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What Is an Administrative Assistant?

Posted: May 28, 2021

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An administrative assistant is the backbone of any office setting, often carrying out the routine clerical tasks that keep modern businesses running and functioning smoothly. If you’re looking for a career change or planning to re-enter the workforce after a break, then working as an administrative assistant can offer a stable and rewarding career in a variety of industries.

This is also a good opportunity for anyone who has been recently displaced or dislocated from their career. It’s perfect for anyone eyeing a promotion that’ll take them to the next step in their current career path as well.

At Career Quest, we offer programs that can get you started in your new career as an administrative assistant in just 8-15 months. That’s less than two years! Reach out to our Admissions team to learn more about our two programs that prepare students for a career in office administration.

Administrative Assistant Program | Business Administration (AAS) Program

What Does an Administrative Assistant Do?

When you’re an administrative assistant, no two days will be exactly the same. In this role, you’ll experience a diverse workload with a mix of customer- or client-facing duties and back-office tasks. Of course, your daily duties will vary based on your specific role, since administrative assistants are vital to a variety of industries. The most common tasks you’ll perform as an administrative assistant include:

  • Answering phones, transferring calls, and taking messages
  • Greeting and assisting visitors
  • Creating spreadsheets and updating databases
  • Performing basic bookkeeping
  • Filing print and digital documents
  • Scheduling appointments and meetings
  • Using computers to generate reports and conduct research

Administrative assistants can hold many titles as well. Some may work as general office clerks, accounting assistants, and receptionists.

Executive Assistants and Office Managers

Administrative assistants with more experience and additional career training and education can work as executive assistants and office managers. Often, these positions are achieved through a promotion after proving your skills as an employee, as well as your dedication to the company and your role.

As an executive assistant, you’ll support top executives at an organization by performing more complex responsibilities, like reviewing documents, scheduling meetings for an executive, and making travel arrangements.

Some administrative assistants can also advance in their careers to the role of office manager. In the latter role, you’ll be in charge of all the administrative aspects of the office. You may manage the office alone or supervise a team of administrative assistants, office clerks, or receptionists. Some of the duties office managers perform include:

  • Supervising clerical and administrative staff
  • Setting goals and deadlines for the administrative office
  • Developing and maintaining policies and procedures that improve operations
  • Overseeing the upkeep of office furniture, lighting, and more
  • Ordering supplies for the office
  • More advanced bookkeeping tasks

If you want to move up in your career and land a role as an executive assistant or office manager, then attending a business administration (AAS) degree program or administrative assistant certification program can help you get ahead and meet your career goals.

Where Do Administrative Assistants Work?

Virtually every industry requires administrative support of some kind, making administrative assistants very in-demand professionals. So, you’ll find administrative assistant careers available in a variety of workplaces, including:

  • Public and private schools
  • Colleges and universities
  • Private companies and offices
  • Legal offices
  • Healthcare practices
  • Government offices
  • Nonprofit organizations

If there’s a particular industry that interests you, consider looking for administrative positions within that industry. This is a great way to ensure that you find a fulfilling career at a company or organization that’s working toward a goal you’re passionate about.

Keep in mind, however, that administrative assistants in law or healthcare industries may require additional knowledge and training in particular terminology and procedures. If you’re interested in an administrative role in a healthcare setting, then you may also want to consider a medical office administration (AAS) degree.

Administrative Assistant Work Hours

Most administrative assistants, executive assistants, and office managers work full-time normal daytime business hours to meet the needs of the office. This is ideal for parents who need to be home in the evening to pick up the kids from after-school activities.

Receptionists are the most likely role in this field to work part-time, evening, or overnight hours. However, sometimes administrative assistants may also work part-time or outside of normal business hours. This is especially true in the healthcare industry if you work at a hospital or any other practice with extended hours.

Administrative Assistant Salary

As an administrative assistant, your expected salary will vary greatly based on your position, training, experience, location, industry, and many other factors. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the 2020 median pay for office support roles was $38,720.* You can also see the 2020 median pay for common administrative positions in the table below:

Position2020 Median Pay (according to the BLS)
General Office Clerk$35,330*
Administrative Assistant$40,990*
Receptionist$31,110*
Office Manager$98,890**

Remember, this is the median pay in 2020. Some administrative assistants will earn more and some will earn less than the median. Your average salary will also vary by location. For example, Glassdoor estimates that the average salary for administrative assistants in Lansing, MI, was around $40,028 per year.***

What Skills Do Administrative Assistants Need?

