What is Administrative Assisting?

September 30, 2021 | bestvalue

Although administrative assistants don’t usually receive all the praise they deserve, they perform many administrative tasks other than just scheduling appointments. It’s safe to say that without an administrative assistant, many offices would cease to function optimally.

Administrative professionals, both serving low and senior positions, often require assistance. That’s where administrative assistants come in. As much as the term administrative assistant is primarily used to refer to a secretary, it can also refer to professionals such as office assistants, data entry clerks, office administrators, and executive assistants. Other notable professionals that serve in administrative assisting jobs include senior receptionists and senior executive assistants.

Just like any other profession, to be an administrative assistant, there are skills that you must possess. It’s also worth noting that you should have the knowledge and training to perform your administrative assistant duties efficiently. All in all, if you’d like to one day get a job as an admin assistant, you must be aware of the:

  1. Duties of an administrative assistant
  2. Benefits of being an administrative assistant
  3. Skills required for a successful administrative assistant
  4. Types of degrees that are useful for administrative assisting

In this article, we’ll discuss the topics mentioned above. Hopefully, this article will help you identify the different jobs you can land as an administrative assistant. We also hope that it can serve as a guide to help you know the different duties an administrative assistant is expected to perform. Ultimately, we hope it can assist you in achieving your dream of being a top-notch administrative assistant.

Responsibilities of an Administrative Assistant

Both administrative assistants and executive assistants tend to perform several duties. The duties they perform regularly vary according to the environment and department they’re based in. If you aim to be an administrative assistant, here are some of the typical duties you should expect to perform.

  • Receiving Incoming Calls
    One of the primary duties administrative assistants perform is receiving incoming office calls. Once they pick up, they determine the purpose of the call and, if need be, transfer it to the company employee who can assist the individual who’s calling. If the caller has a message they would like to relay, the admin assistant must take down the message and forward it to the individual concerned. As this is the case, it’s unsurprising that in all administrative assistant job descriptions, one of the listed requirements is that the applicant must be good at receiving and relaying messages.
  • Scheduling Meetings and Appointments
    Scheduling meetings and appointments are part of the duties secretaries and executive secretaries perform. Although this task sounds relatively straightforward, you may find it pretty difficult to execute if you lack good planning skills. As a secretary, you’ll likely come across many clients with differing needs who all need the services your employer offers. If you don’t schedule their appointments properly, they may find it challenging to get the help they need.
  • Receiving, Sorting, and Distributing Mail
    Most offices frequently receive and send a lot of mail. If not sorted out and distributed appropriately, mails can easily get lost. Suppose the company you work for gets a letter that needs an urgent reply. If you don’t forward the letter to the proper person in a reasonable amount of time, they may fail to act as rapidly as required. This simple mistake could lead to your company facing severe consequences. As an administrative assistant, you must be good at receiving, sorting, and distributing mail.
  • Taking Notes and Minutes in Meetings
    To land an administrative job, you must be good at taking notes and minutes in meetings. If you’d like to be a secretary, you must be attentive and good at jotting things down.
  • Processing and Directing Incoming Deliveries
    An office usually receives plenty of deliveries. If these deliveries aren’t well-distributed, the chances of them getting lost is very high. To avoid such a fate, companies usually delegate the responsibility of processing and directing incoming office deliveries to their administrative assistants. Thus, to be a successful executive administrative secretary, you must be good at handling deliveries. In most administrative assistant job descriptions, being excellent at handling deliveries is one of the essential requirements.

Apart from the duties listed above, some of the other administrative support secretaries provide include ordering and taking stock of incoming office supplies, making travel arrangements for executives, and drafting correspondence.

What Is the Work Environment Like for An Administrative Assistant?

More often than not, junior administrative assistants share their offices with fellow administrative professionals. However, as they gain seniority over the years, they usually get to have their own offices. Unlike most other company employees, administrative assistants don’t share computers and telephones. It’s also worth mentioning that they usually work in quiet and low-stress environments, unlike other company employees. As such, if you’re searching for a job that doesn’t have a stressful work environment, choosing to be an administrative assistant would be a wise move.

Who Requires an Administrative Assistant?

Administrative assistants are some of the most highly-employed professionals because they can work in all industries. As long as a company has an office with several employees, it must have an administrative assistant.

