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How to Become an Administrative Assistant

Do you enjoy problem-solving? Do you enjoy a good challenge in a team environment? Then an administrative assistant is the job for you! 

Being an administrative assistant will give you an opportunity to work in a fast-paced environment, solve problems, and assist the management team. You may also be involved in assisting customers and providing reports for various departments. On top of that, you will provide support for multiple department managers and staff, including scheduling, travel planning, and more.

As an administrative assistant, you will be responsible for answering calls, preparing reports, ordering supplies, updating and maintaining the website(s), and assisting staff in the completion of projects.

Sample job description

We’re searching for an administrative assistant with a minimum of one year of experience to help manage our office. The administrative assistant supports the local operation and initiatives of [Your Company Name] with various duties and responsibilities. You may be tasked with new hire onboarding, physical and electronic filing of employee-specific documentation, planning travel for executives, answering inbound calls and routing calls appropriately, and scheduling and attending meetings while keeping notes. Admin assistants need proven experience in Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Strong analytical, problem-solving, basic research, and time management skills are imperative for a successful assistant at [Your Company Name].

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Plan and coordinate meeting arrangements, including travel and lodging
  • Organize work and proofread documents
  • Maintain and update company website(s)
  • Manage calendars for meetings and detail these meetings to staff and directors
  • Order and maintain supplies needed for meetings, office staff, and directors
  • Answer phone calls; route callers, respond to inquiries, greet visitors, request and provide routine information to walk-ins
  • Exposure to confidential information and handle confidential matters

Education and experience

  • High school diploma or equivalent 
  • Minimum of one year experience in the field

Required skills and qualifications

  • Exceptional communication skills
  • Impeccable attention to detail
  • Proficiency using Microsoft Office Word, Excel, and PowerPoint
  • Flexibility to cover other departments during fluctuations, vacation coverage, or leave of absence 
  • Excellent multitasking and organization skills

Preferred qualifications

  • Experience in the field for more than a year
  • Experience working in a team setting
  • Experience maintaining and updating websites
  • Proofreading, editing, and document organization experience
  • Customer service experience
  • Experience creating infographics, such as diagrams, screenshots, workflows, graphs, etc.

Typical work environment

Administrative assistants work in an office as part of a team. They often consult with staff and directors to manage the way information circulates throughout the company. They’re also tasked with the ability to provide information to clients and walk-ins.

Occasionally, there may be weekend events or meetings that they will need to attend. Administrative assistants should expect to sit at a desk while on the computer for most of the workday.

Typical hours

The typical work hours for an administrative assistant in an office setting are 9 AM to 5 PM, Monday through Friday. Weekend hours are rare, but not unheard of when there are events or deliveries that need to be overseen.

Available certifications

Administrative assistants work in a variety of industries, and there are many ways to stand out from the crowd by taking classes. We recommend joining Udemy or Coursera where you can find classes on many administrative skills. You can also get ahead with unique certifications, including: 

  • Professional Administrative Certification of Excellence (PACE) – With PACE, skills such as interpersonal communications, task and project management, computer and internet technology, and management skills are highlighted. PACE can be acquired through an online course through the American Society of Administrative Professionals (ASAP).
  • Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) – If you desire to work as an administrative assistant in the medical field, obtaining a CMAA will aid in this process. Being CMAA certified allows you to be responsible for assisting medical staff and patients in a hospital or clinic setting by scheduling appointments, patient intake, answering phones, and maintaining databases. A CMAA can be acquired through an online course and exam through the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
  • Certified Informational Technology Professional (CITP) – If you want to further your career in the ever-growing technology field, being CITP certified will help. CITP is for public accountants and will showcase your ability to provide business insight, knowledge in the technology field, and set you apart from other admin assistants in the field. This is a great certification if you hope to move up in the workplace.

Career path

If you’re hoping to become an administrative assistant, you’ll need at least a high school degree or equivalent. It’s also important to have experience in the field. This could be secretarial experience, receptionist experience, or something in a related field. 

Looking into courses that will develop your proficiency in Microsoft Office applications is always a good idea for admin assistants. Being a friendly, customer-focused person is one of the most important skills to have when choosing this career. 

Administrative assistants need to develop soft skills like basic computer skills, so they can reply to emails, schedule meetings, plan travel, write documents, and maintain website(s) for the company.

US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook

SOC Code: 43-000

2019 Employment3,500,000
Projected Employment in 20213,425,000
Projected 2019-2029 Percentage Shift 5% Decrease
Projected 2019-2029 Numeric Shift 175,000 Decrease

Since companies are using online services for everyday access to businesses and communications, there has been a slight decrease in administrative assistant positions. Companies that can shift to an online environment have reduced their hours, eliminated the position completely, or combined this position with other similar job positions. Obtaining any related certifications, like Certified Medical Administrative Assistant, can increase your likelihood of a guaranteed position in the desired field.