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Become An Office Assistant

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Working As An Office Assistant

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

  • Repetitive

  • $28,295

    Average Salary

What Does An Office Assistant Do

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

Duties

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 Office 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.

Education

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.

Training

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.

Advancement

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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Average Length of Employment
Office Specialist 2.8 years
Office Associate 2.7 years
Office Secretary 2.5 years
Office Clerk 2.2 years
Office Assistance 2.1 years
Office Employee 2.0 years
Office Worker 2.0 years
Office Assistant 2.0 years
Office Helper 1.9 years
Top Careers Before Office Assistant
Cashier 11.9%
Internship 7.1%
Teller 4.1%
Volunteer 4.0%
Server 3.2%
Secretary 3.0%
Assistant 2.6%
Waitress 2.3%
Manager 2.1%
Hostess 2.1%
Teacher 1.6%
Top Careers After Office Assistant
Cashier 9.5%
Internship 6.9%
Server 3.8%
Teller 3.7%
Volunteer 3.5%
Assistant 2.5%
Manager 2.4%
Teacher 2.1%
Secretary 2.0%

Do you work as an Office Assistant?

Office Assistant Demographics

Gender

Female

81.1%

Male

16.6%

Unknown

2.3%
Ethnicity

White

59.6%

Hispanic or Latino

18.0%

Black or African American

11.1%

Asian

7.6%

Unknown

3.7%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

59.7%

French

9.1%

Mandarin

3.9%

Chinese

3.8%

German

2.9%

Italian

2.6%

Russian

2.3%

Portuguese

2.2%

Japanese

2.0%

Cantonese

1.9%

Arabic

1.8%

Korean

1.5%

Hindi

1.4%

Vietnamese

1.1%

Urdu

0.8%

Tagalog

0.8%

Greek

0.7%

Hmong

0.6%

Polish

0.6%

Hebrew

0.4%
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Office Assistant Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

20.4%

Liberty University

7.3%

Kaplan University

5.8%

Ashford University

5.5%

Southern New Hampshire University

4.9%

Northern Virginia Community College

4.7%

Florida State University

4.3%

Strayer University

4.2%

Grand Canyon University

4.1%

Houston Community College

3.7%

Miami Dade College

3.7%

University of Houston

3.6%

University of Alabama

3.6%

University of Central Florida

3.6%

Temple University

3.5%

Virginia Commonwealth University

3.5%

George Mason University

3.4%

Washington State University

3.4%

Arizona State University

3.3%

Florida International University

3.3%
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Majors

Business

24.8%

Psychology

8.9%

Health Care Administration

7.2%

Accounting

6.7%

Criminal Justice

5.7%

Nursing

5.1%

Communication

4.8%

Medical Assisting Services

4.4%

General Studies

3.7%

English

3.5%

Liberal Arts

3.1%

Biology

2.9%

Management

2.7%

Marketing

2.6%

Sociology

2.6%

Political Science

2.5%

Education

2.4%

Legal Support Services

2.2%

Human Resources Management

2.1%

Social Work

2.0%
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Degrees

Bachelors

39.8%

Other

29.5%

Associate

14.0%

Masters

8.0%

Certificate

5.6%

Diploma

1.8%

Doctorate

0.7%

License

0.6%
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Part Time
Internship
Temporary

Real Office Assistant Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Office Assistant Sea & Blue, Inc. Los Angeles, CA Feb 12, 2015 $49,358
Office Assistant Woodorkers Cabinet of Naples Inc. Naples, FL Sep 18, 2016 $48,210
Bookkeeping/Office Assistant T Account LLC CO Aug 22, 2014 $45,267
Paralegal/Office Assistant/Researcher Sheldon, Flood & Haywood PLC Fairfax, VA Jun 22, 2015 $43,890
Office Assistant Tar-B Precision MacHining Corp Bensenville, IL Feb 12, 2016 $43,472
Office Assistant Cubiculum Home Inc. New York, NY Aug 01, 2014 $41,740
Law Office Assistant Ho Jin Park, Esquire Fort Lee, NJ Dec 01, 2016 $39,000
Office Assistant Doctors Cardio-Vascular Imaging, P.C. New York, NY Mar 06, 2015 $38,522
Office Assistant Raw Engineering, Inc. San Francisco, CA Sep 11, 2016 $37,378
Office Assistant Stimpfel and Stimpfel Floral Park, NY Mar 03, 2009 $35,959
Office Assistant Caravan Serai Orlando, Inc. Orlando, FL Aug 30, 2016 $35,048
Office Assistant JXJ Technologies, Inc. Norcross, GA Dec 01, 2011 $33,392 -
$37,566
Office Assistant Congregation Beth Jacob Redwood City, CA Oct 03, 2011 $31,806
Office Assistant Guillermo A Roman Dds Inc. CA Jun 28, 2016 $31,700
Office Assistant Cubiculum Home Inc. New York, NY Aug 01, 2014 $31,305
Office Assistant K S Park Dc PC Annandale, VA Jul 28, 2015 $29,245
Office Assistant Woodorkers Cabinet of Naples Inc. and Temperament Counseling Inc. Naples, FL Aug 01, 2016 $29,218
Office Assistant Cristian Chirla Dds Inc. Akron, OH Apr 20, 2009 $29,009
Office Assistant Lankarama Buddhist Institute La Puente, CA Aug 17, 2010 $28,780
Office Assistant Union Dental Group Anaheim, Inc. Anaheim, CA Dec 30, 2016 $28,330
Clerical Assistant-Trainee Wendell W Wheeler Lake City, FL Oct 01, 2014 $26,088
Office Assistant Focus Construction, Inc. Los Angeles, CA Feb 24, 2016 $26,042
Office Assistant J One Trading, Inc. Los Angeles, CA May 01, 2015 $26,042
Bookkeeper/Office Assistant Kyle Gibson Rock-N-Landscapes Kennewick, WA Jan 01, 2013 $25,837 -
$37,044

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Top Skills for An Office Assistant

  1. Phone Calls
  2. Office Supplies
  3. Data Entry
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Answered phone calls and relayed messages Delivered office material to different work stations Updated community center records
  • Front Desk Reception *In charge of client expenses/bookkeeping *Received, logged and distributed legal correspondence *Responsible for inventory and office supplies
  • Filed Client profiles Completed Data entry for current and prospective clients Calculated personal and job related expenses for budgeting
  • Completed sales orders Data entry Customer service Monitored contracts Prepared sales reports
  • Maintained office services by organizing office operations and procedures, preparing payroll, controlling correspondences, and designing filing systems.

What is it like to work as an Office Assistant

5.0

What was your job title?

Office Assistant.. Show More

What do you like the most about working as Office Assistant?

Interacting with the public very friendly helpful in problem solving also I have patience with others.. Show More

What do you NOT like?

Rude customers who use profanity.. Show More

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Top 10 Best States for Office Assistants

  1. Massachusetts
  2. District of Columbia
  3. Connecticut
  4. Alaska
  5. Florida
  6. Nevada
  7. Rhode Island
  8. New Jersey
  9. Washington
  10. New York
  • (1,453 jobs)
  • (347 jobs)
  • (495 jobs)
  • (153 jobs)
  • (2,074 jobs)
  • (294 jobs)
  • (109 jobs)
  • (1,165 jobs)
  • (918 jobs)
  • (2,586 jobs)

Top Office Assistant Employers

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