Administrative assistant

An administrative assistant


Administrative assistants perform administrative and office support for supervisors. They perform various tasks, such as answering telephone calls, receiving and directing visitors, ordering office supplies, maintaining the office facilities running smoothly, and ensuring that equipment and appliances work correctly.

The duties of an administrative assistant typically include, but are not limited to:

  • Handling office tasks, such as filing, generating reports and presentations, setting up meetings, and reordering supplies.
  • Providing real-time scheduling support by booking appointments and preventing conflicts.
  • Making travel arrangements, such as booking flights and cars and making hotel and restaurant reservations.
  • Screening phone calls and routing callers to the appropriate party.
  • Using computers to generate reports, transcribe meeting minutes, create presentations, and conduct research.
  • Greet and assist visitors.
  • Maintain polite and professional communication via phone, e-mail, and mail.
  • Anticipate the needs of others to ensure their seamless and positive experience.

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to administrative assistant:

communications assistant
administrative office assistant
administrative office worker
clerical assistant
office clerk
office administrator
executive administrative assistant
general office clerk

Working conditions

Administrative assistants work in nearly every industry.

Most administrative assistants work in offices. Some of them work out of their own homes as virtual assistants.

Most administrative assistants work full-time.

Minimum qualifications

An administrative assistant’s minimum level of education is generally a high school diploma or equivalent. Temporary agencies may also provide training in these areas. For those straight out of high school, courses in word processing and general office procedures are offered at vocational schools and community colleges and can be very helpful. Administrative assistants with bachelor’s degrees are more marketable, as they are seen to have a more well-rounded education that includes writing and mathematics, which can be helpful in the job.

While prior experience is not strictly required for work as an administrative assistant, many employers value prior work in the field. This is because many office professionals learn their major skills through on-the-job training. A strong history of long-term work with other organizations can show reliability and responsibility. Starting as a secretary and working through the ranks also shows increasing skill development and dedication.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Administrative assistant is a Skill level 3 occupation.

Administrative assistant career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to administrative assistant.

executive assistant
management assistant
supply chain assistant
passport officer
legal administrative assistant

Long term prospects

These occupations require some skills and knowledge of administrative assistant. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of administrative assistant with a significant experience and/or extensive training.

marketing assistant
parliamentary assistant
defence administration officer
promotion assistant
civil service administrative officer

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of administrative assistant.

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of administrative assistant.

  • Maintain statutory books: Maintain updated the company’s statutory books with the relevant information of the directors and secretaries, the director’s interests, and the shareholders’ register.
  • Perform business research: Search and collect information relevant to the development of businesses in different fields ranging from legal, accounting, finance, up to commercial matters.
  • Disseminate internal communications: Disseminate internal communications using the different communication channels that a company has at its disposal.
  • File documents: Create a filing system. Write a document catalogue. Label documents etc.
  • Organise business documents: Put together documents coming from the photocopier, the mail, or the daily operations of businesses.
  • Keep task records: Organise and classify records of prepared reports and correspondence related to the performed work and progress records of tasks.
  • Disseminate general corporate information: Answer questions, resolve doubts, and solve inquiries in regard to general institutional and corporate information such as program rules, regulations and procedures. Assist with information to both, employees and public at large.
  • Use office systems: Make appropriate and timely use of office systems used in business facilities depending on the aim, whether for the collection of messages, client information storage, or agenda scheduling. It includes administration of systems such as customer relationship management, vendor management, storage, and voicemail systems.
  • Handle mail: Handle mail considering data protection issues, health and safety requirements, and different kinds of mail specifications.
  • Perform office routine activities: Program, prepare, and perform activities required to be performed every day in offices such as mailing, receiving supplies, updating managers and employees, and keeping operations running smoothly.
  • Disseminate messages to people: Receive, process, and pass messages to people coming from phone calls, faxes, postal, and emails.
  • Fill out forms: Fill out forms of a different nature with accurate information, legible calligraphy, and within a timely manner.
  • Ensure proper document management: Guarantee that the tracking and recording standards and rules for document management are followed, such as ensuring that changes are identified, that documents remain readable and that obsoleted documents are not used.
  • Organise facilities for office personnel: Manage the booking schedule for conferences and meetings of internal or external nature. Shop around and book reservations for travelling or hosting for office personnel.
  • Draft corporate emails: Prepare, compile, and write emails with adequate information and appropriate language to make internal or external communications.
  • Use Microsoft Office: Possess the ability to work with the standard programs contained in Microsoft Office at a capable level. Create a document and do basic formatting, insert page breaks, create headers or footers, and insert graphics, create automatically generated tables of contents and merge form letters from a database of addresses (usually in Excel). Create auto-calculating spreadsheets, create images, and sort and filter data tables.

Optional knowledge and skills

Optional knowledge

This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of administrative assistant. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Transcription methods: The methods to quickly transcribe spoken language into text, such as stenography.
  • Accounting techniques: The techniques of recording and summarising business and financial transactions and analysing, verifying, and reporting the results.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of administrative assistant. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Create import-export commercial documentation: Organise the completion of official documents such as letters of credit, shipping orders, and certificates of origin.
  • Respect data protection principles: Ensure that personal or institutional data access conforms to the legal and ethical framework governing such access.
  • Prepare presentation material: Prepare the documents, slide shows, posters and any other media needed for specific audiences.
  • Coordinate events: Lead events by managing budget, logistics, event support, security, emergency plans and follow-up.
  • Speak different languages: Master foreign languages to be able to communicate in one or more foreign languages.
  • Maintain inventory of office supplies: Keep inventory of office supplies such as equipment and stationery items to avoid out-of-stock or misuse of the supplies.
  • Organise travel arrangements for staff: Plan all arrangements for business travels including preparing schedules and booking transportation, dinners and accommodation.
  • Maintain internal communication systems: Maintain an effective internal communication system among employees and department managers.
  • Monitor staff absences: Keep an overview of the employees’ vacations, sick leaves and absences, register these in the agenda and file the necessary documents and certificates.
  • Process commissioned instructions: Process instructions, usually oral ones, provided by managers and directives on actions required to be made. Take note, inquire, and take action on the commissioned requests.
  • Handle petty cash: Handle petty cash for minor expenses and transactions required for the daily running of a business.
  • Manage personnel agenda: Schedule and confirm appointments for the office personnel, mostly managers and directive employees, with external parties.
  • Fix meetings: Fix and schedule professional appointments or meetings for clients or superiors.
  • Provide customer follow-up services: Register, follow up, solve and respond to customer requests, complaints and after-sales services.
  • Deliver correspondence: Distribute mail correspondence, newspapers, packages and private messages to customers.
  • Issue sales invoices: Prepare the invoice of goods sold or services provided, containing individual prices, the total charge, and the terms. Complete order processing for orders received via telephone, fax and internet and calculate the customer’s final bill.
  • Liaise with managers: Liaise with managers of other departments ensuring effective service and communication, i.e. sales, planning, purchasing, trading, distribution and technical.

ISCO group and title

3343 – Administrative and executive secretaries

  1. Administrative assistant – ESCO
  2. Secretaries and Administrative Assistants : Occupational Outlook Handbook – U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
  3. Administrative Assistant Job Description – Betterteam
  4. Administrative Assistant Job Description |
  5. Featured image: Photo by August de Richelieu from Pexels
Last updated on March 26, 2023

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