Administrative Assistant: Job Duties, Career Outlook, and Educational Requirements

Get information on what an administrative assistant does, and find out if jobs in this field are predicted to increase over the next few years. Learn about education requirements and qualifications for professional certification. Schools offering Administrative Assistant degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Will My Job Duties Entail as an Administrative Assistant?

As an administrative assistant, you'll distribute and file company documents and memos, as well as compose and proofread reports and letters. You'll also greet visitors, arrange meetings with colleagues or clients, record and type board-meeting minutes, order supplies and distribute incoming correspondence. Other aspects of your job might include making and receiving telephone calls and organizing travel arrangements on behalf of employers. You may maintain and use office equipment, such as fax machines, scanners and photocopiers. You'll most likely use computers on a daily basis, utilizing desktop publishing and spreadsheet programs, overseeing e-mail correspondence and working with bookkeeping software.

What Can I Expect the Career Outlook to Be?

More than four million people worked as administrative assistants and secretaries in 2008, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). From 2008 to 2018, the BLS indicated that job opportunities for this group would grow about 11%, which was the expected national average for all jobs ( You could anticipate more jobs to exist in growing industries, such as education, healthcare and construction. Career opportunities were also projected due to administrative assistants leaving the field for professional positions. The mean annual wage for executive secretaries and administrative assistants in May 2009 was $44,010.

What Education Do I Need?

You might acquire the skills to become an administrative assistant by attending a vocational college and completing a 1-year certificate program. Training will be given in areas such as word processing, spreadsheets and office applications.

Employers may seek administrative assistants who've acquired college degrees and specialized computer technology training; this is particularly true for those hiring senior and executive-level administrative assistants. If you decide to obtain a bachelor's degree, make sure your program of study closely relates to the industry you'd like to work in. Otherwise, you can enroll in an associate's degree program in office administration.

Such programs can take two years to complete, and they offer such degrees as an Associate of Applied Science in Office Administration. Your classes may include accounting, office procedures, office software applications, records management and writing. If you'd like to become a specialized administrative assistant and work in a legal firm or medical facility, you may need additional training courses to learn legal and medical terminologies. You might obtain additional, on-the-job training once hired.

You can enhance your professional image by becoming certified. The certification process also builds your skills and job knowledge and demonstrates your competency to potential employers. The International Association of Administrative Professionals offers examinations leading to the Certified Administrative Professional (CAP) credential, which requires applicants to have 2-4 years of experience ( The 3-part examination covers knowledge of organization and planning, information distribution, records management, document production and communication, among other topics.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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