Job Description and Education
|Degree Level||High school diploma or equivalent; postsecondary training sometimes preferred|
|Degree Field(s)||Business or related field|
|Key Skills||Basic office and computer skills; organizational, communication, office management, and basic bookkeeping and accounting skills|
|Job Outlook (2014-2024)||3% increase|
|Average Annual Salary (2015)||$35,200 (for general secretaries and administrative assistants not serving as legal, medical or executive secretaries)|
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Administrative assistants provide office support to executives, managers, and other professionals. Assistants may work in a variety of settings, from distribution centers to law firms. Assistants often work from a desk and use a computer and the Internet throughout the course of their day. Only a high school diploma is needed to become one, though postsecondary training is preferred by some employers.
Administrative assistants perform clerical duties in nearly every industry. Some administrative assistants, like those in the legal industry, may be more specialized than others. Most administrative assistant duties revolve around managing and distributing information within an office. This generally includes answering phones, taking memos, and maintaining files. Administrative assistants may also be in charge of sending and receiving correspondence, as well as greeting clients and customers.
Bookkeeping and Scheduling
Administrative assistants in some offices may be charged with monitoring and recording expenditures. Duties may range from creating spreadsheets to reporting expenses to an office manager. As such, some administrative assistants may be required to be knowledgeable in office bookkeeping software, such as Microsoft Excel.
Planning events like board meetings and luncheons may also be the responsibility of administrative assistants. This may require researching vendor prices or inquiring about participants' availability. Other duties may include scheduling appointments and preparing presentation materials.
Documentation and Specialized Duties
Administrative assistants may also help office members with documentation. Aside from storing, organizing, and managing files, assistants may need to type, edit, and proofread documents. Some assistants may need to take dictation or record the minutes of meetings.
Administrative assistants in some fields may be required to have extensive professional knowledge. Accordingly, duties for these assistants may be more specialized. For example, legal administrative assistants may need to have a thorough understanding of legal terminology and procedures, while medical assistants may need to be well versed in dealing with insurance companies and reading medical reports.
Employment Outlook and Salary
Average employment growth of 3% was expected for secretaries and administrative assistants from 2014-2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). General secretaries and administrative assistants not serving as legal, medical or executive secretaries earned an average wage in 2015 of $35,200 per year.