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Office Assistant Career Guide

Do you enjoy arranging paperwork, making schedules, or answering and transferring phone calls? Are you familiar with the use of a computer, and are you an expert in the use of Microsoft Office? You just might fit the role of an office assistant.

An office assistant is in charge of all phone business while offering assistance to employees. Typically, office assistants oversee making copies of documents, sending important and general emails, and scheduling meetings.

The daily operations of assistants include taking notes during meetings, distributing meeting minutes, and arranging and preparing the location for meetings. In particular organizations that are specialized in production, the office assistant will take inventory and communicate with vendors and consumers.

Sorting out mail, directing visitors, coordinating with managers to update schedules, distributing mail, and performing several clerical and administrative tasks are other responsibilities assigned to the office assistant.

Sample job description

A helping hand is key to a successful company, and a well-trained office assistant is the helping hand we need. Our company represents many individuals, which comes with a load of clerical needs, and we need an office assistant to help keep organized and provide support to staff and executives.

If you’re looking to become an assistant, you must have a desire to explain and break down information gathered and turn it into an accessible and understandable version. An office assistant with a charming and pleasing personality, with strong communication skills, is precisely who we need.

Your duties will be to handle all incoming phone calls, direct visitors to the right offices, greet clients, manage files, and update paperwork and documents. Your ability to write legibly and work proficiently with Microsoft Office is essential.

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Update paperwork, maintain documents, and word processing
  • Manage the organization’s filing system
  • Record information as needed, especially during meetings
  • Help organize and maintain all offices’ common areas
  • Perform the necessary general office clerk duties and see to all errands
  • Coordinate events
  • Organize travel by booking accommodations and reservations when required
  • Greet and direct clients and visitors
  • Handle all incoming calls and other communications
  • Schedule meetings and send invites for meetings to attendees
  • Oversee all clerical tasks, such as sorting and distributing mail
  • Maintain the supply inventory of the organization

Education and experience

  • High school diploma or equivalent
  • Less than 5 years experience
  • No typical on-the-job training needed

Required skills and qualifications

  • Great computer skills
  • Knowledgeable Excel basics (formatting, copy, paste, sort, etc.)
  • Experience in QuickBooks 
  • Exceptional phone skills
  • Outstanding customer service
  • Quick learner and ability to multitask

Preferred qualifications

  • Certified Microsoft Office Specialist
  • Top-notch experience in computer skills and ability to operate general office equipment
  • Excellent skills to prioritize and organize 
  • Comfortable working independently
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills
  • Excellent interpersonal skills and outstanding customer service
  • Must be committed to details

Typical work environment

Office assistants’ typical environment revolves around other employees. A typical day of an office assistant involves answering phone calls, making copies of documents, organizing supplies, greeting visitors, rearranging schedules, and running errands.

Typical hours

The typical work hours for an office assistant in an office setting are 9 AM to 5 PM, Monday through Friday. Although it may vary per organization. 

Available certifications

A large percentage of organizations are in serious need of office assistants, and there are many institutions offering certifications to make job seekers more valuable. They include:

  • Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA). CNA provides opportunities to train you to be a certified nurse assistant knowledgeable enough to work with other health care professionals and to offer quality care for elderly or sick individuals in hospitals, nursing homes, and at home. All you need to do is go through the training and pass the oral and written exams to be certified. The training allows you to be able to work in nursing homes, hospitals, and at home. Your certificate has to be renewed after a particular period, and you can work as an office volunteer, office support clerk, office specialist, American Red Cross, or certified nurse assistant.
  • Microsoft Office 365. This is specifically designed for office workers, students, or instructors to navigate through the features of Office 365; these features include; Outlook Web App, Office Web Apps, Lync collaboration functionality, and SharePoint Online. Office 365 is popular amongst office clerks, office assistants, and majorly office workers.
  • Microsoft 365 Ultimate Course 2021. Training of more than two years after high school is required, and an oral and written exam will be required to be taken for the certificate, which must be renewed after 5 years. The AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner Practice Tests on Udemy can be used for this training. The Microsoft 365 Certificate is popular among office administrators, office associates, administrative office assistants, and office clerks.

Career path

The journey to becoming an office assistant begins with your high school diploma or GED. Pursuing certifications to improve oneself and qualification is an even better way of climbing the ladder of promotion.

Office assistants need to have their communication, spoken, written, and listening skills sharpened. Taking language courses to better oneself for this position.

Soft skills like expertise in interviewing and collaborating can be learned. This will assist in writing informatively on the meeting’s minutes and it could also help construct emails that will convey a consistent message.

US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook

SOC Code: 43-6014

2020 Employment2,053,500
Projected Employment in 20301,896,700
Projected 2020-2030 Percentage Shift 8% decrease
Projected 2020-2030 Numeric Shift156,900 decrease

Employers are more inclined to search for tech-savvy job seekers because their goal is to best utilize the qualities of aspiring office assistants to the advantage of their companies.

Today, assistants are being replaced with software programs that serve the users’ needs. What many do not know is that most employers are more inclined to hire people familiar with these programs to have them do the work instead.