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STEP 3: Get the Education and Skills You Need

STEP 3: Get the Education and Skills You Need

Currin Berdine / AdminSecret

Congratulations! You’ve decided to enter an exciting and rewarding field. To get the most out of yourself and your job, employers and experts suggest you pursue the right degree.

First, without question, you need to have a high school diploma or the equivalent. This will ensure you have the basic grammar, reading, and typing skills to qualify for a legal secretary position. Furthermore, if you want to pursue more education towards becoming an administrative assistant, a high school diploma is a prerequisite. If you’ve already made it through high school, you should consider higher education. This is where the road forks.

You can either pursue a vocational or technical school, two or four year community college, or a four-year undergraduate program. With most admin programs, you can opt to take classes online or on campus.

Vocational/Technical School

The most basic way to further your education and hone your skills is with a few courses at a vocational or technical school. The training program will usually include:

Letter writing
Business communications
Introduction to Information Technology
Data entry
Transcription
Professional Standards
Office Management

The length of each program varies but usually ranges from two months to 12 months of class and hands-on training. With this type of program, you would earn an Administrative Assistant Diploma or certificate.

Go Further with Instruction from a Two-Year Community College Program

By taking another year to earn your degree, you’ll gain more knowledge and skills to apply to your work. This will make your job easier and your resume more impressive. In addition, you’ll be in higher demand by employers, open more potential for job growth, and earn more money.

Typically in a two-year program to become an administrative assistant, you pursue an Associate’s Degree in Administrative Assistant and Secretarial Science or an Associate’s Degree in Office Skills. Courses are similar to the ones at a technical school, but are more in-depth and include additional applicable classes. Examples include:

Principles of Business Law
Office Machines Operation
Public Relations
Secretarial Accounting
Report Preparation
Records Management

Stand Out with a Bachelor’s Degree

If you truly want to be a stellar applicant and earn more money, consider pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree. More than ever, employers are demanding undergraduate degrees from potential administrative assistants. Those with a specialized education are easier to train, produce better work, have spent more time working in teams, have fine-tuned their communication skills, and are more apt to be promoted and hired at a higher salary.

Bachelor’s of Administrative Assistant and Secretarial Science or Office Skills are two of the more popular paths to follow because, like the one- and two-year programs, they focus on office assistance. These programs, however, offer an array of classes that can be applied to a wider range of workplace duties. You can also pursue applicable degrees like Economics or Business Administration. Furthermore, you can specialize in specific areas such as information technology, human resources, finance, etc. Some of the coursework includes:

Presentation Skills
Professional Standards and Ethics
Policy and Regulation
Marketing
Billing
Project Management

By getting familiar with these important topics, you become a world-class administrative assistant. Your résumé will stand out and you will be comfortable with the responsibilities of the job. A degree will also serve as a platform to advance to other arenas like Office Manger, Human Resources, Marketing, or Finance.

Master’s and PhDs Prove Expertise in the Field

If you want to go all the way with your education, more power to you! There are a number of degrees and areas to study, each with a rich and unique course offering. The most common pursuits for top positions are:

Master in Office Management and Supervision
Master of Arts in Organizational Management
Masters of Business Administration (MBA)
Master of Business Administration in Accounting
Master of Business Administration in Global Management
Master of Business Administration in Technology Management

Administrative assistant is usually an entry-level type job. If you want to reach for a higher position in the workplace, then going for your graduate degree is a wise idea. You might still start off as an administrative assistant, but you’ll be able to go farther faster with such an advanced education.

Getting Certified

In addition to earning your degree, there’s a parallel path many admins take — certification. Certification is optional for administrative assistants, but many choose to pursue it for a better chance at employment or advancement. For more on the value of certification, read our article about certification benefits for admins. To qualify for a certificate, an Administrative Assistant with a bachelor’s degree needs two years administrative experience, an applicant with an associate degree needs three, and an applicant with no college degree needs four. Certification is available through the International Association of Administrative Professionals.




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