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Administrative Assistants and Secretaries

To the extent that the success of a business depends upon the success of its leaders, the success of the business depends most heavily upon administrative assistants and secretaries. While leaders may make the high level executive decisions that drive organizational strategy, it is administrative assistants who carry out the everyday tasks and responsibilities that actually keep the organization moving forward and growing.

What to Expect

The responsibilities taken on by administrative assistants and secretaries are numerous. They perform simple clerical tasks, but may also be required to take on a great deal of other responsibilities such as planning and scheduling meetings, managing appointments for leaders, coordinating communications across a variety of technologies such as e-mails and web sites, and even acting as project managers in some capacities.

Some high-level assistants may even assist executives in the decision making process. These assistants may, for example, filter incoming memos and reports in order to provide a distilled statement of their essence to executives, and in so doing, the work of administrative assistants will naturally shape the decisions made by executives and the course of the organization as a whole.

Education, Training, and Certification

Because the nature of an administrative assistant’s work is dependent upon the particular organization and executive they work for, it is possible for such professionals to learn many of the skills they need on the job itself. As such, some of the most successful secretarial professionals only have high school diplomas.
However, advanced programs are available for those individuals who wish to attain a greater degree of professional competency and increase their professional competitiveness on the job market.

It bears mentioning that those assistants who work in roles that require the use of high technology may be better served attaining a college degree, or at the very least undergoing additional training and classes on the operation and administration of such technologies.

Employment Options

Some assistants work in a specialized kind of role outside of the standard “business environment”, such as legal assistants who work with attorneys in managing cases and performing critical research tasks, to medical assistants who support physicians in handling case loads and carrying out the administrative (rather than clinical) side of their careers.

In contemporary times, some assistants even work online as “virtual assistants”. In that some businesses do the majority of their business over the internet, it is possible for these administrative assistants to carry out their responsibilities through e-mail, video conferencing, desktop publishing, and other forms of internet-based correspondence. Such a position naturally offers a great deal of flexibility, and many such virtual assistants even work as freelancers, offering their services by contract to a wide number of business executives.

Employment Outlook

As “business” itself grows, so too does the role of the administrative assistant. In the coming decade, the job market for administrative assistants and secretaries is expected to grow by 11%, making it an attractive competitive prospect for those individuals seeking a fast-paced and exciting job to prepare for.

Projected Salary

The variety of services required of administrative assistants grant them some leverage in securing higher than average salaries. The median figure for assistants was $40,030 with the highest figures earned by those who work in the context of major corporations and enterprises ($45,190). Secretaries earn comparatively less as the result of their lesser responsibilities, for an average of $29,050. The highest paid secretaries work in local government, earning an average of $32,610.

The editors of McGraw-Hill and the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, The Big Book of Jobs, Occupational Outlook Handbook 2012-2013  ©2009 by the McGraw-Hill Companies,  Material "Adapted"

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