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Administrative Assistant

(aka: Secretary, Executive Assistant, Admin Professional)

Administrative assistants are the unsung heroes of every corporate setting, screening callers, keeping schedules organized, and ensuring the office runs smoothly. Attention to detail, courtesy, and professionalism are key traits to possess if you're interested in joining the over 4,000,000(!) administrative assistants that keep workplaces around the country humming.

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What do Administrative Assistants do?

  • Schedule appointments, and keep calendars up to date. Office 9-to-5 often revolves around the Schedule, whether it's a fancy Outlook calendar, or an old-school notepad with chicken-scratch (hopefully something closer to the former.) Keeping calendars up-to-date is an essential component of maximizing office productivity.
  • Answer telephones, and direct calls and emails. You're the first line of defense in keeping out unwanted callers, and ensuring that high-priority calls and emails get flagged and forwarded.
  • Draft or proof-read correspondence. Getting a second set of eyes on a document is always a prudent idea, and administrative assistants are often asked to give correspondence a once-over before it's sent out.
  • Miscellaneous administrative duties. "Picking up the boss' dry-cleaning" is the go-to reference for menial secretarial duties, but depending on the work environment, administrative assistants may be asked to complete personal tasks or errands.

How much do Administrative Assistants make?

"Administrative Assistant" or "Secretary" is a broad category that encompasses many different roles, with salaries differing accordingly. Overall, the median annual salary for the job category is $35,300, but that figure rises to as high as $48,000 for those acting as Executive Secretaries/Admin Assistants (a more senior administrative role, which typically involves being assigned to a single senior individual at a company.)

How do I become an Administrative Assistant?

Education Requirements. At a minimum, Administrative Assistants are expected to have a high school education, and basic computing and interpersonal skills, though more advanced qualifications will open substantially more doors. Secretaries working in speciality fields such as medicine or law will be expected to have a working knowledge of the industry, including basic vocabulary and an understanding of applicable policies or procedures. Though no formal licensing is required, certain organizations, such as the Internaitonal Association of Administrative Professionals, offer certification that will serve as an indication to future employers of a minimum level of proficiency. Most skills, however, are acquired via experience learned on-the-job.

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