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Administrative Assistant


How to become an Administrative Assistant
Administrative Assistant Job Duties
Skills and Qualities needed to become an Administrative Assistant
Administrative Assistant Salaries and Earnings
Influential Professionals in this field
Leading Organizations in this field
Top Cities for Administrative Assistant Jobs
Other Careers of Interest

How to become an Administrative Assistant.

Computer proficiency and excellent interpersonal communication skills are the ideal qualifications that most employers look for in a new hire. There is an increased demand for administrative assistants who are adaptable and versatile, regardless if the business is a Fortune 500 or a local community non-profit.

Due to daily interactions with the public one imperative quality an administrative assistant needs is excellent customer service: individuals must be tactful in their dealings with both the general public and with their co-workers. Discretion, good judgment, organizational or management ability, initiative, good interpersonal communication skills, and the ability to work independently are qualifications in higher-level administrative positions.

Employers of executive administrative assistants increasingly are seeking candidates with a college degree to work closely with top executives. A degree related to the business or industry may provide a job seeker with an advantage in the application process. Most executive positions desire an applicant to possess a Liberal Arts degree or a bachelor's in Business Management. For most medical and legal administrative assistants, they must go through specialized training programs that teach them the language of the industry.

Once hired, many professionals acquire more advanced skills through on-the-job instruction by other employees or by equipment and software vendors. Individuals may attend classes or participate in online education to learn how to operate new office technologies, such as information storage systems, scanners, or new updated software packages. As office automation continues to evolve, retraining and continuing education will remain integral parts of administrative assistant jobs.

What does an Administrative Assistant do?

Depending on the employer and the business sector, administrative assistants serve as information and communication managers for an office or a home-based company: they are responsible for a variety of administrative and clerical duties necessary to run an organization efficiently.

Administrative assistants are the conduits between the public and their employer. For many companies the administrative assistant not only oversees the managing of the office culture but is in charge of scheduling their employer's daily work agenda.

Job duties can include planning and scheduling meetings and/or appointments, organizing and maintaining paper or electronic files, to managing projects. Administrative assistants conduct research and can be expected to train office staff. They must have sufficient knowledge in maintaining the efficiency of office equipment and conducting minor repairs. Most importantly, they need to be able to disseminate information by using the telephone, mail services, Web sites, and e-mail. Many administrative assistants handle travel, transportation and guest arrangements, and may be expected to run personal errands for their employer.

Almost one-fifth of administrative assistants work part time or in temporary positions. A few participate in job-sharing arrangements, in which two people divide responsibility for a single job. The majority of administrative assistants are full-time employees who work a standard forty-hour week.

What skills or qualities should an Administrative Assistant possess?

Administrative Assistants should know word processing as well as expert writing and communication skills are essential for a successful career as an administrative assistant. Professionals are expected to have basic typing skills at forty words a minute and to have an extensive knowledge of software applications that include desktop publishing, spreadsheets, along with project and database management.

Professional training programs in this field are offered through many universities and online colleges. Students are trained in various administrative office procedures, finance and management skills, and software programs that include PC basics, keyboarding and the Internet.


Administrative assistants must be diligent professionals who are able to prioritize their assignments, meet deadlines, and be able to complete multiple tasks consecutively in an active--and, often stressful--environment. They must have excellent interpersonal skills in order to delegate and lead, as well as, take orders from their superior.

Office culture is influenced by the industry it serves and an administrative assistant must be adaptable to work effectively within that environment, whether it is a formal or informal.

How much does an Administrative Assistant make?

Industry and education determine the income that an administrative assistant can earn. Certification and skill level, experience, and responsibility expected in the specific job position all contribute to the variances in income.

For professionals employed in government and university positions or surgical hospitals, the average income averaged around $27,450 in May 2006.

Executive administrative assistants working in companies or business gained an increase in earnings, with an average of $37,240 recorded in May 2006.

Professional administrative assistants employed in the legal and medical fields earned the highest income: $50,000.


Who are some influential professionals in this field?

Although not called an administrative assistant, Alexander Hamilton fulfilled this secretarial role for George Washington, acting as his confidential "administrative assistant." Washington eventually made him Treasury Secretary, which used many of the skills from his earlier secretarial days.

Who are some leading organizations in Administrative Assisting?

The International Association of Administrative Professionals; the National Association of Legal Secretaries (NALS), Inc.; and, the Legal Secretaries International, Inc., are three organizations that all offer testing and certification in office managerial skills. As administrative assistants gain experience, they can earn several different designations (or titles). Prominent designations include the Certified Professional Secretary (CPS) and the Certified Administrative Professional (CAP). Individuals who desire to be certified as a legal support professional, can acquire the Accredited Legal Secretary (ALS) designation through a testing process administered by NALS.

NALS offers two additional designations: Professional Legal Secretary (PLS), considered an advanced certification for legal support professionals, and a designation for proficiency as a paralegal. Legal Secretaries International confers the Certified Legal Secretary Specialist (CLSS) designation in areas such as intellectual property, criminal law, civil litigation, probate, and business law to those who have five years of legal experience and pass an examination.

What are the top cities for Administrative Assistant Jobs?

The top city for administrative assistant jobs in the United States is New York City, with Houston Texas a distant second. After Houston comes Chicago Illinois, and then Los Angeles California. In fifth place for administrative assistant jobs in the United States is Dallas Texas, with Phoenix Arizona in sixth place.

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