Administrative assistants perform a variety of clerical and administrative duties to keep an organisation running smoothly. This typically includes directing calls, creating and maintaining filing systems, making appointments and organising calendars, typing up correspondence, arranging meetings, and creating spreadsheets and other reports. Admins may work exclusively for one executive but often manage the business affairs for several.
Duties and responsibilities
- Answer calls, direct callers to appropriate personnel or take messages
- Maintain and organise filing systems, in paper or digital form
- Create or transcribe recorded correspondence and documents, disseminate or store as instructed
- Arrange staff meetings
- Handle incoming and outgoing mail, email, faxes and other correspondence
- Review and edit documents
- Make appointments, organise calendar, keep administrators to their schedule
- Book travel and accommodation for executives
- Assist in event planning
- Do basic bookkeeping and generate spreadsheets and other financial reports
- Order office supplies and negotiate with vendors
- Operate and arrange repairs for office equipment, such as copiers and phone systems
- Conduct research and create related reports
- Oversee clerical staff and coordinate with other admins
Skills and knowledge
AVERAGE WORKING HOURS
Standard business hours
Most administrative assistants work full time in an office environment. Jobs span all industries, including business, government, schools and healthcare. To assist executives at meetings and events, some travel may be required.
Admins working as virtual assistants operate from a home office, completing all tasks and communication electronically.
Annual salary estimates are based on percentile wage data collected through the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey of US workers.
Formal education generally isn't required for entry-level administrative assistant positions. You can learn the necessary software and procedures through on-the-job training. Look to ommunity colleges, technical schools, placement agencies and online schools for coursework in word processing, accounting software and other related subjects that can make you a more desirable job candidate.
Previous clerical or secretarial job experience can also set you apart from the competition. Some employers, particularly for executive assistant positions, prefer candidates with a BA in business.
You may require additional months of training or coursework for administrative assistant jobs in specialty fields like law and medicine.
The field of administrative assistants has been steadily shrinking, due to a combination of recession-related budget cuts and technological advances that make it easier for executives to do tasks they once delegated to admins. Available jobs do provide a challenging, fast-paced environment, as administrative assistants often handle organisational tasks for 4 to 10 executives.
There is room for advancement within the field, as assistants can work their way up to positions with more responsibility and higher salaries. Job experience and a business degree opens the door to executive assistant roles, particularly in larger companies.
Experience as an admin and a BA in a relevant field can also lead to even higher-level positions such as human resources manager, corporate event planner or administrative services manager.