When joining the administrative field, a person gains entry into the ground floor of corporations and businesses. Once employed, an administrator is able to explore other opportunities within the company and is often given access to further training and formal education. With this achievement under their belt, they could either be promoted within the company or they could move on to another company more suitable to their aspirations.
Generally, the median salary for a typical administrative assistant in the U.S. is $35 – $40,000 annually but depending on the company, salaries can be in the approximate range of $25,000 – $42,000. Employees with salaries higher than this are Executive Administrative Assistants who have been in the field for many years and possess a high degree of experience, knowledge and familiarity with office procedure. The salary of an Executive Administrative Assistant is within an approximate range of $42 – $64,000 per year.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
As in all fields, compensation for an administrative assistant is affected by many factors. For instance:
- size of the employer: a large corporation is usually in a better position to accommodate competitive salaries and benefits than a smaller corporation or business;
- type of industry: an industry directly involved in specialized fields requiring specific knowledge and experience (i.e., technology, medicine, etc.) will offer higher salaries than an industry involved in a more general field (i.e., department stores, supermarkets, etc.);
- years and type of experience: an administrator with 20 years of working experience and a formal education in a specific field will command a higher salary than an employee with less years of experience in a general field; and
- geographic location of the employer: businesses located in the larger, more prominent cities pay higher salaries than businesses located in rural areas.
Job Description and Outlook
An administrative assistant offers support to a specific department or depending on the size of the business, the entire office. A good administrator is the glue that holds the office together and their basic duties include answering phones, scheduling appointments, setting up onsite and offsite meetings, preparing and completing expense reports, faxing and copying documents, and the purchase and maintenance of office supplies and equipment.
Unfortunately, the recent downturn in our economy has forced many companies to find ways to cut costs and expenses. Some of these cuts have resulted in the reduction of either their management or administrative staff. If a company decides to reduce its management staff, this could result in an increased administrative division. But if the company chooses to reduce the administrative staff by relying on their remaining staff to handle many of the traditional administrative duties, then there’ll be fewer jobs for administrators. Unless and until business leaders see this direction as having a severely negative impact on the business itself, the trend of hiring fewer administrators may be here to stay.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Education and Training Requirements
To begin in the administrative field, the requirements are a high school diploma or its equivalent and 0 – 2 years of actual working experience. However, since many companies are now assigning the more basic administrative duties to its other employees, and advances in technology continue to play an increasingly larger role in all businesses, administrators with higher levels of education and technical training will have the better chance of being hired. For instance, someone with an Associates Degree in Administrative Office Management, a Bachelors Degree in Business Administration, or a Certificate in Office Technology would be looked upon more favorably. Thus, if a person with minimal experience is fortunate to acquire an administrative position, they should immediately check into opportunities to upgrade their training and experience. Many companies offer training in standard computer applications such as MS Office and applications used exclusively by the company.
They may also give their employees access to elective classes which give instructions on increasing employee effectiveness when interacting with co-workers and customers. This type of training focuses on strengthening employee proficiency for the good of the company itself but a motivated employee with the desire to grow will take advantage of this training nonetheless. Additional knowledge helps to shape the employee in a positive way and can be useful down the road of a person’s career. Of course if the company is offering chances to obtain a formal education resulting in the achievement of an Associate or Bachelors degree, then deciding to take all relevant courses is a given!
One of the most well-known associations for administrative assistants is the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP). This worldwide organization offers opportunities for growth and professional training through education and events structured specifically for administrators. IAAP also provides certifications to administrators once their qualifications have been proven. Other organizations such as the International Virtual Assistants Associations (IVAA) and the Virtual Assistant for Administrative Support Consultants are support groups for virtual administrators. These organizations offer education and training for workers who choose to begin an administrative business from a remote location (usually their home), and they also work as a network connecting virtual workers with employers seeking virtual assistance and other virtual administrative assistants.