Administrative Assistant Training
A strong training program for administrative assistants teaches students the essential skills and technology awareness necessary to function in an office environment. Administrative assistants work across many business fields, non-profit organizations and government agencies among others. A comprehensive program is important to equip future administrative assistants to play a key role in managing the operation of an organization by coordinating activities, schedules, managing information and interacting professionally with other employees and clients.
Training programs for administrative assistants are available in distinct forms. For example, some high schools may provide vocational training programs to students teach the fundamental skills necessary to obtain entry level administrative assistant positions upon graduation. Outside of high schools, vocational training centers and community colleges offer the opportunity to enroll in certificate and associate degree programs.
The time to complete these programs also varies and often depends on meeting certain requirements or completing a particular number of credit hours. High school administrative assistant programs are completed within the years students take to graduate. Vocational programs may offer certification within one year while associate degree programs for administrative assistants may take two years to finish depending on whether students complete the required credit hours. During the training period, students may also benefit from internships or other on-the-job training opportunities with employers in the community.
Either type of program covers the fundamental skills to function in the work place. For example, administrative assistants must learn to use computers and software applications like databases, email, spreadsheets and word processing. In addition, administrative assistants are exposed to the use of common office equipment such as fax machines, printers, copiers and multifunction telephones. Upon employment, administrative assistants also learn the procedures and techniques the employer uses in the work place.
Administrative assistants have the option to pursue a career in a specialized field or work towards senior positions. For example, administrative assistants may enter fields such as law, medicine or financial services. These industries require familiarity with concepts, knowledge and may use technology that is not used in other industries. In addition, specialization provides administrative assistants the option to follow opportunities for professional growth, advancement and possibly higher salaries. Administrative assistants with more seniority may also pursue opportunities as executive administrative assistants. Executive administrative assistants work with higher ranking managers or executives of an organization. Performance and professionalism expectations are higher for administrative assistants promoted to executive assistant positions. Given the higher demands, it is very common for executive administrative assistants to have a college degree or years of experience.
Key professional organizations provide important certifications and designations for administrative assistant professionals. For example, the International Association of Administrative Professionals grants the Certified Administrative Professional designation for professionals who meet certain experience benchmarks and must pass a proficiency exam. Administrative assistants who work in the legal field have the option to work towards becoming certified legal support professionals through the National Association of Legal Secretaries, which grants the Professional Legal Secretary and the Certified Legal Secretary Specialist designations.
The salary range for administrative assistants generally averages about $40,030 across all industries. Most earned between between $32,410 and $50,280. However, average salaries vary by industry. For example, administrative assistants in business organizations have higher average salaries estimated at $45,190 annually. Those working in state government and employment agencies had the lowest average salaries ranging between $33,820 and $35,540 per year. Another variation in salary is attributed to seniority. On average, the lowest earning administrative assistants are typically new to the field or in junior positions. New administrative assistants may expect initial salaries to average about $25,580 or less. However, the highest earning and more senior administrative professionals have average annual earnings of $62,290 or more.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
The jobs outlook for administrative professionals is projected to be favorable. Jobs growth in this field is expected to grow generally by an average 11% between 2008 and 2018. However, there are variations depending on industry. Growth in job opportunities is expected to be higher in the medical and legal fields, for example. New opportunities for employment is also expected within industries projected to grow in the coming years. Industries likely to grow include construction, education, health care and social services, which may account for a large share of new jobs created in the administrative services field. Although the increasing use of technology is automating some of the functions administrative assistants perform, organizations still need to hire administrative assistants to manage and organize changing work flows and systems. Most importantly, organizations still require administrative assistants to carry out the interpersonal details of helping to manage an office.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/