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Become An Administrative Assistant

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Working As An Administrative Assistant

  • Interacting With Computers
  • Getting Information
  • Performing Administrative Activities
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
  • Mostly Sitting

  • Repetitive

  • $38,480

    Average Salary

What Does An Administrative Assistant Do

Secretaries and administrative assistants perform routine clerical and administrative duties. They organize files, prepare documents, schedule appointments, and support other staff.


Secretaries and administrative assistants typically do the following:

  • Answer telephones and take messages or transfer calls
  • Schedule appointments and update event calendars
  • Arrange staff meetings
  • Handle incoming and outgoing mail and faxes
  • Prepare memos, invoices, or other reports
  • Edit documents
  • Maintain databases and filing systems, whether electronic or paper
  • Perform basic bookkeeping

Secretaries and administrative assistants perform a variety of clerical and administrative duties that are necessary to run an organization efficiently. They use computer software to create spreadsheets; manage databases; and prepare presentations, reports, and documents. They also may negotiate with vendors, buy supplies, and manage stockrooms or corporate libraries. Secretaries and administrative assistants also use videoconferencing, fax, and other office equipment. Specific job duties vary by experience, job title, and specialty.

Executive secretaries and executive administrative assistants provide high-level administrative support for an office and for top executives of an organization. They often handle more complex responsibilities, such as reviewing incoming documents, conducting research, and preparing reports. Some also supervise clerical staff.

Legal secretaries perform work requiring knowledge of legal terminology and procedures. They prepare legal documents, such as summonses, complaints, motions, and subpoenas under the supervision of an attorney or a paralegal. They also review legal journals and help with legal research—for example, by verifying quotes and citations in legal briefs.

Medical secretaries transcribe dictation and prepare reports or articles for physicians or medical scientists. They also take simple medical histories of patients, arrange for patients to be hospitalized, or process insurance payments. Medical secretaries need to be familiar with medical terminology and codes, medical records, and hospital or laboratory procedures.

Secretaries and administrative assistants, except legal, medical, and executive is the largest subcategory of secretaries and administrative assistants. They handle an office’s administrative activities in almost every sector of the economy, including schools, government, and private corporations. For example, secretaries in schools are often responsible for handling most of the communications among parents, students, the community, teachers, and school administrators. They schedule appointments, receive visitors, and keep track of students’ records.

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How To Become An Administrative Assistant

High school graduates who have experience using computer software applications, such as word processing and spreadsheets, usually qualify for entry-level positions. Although most secretaries learn their job in several weeks, many legal and medical secretaries require additional training to learn industry-specific terminology. Executive secretaries usually need several years of related work experience.


High school graduates can take courses in word processing and office procedures at technical schools or community colleges. Some temporary placement agencies also provide training in word processing, spreadsheet, and database software.

Some medical and legal secretaries learn industry-specific terminology and practices by attending courses offered at community colleges or technical schools. For executive secretary positions, employers increasingly prefer to hire those who have taken some college courses or have a bachelor’s degree.


Secretaries and administrative assistants typically learn their skills through short-term on-the-job training, usually lasting a few weeks. During this time they learn about administrative procedures, including how to prepare documents. Medical and legal secretaries’ training may last several months as they learn industry-specific terminology and practices.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Executive secretaries can gain experience by working in administrative positions that have less challenging responsibilities. Many secretaries and administrative assistants advance to higher level administrative positions.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Although not required, certification can demonstrate competency to employers.

The International Association of Administrative Professionals offers the Certified Administrative Professional (CAP) certification. Candidates must have a minimum of 2 to 4 years of administrative work experience, depending on their level of education, and pass an examination.

Legal secretaries have several certification options. For example, those with 1 year of general office experience, or who have completed an approved training course, can acquire the Accredited Legal Professional (ALP) certification through a testing process administered by NALS (previously known as National Association of Legal Secretaries). NALS also offers the Professional Legal Secretary (PLS) certification, considered to be an advanced certification for legal support professionals.

The Certified Legal Secretary Specialist (CLSS) certification is conferred by Legal Secretaries International in areas such as intellectual property, criminal law, civil litigation, probate, and business law. Candidates typically need to have 5 years of legal experience and pass an examination to become certified.


Secretaries and administrative assistants generally advance to other administrative positions with more responsibilities, such as office supervisor, office manager, or executive secretary.

With additional training, many legal secretaries become paralegals or legal assistants.

Important Qualities

Integrity. Many secretaries and administrative assistants are trusted to handle sensitive information. For example, medical secretaries collect patient data that is required, by law, to be kept confidential in order to protect patient privacy.

Interpersonal skills. Secretaries and administrative assistants interact with clients, customers, or staff. They should communicate effectively and be courteous when interacting with others to create a positive work environment and client experience.

Organizational skills. Secretaries and administrative assistants keep files, folders, and schedules in proper order so an office can run efficiently.

Writing skills. Secretaries and administrative assistants write memos and emails when communicating with managers, employees, and customers. Therefore, they must have good grammar, ensure accuracy, and maintain a professional tone.

