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Become A Secretary Or Administrative Assistant

Once separate, the job titles of secretary and administrative assistant have pretty much come to mean the same thing today. They both have similar roles to perform in their positions, including typing, answering phones, filing and attending meetings to take notes. In some cases, they may also be asked to oversee an office, or work with other departments as a coordinator on important projects. In a sense, they act as direct assistants to management, and are relied on to handle all the small details of day to day office management.

The actual duties for administrative assistants will often go beyond what is normally expected of a typical secretary, and will often involve more managerial tasks than clerical. They will often handle the logistics of actually running the office, working alongside an office manager, making sure that all the mundane tasks like mail and filing get done, for example.

They may also be called upon to handle the scheduling of office employees, acting as a resource person for both staff and customers, and coordinating the scheduling of special projects on behalf of department heads. They will be required to have technical knowledge for the running of an office, the compassion and empathy to relate to both staff and the public, and provide much needed support to managerial staff.

What Do They Do
An administrative assistant or secretary can have a variety of duties to complete on a daily basis, and in busy offices, no two days will ever be the same. They are the main clerical support for management, plus a host of other departments, sometimes working for more than one. They handle the lion’s share of the necessary clerical tasks like filing, typing, and mail, as well as any other duties assigned by their direct superior.

Administrative assistants can also be assigned to work for important individuals within a company, like highly placed executives, managers and department heads. Their duties will often shift with this position, to where they literally become their assistants, coordinating meetings, communications, hiring and training employees, and making business travel arrangements, just to name a few required tasks. In higher level positions such as these, they function in much the same way as office managers or assistant managers would, up to and including acting as liaison in all things between management and employees.

Career Progression
Administrative assistants and secretaries will often start out in a general support position within an office environment. From there, they may migrate to a specific department, perhaps acting as that department’s general secretary for a time, before moving on to becoming a department liaison, office manager or an executive assistant for upper management.

Administrative assistants will often specialize in one particular field, and build their career around that specialization. They will begin by becoming administrative assistants for a particular department, like IT, Human Resources or Sales. From there, they will advance to being office managers and executive administrative assistants, working directly under the department head. Two other specializations, found outside the corporate structure, are law and medicine. These positions will also require additional skill sets, like legal and medical terminology, dictation, transcription, and paralegal studies.

Education Required
Becoming an administrative assistant or secretary is not a profession that requires lengthy college studies, or even a degree. Most administrative assistants will have an Associates Degree in a particular field, like human resources, management, or just a certification in medical terminology, billing and coding or paralegal studies
Knowledge, Skills And Attitude

  • Must be good with details
  • Must multitask
  • Have good people and managerial skills
  • Must be able to work independently, without instruction
  • Must be able to make good business decisions, based on facts, needs and job criteria
  • Have good speaking, writing, reading and comprehension skills
  • Fluent in office technology