Schools for Aspiring Administrative Assistants: How to Choose

Administrative assistants commonly work in an office setting and are primarily responsible for organization and data-entry duties utilizing computer skills. Though postsecondary education may not be required, certificate and associate's degree programs are available for students interested in furthering their education and gaining an edge in the job market.

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Certificate and associate's degree programs for administrative assistants are usually available through the business technology departments of private schools and community colleges. Aspiring administrative assistants can earn an associate's degree in office administration, which may be transferable to a 4-year program in business administration or office management; graduates of an administrative assistant certificate program can receive training adequate to secure an entry-level position in the profession.

Schools Offering Administrative Assistant Programs

This list of colleges and universities identifies some schools offering administrative assistant programs.

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Undergraduate Tuition (2015-2016)
American River College Sacramento, CA 2-year, Public Certificate, Associate's In-state $1,104; Out-of-state $7,440
Bergen Community College Paramus, NJ 2-year, Public Certificate, Associate's In-district $4,278; In-state $7,686; Out-of-state $8,046
Cincinnati State Technical and Community College Cincinnati, OH 2-year, Public Associate's In-state $3,825; Out-of-state $7,393
College of Southern Nevada Las Vegas, NV 4-year, primarily associate's, Public Certificate, Associate's In-state $2,805; Out-of-state $9,450
Community College of Denver Denver, CO 2-year, Public Certificate, Associate's In-state $3,509; Out-of-state $13,179
Ivy Tech Community College Indianapolis, IN 2-year, Public Certificate In-state $4,115; Out-of-state $7,992
University of Alaska - Anchorage Anchorage, AK 4-year, Public Certificate In-state $5,545; Out-of-state $17,177

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)

School Selection Criteria

There are several considerations when seeking a program in this field:

  • If you're interested in working in a legal or medical office setting, look for certificate and degree programs offering specialized coursework in these fields.
  • Look for schools that offer flexibility in online programs or evening and weekend courses.
  • Verify that a program's curriculum meets eligibility requirements for earning voluntary professional certifications, which can help you get an edge in the job field.
  • Check into the additional services that a school offers, such as career or job placement services.

Administrative Assistant Program Overviews

Certificate for Administrative Assistants

Certificate programs for administrative assistants can typically be completed in 12-18 months and are designed to prepare students for entry-level office work. In addition to office skills, students learn ethical and proper office etiquette, as well as appropriate conduct when interacting with the public or vendors.

Associate Degree for Administrative Assistants

Administrative assistants can earn an associate degree in 1-2 years and may be able to transfer to a 4-year bachelor's program in office management or business administration. Office internships may be included as part of an associate's program.

Students interested in pursuing careers in office administration can earn certificate or associate's degrees, some of which are designed for transfer towards a bachelor's degree program. It is possible to complete studies online, and some schools also offer evening and weekend classes.

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