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Education Paths for Administrative Assistants

Education Paths for Administrative Assistants

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 an applicable education.

First, without question, you should earn your high school diploma or equivalent. This will ensure you know the basic grammar, reading, and typing skills to qualify for an administrative assistant position. Furthermore, if you want to pursue more education towards becoming an administrative assistant, having your high school diploma is a required prerequisite.

Following high school, you should highly consider higher or secondary 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 administrative assistant programs, you can opt to take classes on-line 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
-and more…

The length of each program varies but is in the range of 2 months to 12 months of class and hands-on training. With this type of program, you would earn a Administrative Assistant Diploma or certificate.

Getting Certified

Certification is optional for administrative assistants, but many choose to pursue it for a better chance at employment or advancement. Administrative Assistants with a bachelor’s degree needs two years administrative experience. An applicant with an associate degree needs three years administrative experience. And an applicant with no college degree needs four years administrative experience in order to get professional certification. Certification is available through the International Association of Administrative Professionals (http://www.iaap-hq.org/index.htm).

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

By taking another year to earn your degree, you will gain more knowledge and skills to apply to your work. This will make your job easier and your output more impressive. In addition, you will 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, one would pursue an Associate’s Degree in Administrative Assistant and Secretarial Science or an Associate’s Degree in Office Skills. Courses would be similar to the ones at a technical school, but would be 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
-and more…

Stand Out with a Bachelor’s Degree

If you truly want to be a stellar applicant, knowledgeable worker, and earn more money, then highly consider earning your 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.

Bachelor’s of Administrative Assistant and Secretarial Science or in Office Skills is one of the more popular paths to follow because like the one and two year programs, they focus on office assistance. Such programs, however, will offer an array of classes that can be applied to more areas of the workplace. 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
- and more…

By being familiar with these important topics, you will have the familiarity necessary to become a stand-out administrative assistant. Your résumé will be very impressive 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 unique and rich course offering. The most common pursuits for top positions in the business field 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

Being an administrative assistant is usually an entry-level type job in a law office or court facility. If you intend 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 your ability to go further faster will be greatly increased with such a notable education. One day admin, next day CEO!

For more education advice, see our other Education Articles.


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