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How Do I Become a Certified Administrative Assistant?

If you want a credential to demonstrate your aptitude as an administrative assistant, you may be interested in earning a certification from the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP). Read on to learn more about the process and benefits of earning certification in the administrative assistant profession!

Gaining Certification

The IAAP offers a Certified Administrative Professional (CAP) designation and the Organizational Management (OM) specialty certification. In order to qualify for these certifications, you'll need to possess experience and pass a written examination. Many colleges and schools offer educational programs designed to prepare you for testing. Courses typically cover topics like word processing, keyboarding, office management, and computer systems.

Although you do not need a college degree to sit for the CAP exam, the amount of education you have will offset the amount of experience you need. If you do not have any degree, you must have at least four years of administrative career experience. If you have an associate's degree, you will only need three years of on the job experience. If you have a bachelor's degree, you'll need two years of experience. For work experience to qualify, it must be:

  • Within the last 15 years
  • Count for 20 hours a week or more
  • Include 12 consecutive months of experience with the same employer within the past 5 years

Important Facts About Administrative Assistants

Required Education High school diploma or GED equivalent
Work Environment Office settings
Median Salary (2018) $38,880 (for secretaries and administrative assistants)*
Job Outlook (2016-2026) -5% (for secretaries and administrative assistants)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Exam Preparation

The CAP exam is given the first Friday and Saturday of May and November each year. A review guide is available to help you study. The exam includes a 300-350 question multiple-choice test, which covers office technology, administration, and management. If you want to pursue the OM specialty, you can take the IAAP organizational management test that measures your creative, analytical, and critical responses to a variety of scenarios.

Results

You'll receive your exam results approximately 45 days after you take the test. If you pass all parts of the test, you will receive a personal identification number and a five-year certificate. If you do not pass all parts of the exam, you can take it again up to six times. CAP holders who first applied for certification on January 1, 1988 or later need to recertify every five years in order to keep their professional status. If you do not recertify, your designation will reflect an inactive status.