If you’ve just got your high school diploma and you’re wondering which degree program to pursue, selecting a program that can enable you to become an administrative assistant would be prudent.

Benefits of Being an Administrative Assistant

For years, the number of administrative assistants has continually been on the rise, which can be attributed to the fact that the administrative assistant position is a pretty rewarding one. By selecting this fantastic profession as your preferred career, you’re likely to enjoy a good number of benefits. Here are some of them:

  • Various Employment Opportunities
    Unemployment is an issue most Americans face. However, not many individuals who’ve pursued and completed their administrative assisting programs usually face this issue. Once one completes his/her administrative assisting program, he/she usually gets employed swiftly. As such, by choosing to pursue an executive assistant training program, you can rest assured of securing a job soon after finishing your training.
  • Respectable Salary
    Most people tend to think that most administrative assistant jobs are poorly paying. Unfortunately, some profit-hungry companies often pay their administrative assistants poorly, but most companies tend to pay their administrative assistants exceedingly well. If you land a job as an administrative assistant at a respectable company, you can expect to earn nothing less than $45,000.
  • Quick and Affordable Training
    Over the past couple of years, the cost of completing associate degrees in most universities and colleges has risen. It’s sad to note that even after completing these extremely expensive courses, a good number of graduates usually find it pretty challenging to secure a job. If you’d like to avoid such a fate, choosing an administrative assisting program would benefit you. Unlike most training programs, administrative training programs, even for specialized assistants such as medical secretaries, are usually quite affordable.
  • Medical Care
    Administrative assistants, just like other administrative professionals, are normally insured by their employers. As such, by choosing to work as an administrative assistant, you need not worry about incurring massive hospital bills. Instead, you can rest easy as you’re certain of receiving top-notch medical care without having to spend an arm and a leg.

Where Do Administrative Assistants Work?

There is a prominent misconception that administrative assistants only work in the front office. However, this is far from the truth. If you’re an administrator with good computer skills, you can work in the IT department. If you’re good at calculating pay, distributing checks, and maintaining payroll, you can work in the human resources department as an HR administrative assistant. If you’re exceptionally good at offering administrative support, you don’t have to commit to working at a single company. Instead, you can decide to form your own company and market yourself as a virtual assistant.

How Do You Know If You Would Be an Excellent Administrative Assistant? 

Many people wonder if they would make a good administrative assistant. Well, you can be a remarkable administrative assistant by being a competent professional and a good time manager. You can also be an outstanding administrative or medical or executive assistant if you’re excellent at communicating with others. If you possess the qualities mentioned above, you meet a good administrative assistant’s requirements as stated in most, if not all, administrative assistant job profiles.

Skills Required for A Successful Administrative Assistant

Similar to all other professions, for you to an exceptional administrative assistant, there are certain skills that you require to work effectively. Without these skills, you may not be as good an administrative assistant as you’d like to be. Listed below are the administrative assistant skills that will enable you to perform when hired as an administrative assistant excellently.

