What does an administrative assistant do?

As an administrative assistant, your main job is to support an executive or administrative professional. This helps them focus on their managerial responsibilities. You'll do a variety of clerical work and organizational tasks. There's a lot of variety at this job, but your exact tasks will vary depending on your employer’s industry.

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What is the average salary of an administrative assistant?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average salary for an administrative assistant is $41,000 per year. Depending on your experience, location, and size of the organization, administrative assistants can earn as much as $67,000. The typical admin assistant receives an annual salary. Some employers offer jobs with hourly rates.

What you can do to increase your salary options

Admin assistant roles offer a lot of room to grow and increase your pay. Typically, the highest-paying opportunities are for admin assistants who work with executives at big companies. Positions in the legal, medical, and engineering fields tend to garner bigger salaries. If you want one of these higher-paying jobs, here are some ways to make yourself more attractive to hiring managers:

  • Have a bachelor's degree in a field like communications.
  • Obtain a certificate from a reputable secretarial school or career certification program.
  • Have a background in the legal field, medical field, or whatever specialized field in which you want to work.
  • Take courses for accounting, data entry, typing, and other skills.
Administrative Assistant
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What industries hire administrative assistants?

Administrative assistants are needed in almost every industry that requires regular office work. You’ll find opportunities in the public and private sector, and with large and small companies. Some of the most common industries for administrative assistants are:

  • Hospitals and health care 
  • Colleges, universities, and other schools
  • Local government
  • Religious organizations
  • E-commerce
  • Staffing & Employment 
  • Banking and finance
  • Law firms and legal services

 

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Working as an administrative assistant

Do you love the idea of being an essential part of a company? An administrative job puts you in control of essential operations like managing communications and scheduling. It's a great opportunity for organized, capable people who enjoy problem-solving and working with others. 

What are the responsibilities of an administrative assistant?

To support your manager and the administrative team, you’ll most likely have the following responsibilities:

  • Managing correspondence: As a major point of contact, you’ll respond to calls and emails, as well as take messages for your manager.
  • Bookkeeping: This includes filing receipts, preparing invoices, or taking notes in meetings.
  • Organizing documents: Depending on the company, this could include managing physical files or electronic data entry.
  • Managing schedules: Admin assistants are often in charge of managing their colleagues’ calendars to handle important meetings, project deadlines, and appointments. 
  • Managing travel arrangements: If your manager travels for work, expect to book reservations for flights, hotels, and restaurants.
  • Interfacing with clients, customers, and visitors: This includes answering calls, attending meetings, and greeting visitors in a polite and professional manner.
  • Writing and editing: Many administrative assistants write and review documents like emails, instructional pamphlets, and social media posts.
  • Assist other staff members: While your main duty might be to support one manager, this could require assisting or assigning duties to a team of other workers. 

What is the work environment of an administrative assistant?

The majority of administrative assistants work in a classic office setting. Occasionally, some jobs let you work from home or might require some travel. However, you generally spend your time at a desk or walking around the office. This career is often a great choice if you love stability and enjoy exercising your attention to detail. Keep in mind that some employers are less conventional and offer an ever-changing job environment. Such companies are perfect if you like excitement. For example, some positions will require you to travel to job sites or visit other companies alongside the executive you support.

Do administrative assistants work from home?

Many companies offer part-time and full-time work-from-home opportunities for administrative assistants, making this an ideal job if you don’t like going into an office every day. Sometimes called virtual assistants, these roles often involve traditional admin tasks (correspondence, scheduling, etc.) but operate from remote workstations. If you’re comfortable conducting video conferences and online communication from home, being a virtual admin assistant might be right for you.

What is the work schedule of an administrative assistant?

If you work a traditional administrative assistant job, you'll have a regular full-time office schedule. This usually involves working around 40 hours a week. Administrative assistants often come into work around 8 a.m. or 9 a.m. and leave around 5 p.m. or 6 p.m. There is some variation, though, because different managers need different types of support. You'll also come across administrative assistant jobs that are part-time or offer opportunities to earn time-and-a-half overtime pay. Some jobs will need you on-site whenever your executive is there. In these positions, expect to work some nights or weekends.

Who are your colleagues as an administrative assistant?

As an administrative assistant, your most important colleague will be the executive or administrative professional you’re hired to support. Expect to interact with this executive on a daily basis, either directly or by phone and messaging. Depending on your industry and duties, your other colleagues will include:

  • Upper management staff who work with the executive
  • Team members who work under the executive
  • A department supervisor if you’re part of a team of assistants
  • Clerical staff such as receptionists and mailroom managers
  • Accounting staff when dealing with invoices and bills
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What is the career outlook for an administrative assistant?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that there will be about 324,000 new openings for administrative assistants each year. This means you'll have plenty of opportunities to work at different companies or apply for higher-paying jobs. For many people, being an administrative assistant is a long-term career goal. However, there are also a lot of opportunities to move on to higher-paying or more challenging roles in the future. Working as an admin assistant offers you a valuable opportunity to see how a company runs. You can learn about a field you're interested in before going on to apply for another type of position at the business. You also have the option of working your way up to higher-tier support staff jobs like that of an office manager.

What are the advantages of working with Spherion as an administrative assistant?

As one of the leading staffing companies, Spherion has connections with a wide range of businesses. The Spherion team offers plenty of networking opportunities, so you can find the right office for your work style. Whether you prefer to work with a small family business or a major company, Spherion has options for you. Other advantages include:

  • Getting paid on a weekly basis
  • Training opportunities for gaining more admin assistant skills
  • Flexible scheduling options
  • A personal contact to assist you with your job search
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What education and skills do you need as an administrative assistant?

One of the advantages of being an admin assistant is that you don't need many qualifications or much experience to start. Instead, you typically just need to show that you're a competent, smart person who can work in a professional setting and make reasonable decisions. You’ll use the following skills as an administrative assistant:

  • Problem-solving abilities
  • Good judgment and discretion
  • Professional demeanor 
  • Writing and editing administrative documents
  • Team leadership
  • Verbal and written communication
  • Analyzing information 
  • Accuracy and attention to detail
  • Knowledge of office equipment
  • Reporting and dictation 
  • Multilingual (in some roles)

Educational requirements for an administrative assistant

This field usually does not require you to get any specific certifications or college degrees. However, most employers will require administrative assistants to have at least a high school diploma or pass the General Educational Development test.

Past experience

Though not always necessary, employers often prefer candidates with past experience in their industry or the administrative field. If you have experience as a secretary or customer service representative, hiring managers will consider this a plus. Having at least three years of experience is especially a good idea if you want to work for a high-powered executive.

Time management and organization

If you like to work independently, this job is right for you. Admin assistants usually have a loose collection of tasks they need to accomplish. It will be up to you to set priorities, figure out how to get everything done on time, and schedule your boss' day appropriately. This requires you to manage time wisely and multitask well. Because you’ll be juggling multiple tasks at once, it’s important to follow and develop your own organizational strategies.

Computer and software competencies

If you like to learn new programs and software tools, you’ll catch on to your admin assistant duties quickly. While different companies use different programs, the following are the most common in offices:

  • Microsoft Office Suite
  • Microsoft Outlook and other email platforms
  • Google Workstation
  • QuickBooks and other accounting software
  • Video conferencing programs such as Zoom and Google Meet
  • Slack and other team communication apps
  • Dropbox and other file-sharing programs

 

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FAQs

If you are detail-oriented and enjoy using your multitasking skills, consider being an administrative assistant. Learn the answers to the most frequently-asked questions about becoming an administrative assistant.

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