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Office Administrator Career Guide

Are you organized and self-motivated? Are you detail-oriented and have excellent written and verbal communication skills? If so, consider the position of an office administrator.

Office administrators coordinate office activities and operations, provide clerical and administrative support to management, and make sure the workplace is running efficiently by finding ways to improve processes that keep work flowing. Office administrator’s work might include bookkeeping, purchasing supplies, and overseeing maintenance of office equipment. They are competent, know how to prioritize work, and can work with little supervision.

An office administrator sets clear goals for the staff and ensures those goals are met. They find creative ways to make sure the team is performing at an optimum level without getting burned out. Office administrators have a talent for effectively organizing and processing information, making strategic, informed decisions, and getting things done.

Sample job description

Our rapidly growing business is looking for a dynamic office administrator to help get our company to the next level. This is the perfect opportunity for someone who likes a variety of tasks and doesn’t need a lot of oversight. We are looking for someone who is responsible, mature, a self-starter, personable, organized, can multitask, positive, outgoing/expressive, excellent with computers, and is passionate and enthusiastic with our clients.

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Work closely with managers to maintain office operations
  • Answer inbound phone calls and route the call to the appropriate personnel
  • Perform general office administration and clerical tasks
  • Book travel arrangements
  • Schedule team meetings and client meetings
  • Take meeting minutes and transcribe them into a digital format
  • Implement strategic office procedures for employees, administrators, and other staff
  • Post open job positions to job boards
  • Access financial reporting records, generate reports, and transcribe data for presentations and upcoming events
  • Supervise administrative staff
  • Maintain inventory of office supplies and purchase new supplies as needed
  • Welcome visitors and direct them to relevant office/personnel.
  • Performing bookkeeping tasks such as invoicing, accounts receivable, and budgets
  • Ensure adherence to company procedures and policies

Education and experience

  • Minimum: high school diploma or GED
  • Preferred: associates degree or higher in office administration or related field
  • 2+ years related experience

Required skills and qualifications

  • Excellent oral and written communication skills
  • Detail-oriented and highly accurate
  • Highly organized and flexible
  • Ability to multitask, prioritize, and meet deadlines
  • Self-motivated
  • Working knowledge of email, scheduling, spreadsheets, and presentation software
  • Exceptional decision-making skills
  • Thorough understanding of confidentiality

Preferred qualifications

  • Management experience in an office setting
  • Specific industry experience 
  • Proficient with Microsoft Office software and phone systems
  • Bookkeeping experience
  • Experience handling office equipment
  • Customer service skills
  • Research skills
  • Experience managing budgets and expenses
  • Comfortable handling confidential information
  • Ability to adapt to changing situations 

Typical work environment

Office administrators work in office settings and spend most of their day sitting at a desk using computers, phones, printers, and other office equipment. The work tends to be company and industry-specific. Many administrators work with a large clerical staff in hospitals, banks, telecommunications companies, etc. Most offices are well ventilated and well lit, and the work is not physically strenuous. However, supervising a variety of employees and personalities while meeting management deadlines can make the job stressful at times. 

Typical hours

Office administrators normally work an average of 35 to 40 hours a week, although overtime is not uncommon. Depending on the company and industry, office administrators might be required to work nights, weekends, or holidays.

Available certifications

There are a number of administrative certifications available for office administrators, including:

  • The Certified Administrative Professional (CAP). This certification is accredited by the National Commission of Certifying Agencies (NCCA) and is specifically designed for administrative professionals. To be eligible without a degree, you’ll need 4 years of relevant work experience. With an AA or bachelor’s degree, you’ll need 2 years of experience. Relevant work experience includes verbal and written communication, business writing, records management, project management, and accounting functions. The course covers areas such as organizational communications, business writing and document production, and office and records management. With a CAP, you demonstrate that you have the administrative skills necessary to excel as an office administrator. 
  • The Certified Manager (CM). Offered by the Institute of Certified Professional Managers, this certification program verifies your ability to manage and your potential to lead with a level of competency. The eligibility requirements include a combination of education and experience. To earn the certification, you must pass a series of three CM assessment exams covering the foundations of management, planning and organizing, and leading and controlling. The CM certification will separate candidates from their peers for hiring and career advancement.
  • Certified Management Accountant (CMA). Offered by the Institute of Management Accountants, the CMA is a professional certification credential in management and financial accounting. The CMA signifies that you possess knowledge in the areas such as financial planning, analysis, control, risk management and internal controls, and professional ethics. To obtain certification, you must pass a rigorous exam, meet the educational and experience requirements, and commit to continuous learning through continuing professional education (CPE).

Career path

To become an office administrator, some level of education beyond high school is preferred, such as an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in business or business administration. Related experience can make up for a lack of secondary education. Computer literacy is an important skill to acquire, as well as developing a solid foundation in math and English. Classes in bookkeeping, database management, and business communication are also beneficial. Learn specific skills by obtaining in-depth on-the-job training in the industry you are working in, such as handling or maintaining patient medical records for those working in the medical field. The career advancement possibilities for an office administrator depend on how motivated and ambitious you are. 

US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook

SOC Code: 27-3042

2020 Employment220,800
Projected Employment in 2029229,600
Projected 2019-2029 Percentage Shift 4% increase
Projected 2019-2029 Numeric Shift8,800 increase

As technology continues to develop and advance, more and more companies are turning to cloud computing to improve and streamline processes like project management, data organization, and information backup. Office automation is a growing trend. Many everyday tasks are now automated, saving time, cutting costs, and boosting efficiency. This trend will continue as technology moves forward. With remote work rising, the office environment is changing. Companies are becoming more flexible in how, when, and where employees do their jobs. Mobile devices, collaborative software, and other technology are helping to make this transition work smoothly.