become a secretary or aministrative assistant

What does a Administrative Assistant do?

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An administrative assistant manages and assists in clerical and administrative duties. This is key in helping a business or organization run efficiently. A typical day normally consist of answering phones, transferring calls, taking messages, maintaining filing systems and databases both electronically and on paper, greeting clients or visitors, scheduling appointments, and drafting routine memos.

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How to Become a Administrative Assistant

secretary and administrative assistant

If you have a high school diploma and basic computer skills, you have a good chance at an entry-level position as an administrative assistant. However, it is becoming more common to gain training, certifications, or earn associates degree in this occupational field. According to O*NET OnLine, almost 40% of those surveyed had at least an associate’s degree. Community colleges and technical schools offer classes in basic office and administrative skills and computer skills. Most employers give on-the-job training lasting several weeks.

Some administrative assistants perform more technical tasks such as those in legal and medical settings. These assistants would require several months of training and often attend community colleges or technical schools to learn industry-specific terminology. In addition, an executive secretary usually needs a bachelor’s degree or some college courses to be considered for employment.

Job Description of a Administrative Assistant

Secretaries and administrative assistants work in a variety of settings and have differing levels of responsibility pending their position and perform a variety of tasks throughout the day. This can very from company to company, however typical tasks include editing company correspondences, proof-reading documents for accuracy, basic bookkeeping, answering the phone, handling mail and faxes, using computer software or fax machines, or even operating video conferencing equipment. Some secretaries and administrative assistants also may negotiate with vendors, buy supplies, and manage stockrooms or libraries.

Their duties depend on the level of skill and place of employment. Some examples of specific settings include a medical secretary processing insurance claims or a legal secretary preparing legal documents such as motions or subpoenas. An executive secretary or administrative assistant provides high-level support for top executives of an business or organization. They handle more complex responsibilities such as reviewing incoming documents, conducting research, preparing reports, and sometimes even supervising other clerical staff.

Secretaries and administrative assistants usually work full time and most often work in an office setting. They can be found working in health care, social service, education, scientific or technical services, and state/government agencies. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics there is a slower than average growth in this occupational field, however medical secretaries will be in high demand and have better employment opportunities.

Administrative Assistant Career Video Transcript

Well-organized, resourceful, persistent, and detail oriented with a strong drive to make things work. Secretaries and administrative assistants need a combination of all these qualities. They handle administrative activities in most organizations, including schools, healthcare facilities, government offices, and private companies. Secretaries perform a wide variety of tasks. They prepare documents and spreadsheets, organize files, schedule appointments, and support other staff. They may also buy supplies, plan events, and manage stockrooms. Most answer phone calls and direct them appropriately.

In schools, they handle communications among parents, students, and school administration. Some duties are particular to a type of secretary: Executive secretaries work for top executives to handle complex responsibilities, including research and writing reports. Confidentiality and integrity are essential. They may also manage clerical staff.

Legal secretaries prepare legal documents and help with legal research under the supervision of an attorney or a paralegal. Medical secretaries transcribe dictation and prepare reports or articles for doctors or medical scientists. They may handle communications with patients and process insurance payments. Most secretaries and administrative assistants work full time in offices; some work for administrative service companies out of their own homes.

Jobs typically require a high school education and basic office, computer, and English grammar skills. Legal and medical secretaries need additional training to learn industry terminology. Most community colleges offer programs or courses to obtain these skills. Executive secretaries require several years’ related work experience.

Article Citations

  • Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Secretaries and Administrative Assistants.
  • National Center for O*NET Development. 43-6014.00. O*NET OnLine.
  • The career video is in the public domain from the U. S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.
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