course related to the interpersonal skills needed to help keep an office functioning smoothly. Topics covered include ethics, stress management, communication skills, diversity and team presence. Students also learn interviewing and networking techniques.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), between the years 2018 and 2028, the occupational opportunities for executive secretaries and administrative assistants are expected to decline by 20% (www.bls.gov). The BLS also reported in May 2018 that executive administrative assistants earned $59,340 as a median annual wage.
Certification and Continuing Education Information
Although not required, certification can enhance the employability of professionals in the field of office assisting or administration. Organizations such as the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP) offer examinations that can lead to the designation Certified Professional Secretary (CPS) or the more advanced Certified Administrative Professional (CAP). These examinations are not available online, but must be taken at one of the numerous designated testing centers throughout the United States.
Qualified professionals who hold an associate's degree may be able to enroll in an online degree-completion program leading to a business management bachelor's degree.
Completing either a certificate, diploma or associate's degree program can help an individual land a job as an administrative or executive assistant. Associate's degree programs are comprised of general education courses in addition to those covering office procedures and publishing software, which could be useful for students who want to continue their education in an online bachelor's degree completion program.