What an Administrative Assistant Does

If you’re highly organized, great with people, and have a way with the written word, then you would make a very fine administrative assistant. You could work in the corporate world, for a lawyer, in the medical industry, or anywhere someone is needed to (wo)man the front office.

Unsure about what an administrative assistant does? Here’s a short list:

  • (Wo)man the phones.
  • Keep a calendar.
  • Schedule appointments and meetings.
  • Stay on top of incoming and outgoing mail, both snail and electronic.
  • Prepare and edit documents, memos, and other forms of written communications.
  • Keep whatever type of filing system that’s used, up to date and organized.
  • Know how to do light bookkeeping.

You’re the mastermind behind keeping the office you’re employed with running smoothly. Your actual duties will vary by office and type of industry you’re in.

How to Become an Administrative Assistant

Becoming an administrative assistant doesn’t require years of school or training. If you took computer courses in high school, you already come equipped with much of the basics needed for an administrative assistant.

  • Graduate high school or get your GED.
  • Consider attending a community college or trade school. However, to get an entry-level position, schooling is not a requirement.
  • Many administrative assistants get their training directly on the job.
  • It can take a few weeks to a few months to learn the ropes.
  • Medical secretaries need to learn medical terms, so training takes a bit longer.
  • Executive secretary will need a few years of previous administrative employment prior to being eligible to work on this higher level.
  • Some college background may be required by some employers to gain entry as an executive secretary.

Salary and Job Outlook

Working as an administrative assistant, you can expect your median annual salary to run around the $38K range. Just starting out in this field, you’ll earn in the ballpark of $24K. But, put in a few years, and your salary could go up as high as $62K on average.

The highest-paying administrative position is executive secretary. Your median annual salary will be $57K. Medical secretaries are among the lowest paid, with that salary averaging $35K at mid-career.

It’s not an opportune time to get into the executive administrative assistant field; a major employment decline of 17 percent or -119K jobs is expected. Much of the work that was once upon a time being done by an assistant is now delegated among a bunch of employees. And managers are taking over tasks like their own correspondences and calendars.

Legal secretaries are seeing a massive decline in employment, as well. This is due to automation mixed with paralegals and legal assistants being able to take over the tasks.

Don’t despair though; medical secretaries are seeing a significant increase in employment opportunities through 2026, with 129K new positions opening. Medical facilities are busy taking care of the aging baby boomers, and medical secretaries are needed to keep the organizations running smoothly.