Administrative assistants are key members of teams across a wide range of industries, in companies ranging from small businesses to worldwide conglomerates. In fact, they’re useful in almost every industry, from healthcare to industrial work to technology and everything in between. This is good news for current and prospective administrative assistants because it means there are plenty of job opportunities out there.
Another piece of good news: The barrier to entering the administrative assistant field is low, so it’s easy to get started and move up the ladder from there if you wish. Or, you can have a fulfilling and rewarding career as an administrative assistant all on your own. The choice is completely up to you.
What exactly does an administrative assistant do, and what does it take to become one? And once you’re an administrative assistant, where can you go from there? Let’s dive deeper into this compelling profession.
What Does an Administrative Assistant Do?
Administrative assistants are responsible for keeping an office running, and many of their duties involve clerical tasks. However, the job duties often go far beyond that. Depending on the job itself and the requirements, an administrative assistant may have a role in everything from clerical work to dealing with customers or members of the public.
Typical duties of an administrative assistant include things like:
- Coordinating administrative functions including budgets and clerical duties
- Reviewing and maintaining computer files
- Conducting fiscal reviews and surveys
- Coordinating and scheduling meetings and conferences
- Maintaining meeting minutes
- Coordinating purchasing, equipment, inventory, etc.
- Preparing reports
Let’s take a closer look at three particular duties of the average administrative assistant: phone system management, data entry, and meeting coordination.
Phone System Management
A big part of most administrative assistants’ jobs is phone system management. The role may or may not include answering the business’s main phone (this job is often left to receptionists, but sometimes it’s the duty of an administrative assistant). Either way, most administrative assistants need to perform some level of phone system management, meaning directing calls to where they need to go, placing callers on hold when necessary, and answering questions both from external customers or internal employees. Good customer service skills are a must for a great administrative assistant.
Administrative assistants often collect data related to business performance, as well as other business metrics, and compile these numbers in spreadsheet form. This information is then used by data analysts, supervisors, or even the administrative assistant themselves to build reports. That’s why administrative assistants need experience with spreadsheet software like Excel, as well as excellent computer and typing skills.
Administrative assistants are usually responsible for coordinating departmental or team meetings, shareholder meetings, and other types of meetings. They may also be responsible for organizing guest lists for conferences, retreats, and other types of gatherings. This is where a candidate’s multitasking and time management skills come into play – coordinating a lot of moving parts can be challenging but it must be done correctly to make sure meetings and conferences go off without a hitch.
Administrative Skills and Qualifications
What kind of qualifications are needed to become an administrative assistant? In most cases, a college degree is not required (although it would certainly set a candidate apart from the competition).
Here are some of the skills and qualifications needed to become an administrative assistant:
High School Diploma or Equivalent
Most administrative assistant jobs require you to have your high school diploma or an equivalent, such as a GED. A college degree isn’t usually required, but specific qualifications or certifications can act as a big boost in your career. There are a variety to consider, including:
- Administrative assistant certification
- Certified virtual assistant certification
- Certified executive assistant certification
- Microsoft Office specialist certification
Exceptional Verbal and Written Communication Skills
No matter the scope of your job as an administrative assistant, it’s safe to say you’ll need excellent verbal and written communication skills. Much of what you do involves communication, whether it’s face-to-face or through email or other electronic mediums. And you’ll be communicating with your boss, other team members, vendors, and customers on any given day. Being able to communicate clearly and concisely is essential.
Administrative assistants don’t just organize their own schedules, workload, and tasks. They manage other people’s, too. That’s why having excellent organizational skills is key. As an administrative assistant, you may need to plan meetings, keep various spreadsheets up to date and organized, and update and align various calendars and schedules. If wires get crossed, things get missed – and that can cause disruptions and even lost revenue.
While you don’t need to be a computer whiz or an IT expert to be an administrative assistant, basic computer and technical skills are needed. Familiarity with programs like Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint are a big plus, as well as skills with project management or time-tracker tools. Some administrative assistants are expected to use accounting systems like QuickBooks, or update and post on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and LinkedIn. And as mentioned above, being a quick typist is always a good qualification, too.
Many administrative assistants find that they’re the go-to person to solve problems, big and small, around the office. Having sharp problem-solving skills and the ability to break issues down into smaller chunks in order to tackle them is a great ability to possess for almost any job, and the administrative assistant role is no exception. Show that you‘re a great problem-solver, and the entire office will soon rely on your expertise.
Want to really stand out as an administrative assistant? Demonstrating that you have business acumen is a huge plus in the eyes of hiring managers. Having a basic understanding of things like budgeting, profit and loss statements, business strategy, and other key business areas can help set you apart from the competition.
How Much Do Administrative Assistants Make?
According to Payscale, the average hourly rate for administrative assistants in the U.S. is $16.53 an hour. Of course, this pay rate can be higher or lower depending on a variety of factors, like location, job duties, experience, and more. The range for administrative assistant hourly pay is between $12 and $23 an hour as of early 2022. This equals an administrative assistant salary range of about $27,000 to $52,000 a year.
What is the Career Path for an Administrative Assistant?
One of the great things about the administrative assistant profession is that it can serve as a great stepping stone to other rewarding positions. Three examples include Executive Assistants, Office Managers, and Human Resources Coordinators.
Many administrative assistants go on to become executive assistants. These two roles have a lot in common, but they are not technically the same. An executive assistant usually works for one member of the leadership team at a company, perhaps a C-suite member like a CEO or CFO. They’re responsible for overseeing projects, solving problems, and coordinating the schedule and calendar of the particular executive they work for. The skills a candidate develops as an administrative assistant will certainly serve them well if they decide to pursue the executive assistant path.
Another logical forward step for administrative assistants is becoming an office manager. Office managers oversee the daily operations of an office or department – duties may include budgeting, supervising staff, hiring and firing, handling disputes, coaching employees, dealing with inventory and ordering, and more. According to Indeed, the national average salary for office managers is above $51,000 a year, which can represent a growth in pay and responsibility for many administrative assistants.
Human Resources Coordinator
A human resources coordinator helps the human resources department with everything from updating policies and employee records and handling complaints to interviewing, recruiting, and hiring. Depending on the role, an administrative assistant may need to undergo HR-specific training or get a degree or certification in HR, but this isn’t always necessary.
Find an Administrative Assistant Job in Erie, PA Today
Are you interested in the exciting career field of the administrative assistant? With plenty of rewarding duties and the chance to develop and grow your skills to advance to many other fulfilling jobs, this path represents a wealth of opportunities. And with a low barrier to entry – most administrative assistant jobs only require a high school diploma or equivalent – it’s easy for almost anyone to get into the field and start learning more. Additionally, becoming an administrative assistant opens you up to many other exciting careers, like an executive assistant, office manager, HR professional, and more.
Want to learn more about the role of an administrative assistant? Looking for administrative assistant jobs in Erie, PA? Turn to the area’s premier professional staffing and recruiting agency for help: Career Concepts Staffing Services. Our company was founded in 1967 and is Northwestern Pennsylvania’s largest locally owned full-service staffing firm. Contact a member of our recruitment team to get started on your administrative assistant journey today.