Expanses in technology have led to an expansion in the role of office professionals. The job duties of secretaries and administrative assistants in particular have evolved dramatically as these professionals have assumed a much wider range of responsibilities than ever before. Organizations are increasingly depending upon administrative assistants to keep the office running smoothly.
In general, administrative assistants are responsible for both administrative and clerical duties and they often serve as office managers. Specific duties vary depending upon the industry and office, but typically include the planning and scheduling of appointments, correspondence- written and otherwise, file management, inventory management, document preparation, electronic recordkeeping, and most importantly, internal and external customer service. Administrative assistants may also assist with public relations and special projects.
The level of experience and job title also tends to dictate the duties performed. Executive secretaries and administrative assistants usually have more responsibilities than a general secretary would, handling complex tasks that may include organizational marketing, profit tracking, decision making, and supervisor duties. General secretaries, on the other hand, mainly perform clerical duties like answering phones and filing.
Certain secretaries, like legal or medical secretaries, specialize in a particular field. This type of work often requires more technical knowledge and training than the average administrative position due to the complexity of the positions. These secretaries perform duties that may include detailed research, professional correspondence, report writing, and other technical duties.
Technology and Training
A college degree may not be necessary to work in this field. High school graduates who possess basic office or computer skills often qualify for entry-level positions. Anyone looking to enter this field should be good at interacting with people, have basic typing skills, and be good at communicating, both verbally and non-verbally. The use of logic and good judgment, along with the ability to be discreet are also very important. Patience will be the successful administrative assistant’s best asset.
Administrative assistants who prove to be adaptable and versatile will be the most sought after. The knowledge of applications, spreadsheets, and database managements will become essential as technology continues to increase. Attending programs offered by business schools, vocational training facilities, and community colleges is recommended and will increase the chances of success for anyone looking to break into this field. Medical and legal secretaries in particular should definitely complete a specialized educational program if they wish to be competitive in their market. Anyone with a Bachelor degree or professional certification will have an edge over others.
Testing for administrative proficiency is available through a number of organizations, including the International Association of Administrative Professionals, N.A.L.S. Inc. Administrative assistants can also become certified and retain titles, such as Certified Professional Secretary (C.P.S.), Certified Administrative Professional (C.A.P.), Accredited Legal Secretary (A.L.S.), Professional Legal Secretary (P.L.S.), and Certified Legal Secretary Specialist (C.L.S.S.).
Today, there are more than 4.1 million administrative assistants and 8.9 million people in administrative support roles working in the U.S. alone. Though the administrative field is expected to grow, overall, it will grow more slowly than the average occupation during the next decade. The growth that does occur will vary depending upon the field or specialty. The legal and medical field will see an average growth rate, while other administrative fields may see a decline.
Salaries in this field vary dramatically and usually depend upon skill level, experience, level of responsibility, location, and industry. Executive secretaries and administrative assistants earn approximately $22,270 – $50,420. Legal secretaries earn approximately $21,990 – $54,810. Medical secretaries earn approximately $18,310 – $37,550.