What Does an Office Assistant Do?

The term 'office assistant' refers to a variety of office jobs, including administrative assistant, secretary, clerk, or executive assistant. Generally, they are responsible for the routine tasks that keep an office running. Schools offering Office Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Overview

While most office assistants work for corporations and privately-owned business, they can also be found working for the government, not-for-profit agencies, and educational institutions. Some jobs require a specific skill set, but all office assistants do general, routine tasks. These tasks include:

  • Greeting visitors
  • Scheduling meetings and appointments
  • Maintaining paper and electronic records
  • Answering the phone
  • Posting outgoing mail
  • Sorting and distributing incoming mail
  • Arranging travel
  • Transcribing notes
  • Taking dictation

Important Facts About Office Assistants

Required Education High school diploma or equivalent
On-the-Job Training Post-employment training will be required
Professional Certification Optional certification offered through the International Association of Administrative Professionals
Similar Occupations Court reporters, information clerks, medical transcriptionists, paralegals, receptionists

Specialized Skill Sets

An employer may require an office assistant to have particular or specialized skills. The most common specialized offices are in the legal and medical profession. However, specific skills are also used in educational institutions, engineering and scientific offices, and government agencies.

  • Legal Office Assistants prepare routine legal documents for attorneys. These include subpoenas, complaints, summonses, responses, and motions. They may also help with legal research and review legal journal articles.
  • Medical Office Assistants work for a doctor, hospital, or other medical providers and are responsible for organizing, maintaining, and updating patient records. They help arrange the logistics for inpatient and outpatient treatments. Often, medical office assistants fill out billing information and deal with insurance companies.
  • Technical Office Assistants who work for engineers and in the offices of other technical professions must be familiar with the subject area to help with correspondence and research. They may also be responsible for maintaining technical databases and libraries.
  • Educational Office Assistants working for educational institutions, keep track of student records, class schedules, and teachers' calendars. They may have an added responsibility of organizing communication between students, parents, and teachers.
  • Government Office Assistants often need to be able to explain the function of their agency to the public. They answer questions and provide information. They also need to understand government regulations and procedures in order to fill out forms and organize information.

Salary Info and Job Outlook

According to PayScale.com, the majority of office assistants earn between $23,000 and $46,000 a year, as of June 2019. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov) projects that the employment of secretaries and administrative assistants, in general, will decline by approximately 5% between 2016 and 2026. More specifically, the BLS published the following rates of employment growth or decline for job categories considered related to office assisting: executive secretaries and administrative assistants: -17 %; medical secretaries: 22%; legal secretaries: -19%; and general office clerks: -1% from 2016 to 2026.

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