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Administrative Assistant jobs

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Administrative Assistant Career Paths

Administrative Assistant
Executive Assistant Office Manager
Account Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Manager Store Manager General Manager
Chief Executive Officer
8 Yearsyrs
Office Administrator Project Coordinator Operations Manager
Chief Operating Officer
11 Yearsyrs
Office Manager Human Resources Coordinator
Director Of Human Resources
10 Yearsyrs
Accounts Payable Clerk Specialist Account Manager
Director Of Sales
10 Yearsyrs
Assistant Manager General Manager
District Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Office Administrator Accounts Payable Clerk Accountant
Finance Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Office Manager Operations Manager
General Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Human Resources Coordinator Human Resources Generalist
Human Resources Business Partner
10 Yearsyrs
Billing Specialist Specialist Account Manager
Marketing Director
7 Yearsyrs
Manager General Manager Account Executive
Marketing Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Legal Assistant Legal Secretary
Office Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Assistant Manager Manager General Manager
Operations Director
9 Yearsyrs
Office Assistant Office Manager
Operations Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Human Resources Assistant Human Resources Coordinator Payroll Specialist
Payroll Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Medical Assistant Instructor General Manager
President/Chief Executive Officer
10 Yearsyrs
Legal Assistant Paralegal Office Manager
Property Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Human Resources Assistant Recruiter Operations Manager
Purchasing Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Accounts Payable Clerk Accountant Finance Manager
Sales Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Human Resources Coordinator Project Manager Program Manager
Senior Manager
10 Yearsyrs
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Administrative Assistant Demographics


  • Female

  • Male

  • Unknown



  • White

  • Hispanic or Latino

  • Asian

  • Unknown

  • Black or African American

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Languages Spoken

  • Spanish

  • French

  • German

  • Portuguese

  • Italian

  • Chinese

  • Mandarin

  • Russian

  • Arabic

  • Japanese

  • Cantonese

  • Korean

  • Hindi

  • Vietnamese

  • Tagalog

  • Polish

  • Urdu

  • Greek

  • Armenian

  • Hebrew

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Administrative Assistant

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Administrative Assistant Education

Administrative Assistant

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Real Administrative Assistant Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Assistant Administrator Johns Hopkins University Baltimore, MD Jun 01, 2015 $100,000
Assistant Administrator Miracle Home Health Care, Inc. Los Angeles, CA Nov 13, 2015 $89,482
Administrative Assistant Thomas S. Kaplan D/B/A Domestco LLC New York, NY Oct 28, 2015 $80,000
Administrative Assistant Kimtre Corp Fort Lee, NJ Dec 27, 2016 $79,061
Administrative Assistant Thomas S. Kaplan D/B/A Domestco LLC New York, NY Jul 06, 2016 $74,402
Assistant Administrator Kenwood Care Corporation Laurel, MD Sep 01, 2015 $74,005
Administrative Assistant Farhad Kazemzadeh Pacifica, CA Aug 25, 2015 $73,923
Administrative Assistant/Arabic Speaking Law Office of George J Shalhoub CA May 19, 2016 $68,557
Administrative Assistant Kamerycah, Inc. Torrance, CA May 17, 2016 $68,557
Administrative Assistant Westside Electric Wholesale Inc. Los Angeles, CA Mar 16, 2016 $67,142
Administrative Assistant (International Trade) Sewicob Inc. Lansdowne, PA Dec 29, 2015 $65,790
Assistant Administrator Health Dimensions Consulting, Inc. Minneapolis, MN Jul 23, 2016 $64,542
Administrative Assistant Fast Switch Ltd West Mansfield, OH Aug 12, 2016 $62,610
Administrative Assistant BLEU Profond, Inc. Torrance, CA Jan 09, 2015 $46,821
Administrative Assistant Melos Enterprises, Inc. Boca Raton, FL Apr 15, 2015 $46,259
Academy Administrative Assistant Love and Truth Christian Center, Inc. Bergenfield, NJ Nov 07, 2016 $46,218
Administrative Assistant Olympiad School Inc. New York, NY Apr 22, 2016 $46,218
Administrative Assistant Keystone Growth Corp. NY Aug 26, 2016 $46,218
Administrative Assistant GNS Trading Corp Englewood, NJ Aug 16, 2016 $46,218
Administrative Assistant Staffing Visionaries Inc. Paterson, NJ Jun 30, 2016 $46,218
Administrative Assistant Daniel J. Park, C.P.A., P.C. New York, NY Oct 06, 2016 $46,218
Administrative Assistant Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz New York, NY Aug 28, 2015 $40,000
Administrative Assistant Kevin Lee Co, Inc. Dallas, TX Aug 14, 2015 $40,000
Administrative Assistant The Church of The Open Bible New York, NY Sep 28, 2016 $39,936
Construction CO. Administrative Assistant Sagewood Construction & Design Corp. New York, NY Dec 30, 2015 $39,936
Administrative Assistant The Church of The Open Bible New York, NY Sep 19, 2016 $39,936
Construction CO. Administrative Assistant Sagewood Construction & Design Corp. New York, NY Nov 08, 2016 $39,936
Administrative Assistant West Wind Express Inc. Chicago, IL Oct 19, 2015 $39,874
Administrative Assistant Fresh Origins San Marcos, CA Jan 27, 2016 $39,653

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Top Skills for An Administrative Assistant


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Top Administrative Assistant Skills

  1. Payroll
  2. Data Entry
  3. Customer Service
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Managed payroll distribution for the company's employees in Arizona.
  • General administrative duties including heavy phone work, invoice reconciliation, filing, data entry, and maintaining databases.
  • Assist customer service with various tasks such as verifying insurance and completing intake forms.
  • Document database management - uploading documents for electronic approvals and document release.
  • Assist in the creation of personal and corporate financial statements.

Top Administrative Assistant Employers