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Administration Careers

Career Description

Administrative Assistants provide high-level administrative support by conducting research, preparing statistical reports,  handling information requests, and performing clerical functions such as preparing correspondence, receiving visitors, arranging conference calls, and scheduling meetings. May also train and supervise lower-level clerical staff.

Common Work Tasks

  • Provide high-level administrative support for an office and for top executives of an organization
  • Review incoming memos, submissions, and reports in order to determine their significance and to plan for their distribution
  • Serve as information and communication managers for an office; plan and schedule meetings and appointments; organize and maintain paper and electronic files; manage projects; conduct research; and disseminate information by using the telephone, mail services, Web sites, and e-mail.
  • Prepare agendas and make arrangements for meetings of committees and executive boards
  • Use a variety of office equipment, such as fax machines, photocopiers, scanners, and videoconferencing and telephone systems
  • Create spreadsheets; compose correspondence;  manage databases; and create presentations, reports, and documents using desktop publishing software and digital graphics
  • Negotiate with vendors, maintain and examine leased equipment, purchase supplies, manage areas such as stockrooms or corporate libraries, and retrieve data from various sources
  • Provide training and orientation for new staff,  conduct research on the Internet, and operate and troubleshoot new office technologies

Other Job Titles

Administrative Assistants are also known by other titles,  including:

  • Secretaries
  • Executive Secretaries
  • Clerical Workers
  • Word Processors

Education,  Training, and Experience

Education and Training
 
High school graduates who have basic office skills may qualify for entry-level administrative assistant positions. They can acquire these skills in various ways. Training ranges from high school vocational education programs that teach office skills and typing to 1- and 2-year programs in office administration offered by business and vocational-technical schools, and community colleges. Many temporary placement agencies also provide formal training in computer and office skills. Most medical and legal administrative assistants must go through specialized training programs that teach them the language of the industry.

Employers of executive administrative assistants increasingly are seeking candidates with a college degree, as these administrative assistants work closely with top executives. A degree related to the business or industry in which a person is seeking employment may provide the job seeker with an advantage in the application process.

Experience
 
Administrative assistants should be proficient in typing and good at spelling, punctuation, grammar, and oral communication. Employers also look for good customer service and interpersonal skills because administrative assistants must be tactful in their dealings with people. Discretion, good judgment, organizational or management ability, initiative, and the ability to work independently are especially important for higher-level administrative positions. Changes in the office environment have increased the demand for administrative assistants who are adaptable and versatile.

Salary

The median annual salary for an Administrative Assistant is $38,000. The top 10 percent earn more than $59,000, and the lowest 10 percent earn less than $26,000.  Median earnings in the industries employing the largest number of administrative assistants are:

  • Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools - $39,760
  • Local Government - $41,740
  • Employment Services - $35,050
  • Management of Companies and Enterprises - $45,280
  • Elementary and Secondary Schools - $39,620

Job Outlook

  • 2006-2016 Employment growth:  15%
  • Number of new jobs created 2006-2016: 239,000
  • Employment 2006 : 1,618,000
  • Employment 2016:  1,857,000
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