You already know that administrative assistants can work in a variety of industries, so versatility and the ability to adapt to an ever-changing role is an important skill that administrative assistants should develop. This is one of the many soft skills that administrative assistants need. Some other skills that you should have include:

  • Excellent time management
  • Organizational abilities
  • Good communication skills
  • The ability to predict and respond to the needs of others
  • Quality customer service skills
  • The ability to multi-task

These are skills that you can learn on-the-job during the externship we require as a part of the business administration (AAS) degree program at our online career college. This will also give you an opportunity to familiarize yourself with appropriate office etiquette.

Of course, these aren’t the only skills you’ll need. Through your training at our career college, you’ll also learn how to perform key aspects of the role, like:

  • Typing and word processing
  • Basic accounting and bookkeeping
  • Communication
  • Project management
  • Microsoft Office programs
  • Basic marketing
  • Managerial skills

How Do I Become an Administrative Assistant?

Your road to your new career as an administrative assistant begins with quality career training. Our two business administration and administrative assistant programs at Career Quest can help you get the career training you need to land a great administrative role.

Administrative Assistant Program at Career Quest

If you want an accelerated pathway right to that new administrative assistant role, then the administrative assistant certificate program at Career Quest may be right for you. This 8-month program can help you learn the skills you need to secure a fulfilling career in today’s modern office setting in less than one year.

Some of the courses you’ll take as a part of this program include:

  • Intro to Computers
  • Business Fundamentals
  • Business Communication
  • Business Office Skills
  • Project Management
  • QuickBooks

Business Administration (AAS) Degree Program

Students who want even more in-depth training on all aspects of the administrative side of any business may want to enroll in our 15-month business administration (AAS) degree program. You’ll graduate from this program with an applied associate’s degree in less than two years.

In addition to all the courses in our administrative assistant program, students in our business administration (AAS) degree program take classes like:

  • Accounting Essentials
  • Managerial Strategies
  • Human Resource Management
  • Externship—Admin Office

The business administration (AAS) degree program is a great fit for you if you want to one day hold the role of an office manager. Current administrative assistants often complete this degree program to enhance their skills and move up in their current role.

Administrative Assistant Certifications

We also prepare students to take Microsoft Office certifications that can enhance their administrative skills even more, including:

  • Microsoft Word
  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft PowerPoint
  • Microsoft Outlook

Our programs are designed to prepare you for applicable certifications, so reach out to Career Quest to find out what certifications our business administration and administrative assistant students are currently eligible to take.

How Career Quest Helps You Start Your New Administrative Assistant Career

At Career Quest, it’s our goal to set you up for success in your future career as an administrative assistant. That’s why our online career college goes above and beyond to offer additional perks and benefits to our students, like:

  • Small class sizes of 25 students or less
  • Tuition discounts and financial assistance for eligible students
  • Inclusive tuition that includes all coursework materials
  • Fully online curriculum that offers even more flexibility

We also have a Career Services Department that offers lifetime career placement assistance. We can help you with your career search—even after you’ve graduated—with resumé and cover letter writing tips, interview prep and mock interviews, and access to local employment openings from our many employment partners.

Start Your Administrative Assistant Career with Career Quest Today!

Are you ready to begin a new career as an administrative assistant or take your current career to new heights? The business administration (AAS) degree and administrative assistant certificate program at Career Quest can help you do just that in as little as 8-15 months.

Classes are starting soon. Contact our Admissions team and find out how you can enroll today!

*https://www.bls.gov/ooh/office-and-administrative-support/home.htm

**https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/administrative-services-managers.htm

***https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/lansing-administrative-assistant-salary-SRCH_IL.0,7_IM472_KO8,32.htm#:~:text=The%20average%20salary%20for%20a,is%20%2438%2C575%20in%20Lansing%2C%20MI.