what is an administrative assistant?

As an admin assistant, you are the backbone of the office. You monitor everything that happens in the office and support workers and customers. While stationed at the reception, you ensure customers and clients make appointments by directing them to various offices. You also prepare meeting schedules and ensure everyone receives company memos and emails.

Administrative assistants are organised and efficient people that ensure the whole office functions properly. You don't just carry out routine administrative and clerical tasks; you also step in and solve problems that arise in the office. Your time management skills and attentiveness to detail are valuable in various business sectors and industries. That is why an admin assistant can work in hospitals, manufacturing firms or technology and industrial companies.

what does an administrative assistant do?

Some administrative assistants are assigned to a specific executive or top-level manager. Your role is to support and complete all routine clerical tasks for your employer. The duties include making travel arrangements, managing their schedule and appointments and conducting research related to their role.

While being an administrative assistant is an entry-level job, it provides a great learning experience. You juggle numerous tasks, from providing customer service to liaising with suppliers and major clients of the organisation. Admin assistants can also work remotely to support managers and office workers.

admin assistant jobs

average salary of an administrative assistant

As an administrative assistant, your median salary is $51,000 per year. When you are new in the role, your earnings start at $46,000 per year. Experienced administrative assistants receive over $76,700 annually. Aside from salaries, admin assistants receive overtime pay for working extra hours and enjoy various benefits associated with the role. Other non-monetary benefits include annual sick leave and paid holiday days.

what factors affect the salary of an administrative assistant?

When you are an admin assistant, your remuneration package depends on the business sector your work in and the company size. For instance, if you work in the legal sector, your earnings differ from those in marketing companies or hospitals. The company size also affects your remuneration since it determines the job complexity and resources available for paying salaries. Large companies, such as those in the mining industry, typically pay more than smaller ones.

female putting away files
female putting away files

types of administrative assistants

Some types of administrative assistants include:

  • executive administrative assistants: as an executive admin assistant, you provide high-level support to top executives in a company. You handle complex responsibilities like reviewing company revenue and preparing reports for the chief executive officer or managing director. Sometimes, you supervise clerical staff in the organisation.
  • legal administrative assistants: you prepare summons, motions and subpoenas under the supervision of a lawyer. You also review journals and assist in legal research, like verifying citations in legal briefs. To excel in your role, it is important to understand legal procedures and terminology.
  • medical administrative assistants: your role is to assist physicians and surgeons in preparing reports. You also transcribe dictations and find medical histories for patients. You should be familiar with medical codes, terminology and laboratory procedures.

working as an administrative assistant

Working as an admin assistant involves assisting managers by completing most office tasks, from clerical to correspondence duties.


education and skills

While no formal training is necessary for becoming an administrative assistant, you can find vocational courses to give you a head start. Some of the qualifications are:

  • tertiary qualifications: completing a diploma or certificate in business administration, digital technologies or business showcases your professionalism to employers. The recommended courses include a certificate in business administration or legal services. The training helps you qualify for higher-paying roles and progress in your career. However, you can still get a job with a . Aside from college courses, you can gain certifications by completing short courses in bookkeeping or technology.
  • work experience: to become a successful administrative assistant, you need work experience. While most employers provide on-the-job training, having prior experience in an administrative role improves your employment prospects.

skills and competencies

Some of the skills that an administration assistant needs include:

  • management skills: as an administrative assistant, prioritising your workload enables you to juggle multiple duties. Management skills help you complete tasks on time by organising your schedule and planning your time. Depending on your rank, your role may also include managing a team of administrative workers. Hence, management skills can help you delegate tasks and measure performance.
  • interpersonal skills: as an administrative assistant, you work with people face-to-face. Your interpersonal skills help you build good relationships and collaborate with others on various tasks. Good communication skills also enable you to meet clients' needs on behalf of your company.
  • computer skills: administrative assistants use computers at work and require computing skills to operate various software. For instance, they need computer skills to prepare reports, update company files in databases and make manager appointments for managers. Employers expect a certain level of computer competency to avoid the disruption of workflows.
  • organisation skills: as an administrative assistant, it is crucial to be highly organised to plan your tasks and ensure all activities in the office run smoothly. Being organised also helps you deal with tasks that crop up during the workday and meet deadlines.

FAQs about working as an administrative assistant

Here are the most asked questions about working as an administration assistant:

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