  • Communication Skills
    Being an administrative assistant means you’ll meet different people on numerous occasions. It’s common knowledge that different people require differing services, regardless of the type of company you work for. To be able to assist these different people, you must be able to communicate with them effectively. If you’re poor at communicating, you may not be able to get to know what precisely these people need. You may also find it challenging to relay the information you ought to forward to the concerned party as you should appropriately. As such, to be a reliable admin assistant, you must have top-notch communication skills.
  • Time Management Skills
    When you perform critical roles such as the ones performed by administrative assistants, you must be good at managing your time. If you lack the required time management skills, you’ll continuously not meet deadlines. In all industries, not beating deadlines is unacceptable. As an administrative assistant/executive secretary with good time management skills, you can effectively achieve your goals in a short period. The better your time management skills, the lower the stress levels you’ll face. Being punctual will enable you to achieve nothing short of excellence in your profession.
  • Planning Skills
    If you’d like to be a top-notch executive assistant, one of the key office administration skills you need to possess is the skill of strategic planning. Planning is one of the most important skills you need because, as an administrative assistant, you’re bound to perform various essential tasks. If you don’t plan on how to complete these tasks, you’ll not know which task is due at what time. Inevitably, you’ll find that you may perform the job you’re required to later than you were supposed to accomplish it. You may also find that you haven’t performed specific tasks as needed. Without planning skills, you’ll find yourself unemployed in a short period as employers never like having employees who can’t deliver in time.
  • Data Entry Skills
    In the past, data entry was for a select few administrative professionals. However, nowadays, if you intend to be a successful assistant, you must possess data entry skills. Data entry is not as easy as many think it is. Without immense training and adequate experience, you may not perform this simple task. When looking for assistants to hire, employers normally demand that those applying for the position have excellent data entry skills. As such, if you’d like to get engaged soon after completing your administrative assisting training program, you ought to have exceptional data entry skills.
  • Innovative Problem-Solving Skills
    Administrative assistants such as executive assistants and personal assistants usually meet many challenges that require their attention daily. The challenges, if not dealt with, may seriously hinder the smooth running operations of an office. To avoid the inconveniences these problems can bring on, it’s essential that as an administrative assistant, you can solve the problems rapidly. If you possess problem-solving skills, you’ll increase your value to your employer. It’s safe to state that the better your problem-solving skills are, the higher your chances of getting a better salary. Everyone likes getting paid better. To achieve this feat, you should hone your problem-solving skills.
  • Emotional Intelligence Skills
    Emotional intelligence refers to having a good understanding of emotions in ourselves and others. To be an excellent administrative assistant, you must be emotionally intelligent. When you’re emotionally intelligent, you’ll find it easy to work with fellow administrative professionals and settle conflicts. You’ll also be able to manage stressful situations more easily. As this is the case, to perform your administrative duties more diligently, you must improve your emotional intelligence skills.

What Are Basic Office Skills That Are Necessary for An Administrative Assistant?

Administrative assistants are, in the opinion of many professionals, the backbone of functionality in many offices. If your goal is to be an exceptional office admin assistant, it’s in your best interest to develop certain talents. Here are some of the said talents.

  • Organizational Skills
    One of the most fundamental skills an assistant in any organization requires is organizational skills. The primary work of an assistant is to ensure that the office operations run smoothly. As such, without proper organizational skills, you cannot prosper as an administrative assistant.
  • Multi-tasking Skills
    All the duties admin assistants perform are usually crucial. To land an administrative assistant job, you must be able to multi-task these tasks when called upon. If you’re good at multitasking, you’ll always come through for your boss. You’ll also ever come through for your fellow administrative professionals.
  • Adaptability
    In business, things can shift quite rapidly. To get the job done and assist your fellow employees, you need to be very adaptable. All in all, as an administrative assistant, you must be able to change what you’re working on at a moment’s notice. The quicker you’re at adapting, the better administrative assistant you become.
  • Attention to Detail
    When handling sensitive partner and client communications, administrative assistants need to be detail-oriented to catch general typos and grammatical errors. This skill is essential, mainly because it isn’t a good look for the company if it releases communication statements with mistakes. Additionally, being detail-oriented assists with tasks such as data entry and reporting. If you’ve got an eye for detail, you’ll find it relatively stress-free to perform such duties.

What Are the Strengths of An Administrative Assistant?

Many tend to think that the duties of administrative assistants are fairly straightforward. However, this is far from the truth. In reality, administrative assistants perform a variety of essential duties. Given that admin assistants perform a long list of vital roles, it comes as no surprise that they’re indispensable according to many professionals in varying industries.

If you’re contemplating settling on administrative assisting as your chosen career path, you must be a team player. Keeping an office running smoothly is a team effort, and having a team that works well together is key to keeping the business going. To be an outstanding administrative assistant, one of the other strengths you must have is prioritization. Different tasks vary in priority. As an administrative assistant, you must be able to prioritize them in order of importance. Lastly, as an admin assistant, you must be resilient and hardworking. If you’re resilient and hardworking, you’re bound to succeed in this profession.

In recent years, the number of those seeking administrative positions has witnessed a massive surge. To strengthen your administrative assistant resume, you should work towards possessing all the skills and strengths that have been mentioned above. You won’t regret this decision.

Types of Degrees That Are Useful for Administrative Assisting

If you’re interested in becoming an administrative assistant, you should be aware that there are plenty of associate degree programs that can equip you to achieve this dream of yours. Even though there are quite a good number of administrative positions that you can land with a good high school diploma if you’d like to widen your job opportunities, here are some of the associate degree programs that you should aim to pursue.

