Administrative Support Specialists
|Recommended Degree Level||Certificate or Higher|
|Number of Jobs, 2012||803,040|
|Annual Job Growth Rate||2.4%|
|Job Openings per Year (est.)||32,180|
- In today's competitive work climate, most employers look for candidates who have completed at least an administrative assistant Associate in Arts (A.A.) degree program.
- Some employers will hire administrative support specialists who have no formal training in this field.
What you study:
While pursuing an administrative assistant A.A., you are likely to study all of the following:
- Intro to Business
- Business English
- Computer Applications
- Basic Accounting
- Intro to Human Resources
- Public Speaking
A brief introduction to the kind of work undertaken by administrative support specialists. Produced for the US Dept. of Labor.
A Day in the Life
You make a point of arriving at the office where you work before your boss every morning. This allows you time to catch up on basic tasks and prepare for your boss's arrival. Depending on where you work, you may be called an administrative support specialist, administrative assistant, administrative clerk or secretary. No matter your job title, you will handle a wide range of duties. You worked at a small business for several years, but you've recently moved to a big corporate office to take advantage of better advancement opportunities.
When you get to the office, you check your phone messages and emails. An unhappy customer left a message complaining about one of your company's products. You write down her name, phone number and complaint, and give them to the sales manager, who will respond to the call. You see that your boss has arrived, so you head to her office. She lets you know that you'll need to work on preparing presentation binders today in addition to your regular duties.
You head to the supply room to gather everything you need for the binders. It's important that you make them look as professional as possible because you know that your boss will be giving them to an important group of investors. While compiling the binders, you handle phone calls for your boss and check regularly for any urgent emails from other executives. It's your duty to screen your boss's calls and ensure that she isn't bothered during important meetings.
After your lunch break, you put the presentation binders in the conference room for the next day's meeting. You head to the mail room to pick up your department's mail and sort it. You'll screen anything that looks like junk mail for your boss but won't open any important correspondence or bills. You spend the rest of your afternoon answering phone calls and catching up on filing.
About an hour before you're set to leave, your boss asks you to proofread and correct two letters that she needs to send out. You carefully read over the letters and print them. You ask your boss to sign them and then take them to the mail room so that they can be sorted with the evening's outgoing mail. You clean up your cubicle and make sure that your boss doesn't need anything else before going home for the night.
Certifications and Licensing
No official certification is needed in order to become an administrative support specialist. However, many professionals in this field pursue Certified Administrative Professional, or CAP, certification through the International Association of Administrative Professionals, or IAAP. In addition to earning CAP certification, many administrative professionals take continuing education courses through community colleges or the IAAP.
Full-time versus part-time:
Administrative assistants may work either part-time or full-time schedules. The schedule that you work will depend on where you are employed and whether or not other administrative staff work in your department. In most cases, support specialists cannot work from home in telecommuter positions.
Administrative specialists who work for large government agencies and corporations generally enjoy decent advancement opportunities. You may be able to move into a position as a senior secretary or executive assistant. If you work for a small business, your advancement opportunities will be limited.
- U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook for Secretaries and Administrative Assistants: This website is a great starting point for individuals who are interested in learning more about the basics of administrative support careers. The handbook provides particularly useful salary and career outlook information.
- American Society of Administrative Professionals: ASAP's website offers a resource center, webinars and announcements about training opportunities. New administrative professionals will find a wealth of information about office administration, secretarial duties and human resources management on this site.
- International Association of Administrative Professionals: The IAAP's website provides valuable information about becoming a Certified Administrative Professional, or CAP. Job seekers can also take advantage of the careers area of the site to find new opportunities.