  • Administration and Office Management
    Administration and Office Management is one of the most popular courses in most colleges and universities, which can be attributed to the fact that this course teaches students essential and in-depth practical techniques that enable them to handle administrative tasks with ease. A program like this emphasizes the importance of providing exceptional internal and external customer service, and by choosing to pursue something like this, you can rest assured of gaining essential interaction skills.
  • Management Assistance
    In recent years, the growing interest in administrative assisting positions has led to Management Assistance is one of the most sought-after associate degree programs. Time and again, this course has been hailed as one of the best as it teaches its students how to be efficient administrative assistants. Given that it involves a lot of research and documentation, it’s safe to say that by pursuing this course, you can rest assured of developing the research and organizational skills that you require to be a good executive secretary.
  • Administration and Case Management
    In the past, administrative assisting positions were considered feminine. However, this narrative is considered archaic and retrogressive as more and more men are getting into this field. There has been an increase in the demand for courses to equip students, regardless of gender, with these skills. Administration and Case Management is one such course. Offered in almost all training schools, universities, and online and traditional colleges, this program primarily teaches students how to perform modern administrative tasks. It also teaches students how to handle personal information and how to care for company documents. If you’d like to be an assistant, this is one of the best programs you can choose to pursue.
  • Medical Office Assistant Training Program
    Medical assistants are specialized administrative professionals that are generally relied on by physicians and other medical staff to keep the office’s operations running smoothly. Hospitals are known to be pretty hectic places. Without a medical office assistant, many physicians, nurses, and other medical staff may find it challenging to work efficiently. To be a good medical office assistant, you need to have a good understanding of medical terminology. You also need to be good at scheduling appointments, processing patient information, and managing the office database. This program teaches all these. As such, if you’d like to be a top-rated medical administrative assistant, this is the right program for you.

What Can You Expect from An Administrative Assistant Program?

There are plenty of administrative assistant programs, though they vary somewhat in focus. Some lead to specialized careers, whereas others equip their students with the general skills they need to be excellent administrative assistants. However, both programs share certain similarities. These similarities include teaching students how to perform everyday administrative tasks, advancing their students’ data entry skills, and equipping learners with customer care skills. By choosing to pursue an administrative assistant program, you can expect to learn the skills and gain the knowledge you need to be an excellent admin assistant.

Given that employers worldwide tend to prefer hiring administrative assistants who possess the skills taught in administrative assistant programs, by completing one, you can expect to land an administrative assistant job in a matter of weeks, if not days.

How Much Is an Administrative Assistant Associate Degree?

Of all the associate degrees offered in colleges and universities, administrative assistant associate degrees are affordable. For as low as $9000, you can pursue and complete the administrative assistant associate degree-of-your choice. Given that you’ll earn an annual salary four times bigger than the number of tuition fees you’ll pay throughout your training, it’s quite clear that pursuing such degrees will ultimately pay off.

In Summary

Administrative assistants are crucial, and every company with an office knows how important a talented one is. Most businesses are looking for a talented person to keep things organized and work as a part of a team. If you’d like to be an administrative assistant, there are certain basic skills that you must ensure you possess. They include organizational skills, planning skills, multi-tasking skills, and creative problem-solving skills. Apart from these necessary skills, there are other skills that you need to hone to be an excellent executive secretary or receptionist. They include communication skills, resourcefulness, adaptability, and data entry skills.

If you’d like to hone your skills, there are several institutions where you can do so. Although all these institutions claim to offer fantastic administrative assisting programs, this is not always the case. To avoid enrolling at a school that offers low-quality programs, you must ensure that it has learned and experienced instructors before you settle on one. It’s also in your best interest to ensure that your higher learning institution-of-choice is known to produce magnificent administrative assistants. Other than the qualities mentioned above, you must also ensure that your school-of-choice doesn’t have any hidden costs. If you fail to do so, you may end up paying way more than you expected.

Choosing a school to enroll in is a pretty personal decision, so make sure you do your research and choose wisely. If you find the right program, you’ll be well on your way to starting your career as an administrative assistant and helping a business run efficiently and smoothly.

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