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Administrative Support Career Guide

A career in administrative support is one that provides an exciting opportunities to have an incredibly rewarding career, in almost every industry, that directly involves helping others. The employment of administrative support professionals is expected to decrease over the coming years, with the exception of medical secretaries, due to technology advancements meaning employees are better able to manage their own documents. However, once employed within an office, administrative support professionals are considered the ‘backbone’ of business and are provided with all the necessary training to have a very long, successful and fulfilling career.

I like the variation of my role, one day I’m typing up meeting the notes the next I’m creating a company newsletter or something completely different. I like being the go to person who knows a bit about lots of different departments.

Nicky Christmas

Administrative Support Career Ratings

Income

Career
Growth

Personal Growth

Contribution

Influence

Job Profiles

Real-Life Administrative Support Job Profiles

Below is a list of links to anonymous job profiles of REAL PEOPLE who have filled out our survey and offered to share their insights with our users about their job in the Administrative Support field.
IDJob TitleGenderAgeEarningsCity & StateDate
33989Administrative ManagerFemale31 $48,000Sugar Hill, NY01/01/2010
33970Administrative AssistantMale24 $32,000Reno, NV01/01/2010
33941Administrative AssistantFemale27 $32,000salt lake city, UT01/01/2010
33953APA (Accredited Pension Administrator)Female42 $42,000Franklin, NJ01/01/2010
33924Administrative/CSRFemale31 $29,990Wright City, MO01/01/2010

Overview

What an administrative support professional actually does

Administrative support professionals, or administrative assistants and secretaries, are responsible for performing routine clerical and administrative office duties. This includes maintaining proper records through filing systems while adhering to confidentiality guidelines. Typical administrative support duties will vary slightly depending on the industry they work in and the size of the company they are hired by. However, most administrative support staff can expect to do the following on a daily basis:

  • Answering telephones and either taking messages or transferring the call to the correct employee
  • Being responsible for the mailing system (ensure outgoing mail is sent and incoming mail gets received by the correct person
  • Scheduling appointments and updating event calendars
  • Arranging staff meetings and sending out invitations
  • Preparing and editing memos, invoices and documents
  • Performing basic payroll and bookkeeping duties

Why they are needed

Every business sector needs an efficiency expert, such as administrative support professionals, to ensure that things run smoothly. Often considered the backbone of any business, administrative support professionals keep everything ‘ticking over’ to ensure that senior individuals can get on with their jobs and to keep busy office teams working efficiently. Without the work of administrative support, many individuals and teams would crumble under the additional pressure of having to manage their paperwork or correspondence.

Pros and cons of a career in administrative support

Pros:

  • It is a job that offers a lot of task variety and the opportunities to meet, and work with, lots of different types of people
  • With the constant changing of technology, there is always something new to learn and new skills to be developed
  • It is a incredibly rewarding career as you will be supporting whole offices, individuals or small teams and helping them to more effective and resourceful
  • Often, the administrative support working environment is friendly and non-competitive, which makes it a nice place to work
  • There are lots of career progression opportunities, often within the same company (e.g., can use the skills learnt on the job to progress from being an administrative assistants to the personal assistant for an executive)

Cons:

  • There can be a lack of respect and appreciation for those who work in administrative support
  • Some of the work that administrative support professionals do can be repetitive and boring. For example, filing is not the most exciting of tasks and it can take a long time!
  • There can be a high level of workload as often lots of different people will give you different tasks and this can be overwhelming
  • The hours can be long

Career success factors

To be a good at administrative support, it goes without saying that you must be naturally organized and excellent at time management. This will give you the talent to be able to manage the schedules of the office and sort out all administrative documents. Administrative support professionals should also show the ability to work well under pressure and to be deadline driven and professional.

Employability

Job market

According the the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the overall employment of secretaries and administrative assistants is projected to decline 7 percent from 2018 to 2028. This is because technology is advancing, meaning staff can now effortlessly prepare their own documents without the assistance of administrative support staff. It is also becoming increasingly common for one assistant to support multiple executives or teams, therefore meaning less administrative support professionals are needed.

However, employment of medical secretaries is projected to grow 16 percent from 2018 to 2028, which is much faster that the average for all occupations. This is because the aging population will require more medical services and therefore more medical secretaries will be needed to handle the administrative tasks related to billing and insurance processing.

Career paths

The path to a career in administrative support begins with a high school diploma, which gives you a good chance of getting entry-level positions. However, to have an even better chance of landing a job in administrative support, it is also incredibly beneficial to have prior experience using computer software applications.

After getting a job in administrative support, you will receive short-term on-the-job training that lasts for a few weeks. During this training, you will learn about specific administrative procedures. Normally, medical or legal secretary training is longer as these professionals will need to learn industry-specific terminology and practices.

Example Job Titles for Administrative Support

Below is a list of common job titles in the Administrative Support field. Click the links below for more information about these job titles, or view the next section for actual real-life job profiles.

Benefits & Conditions

Income and benefits

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for secretaries and administrative assistants in the United States was $39,850 in 2019. The lowest 10% earned less than $25,720 and the highest 10% earned more than $65,510.

The highest paid administrative support professionals were executive assistants, followed by legal secretaries. The highest paid industry for administrative support professionals in 2019 was professional, scientific and technical services.

Autonomy and Flexibility

Administrative support staff often work independently, meaning they are free to make their own decision. However, a lot of the work they do are tasks given by senior executives, which reduces the autonomy of the role. On top of this, administrative support staff have to work to meet constant deadlines (i.e., getting the mail sorted before the postman comes, sort meetings on time, sending invoices in a timely manner, answering the phones promptly), which means that there can be little flexibility in the work.

Locations and commute

As administrative support is required in every industry, there are opportunities available in most cities, meaning it is possible to find jobs with a short commute.

Work environment

The largest employer of administrative support professionals is the healthcare and social assistance settings. However, there is a requirement for administrative assistants and secretaries in nearly every industry, meaning they can work in all kinds of different places.

Administrative support professionals tend to work full time and they typically work in offices, often working in teams with other administrative support professionals.

Career Satisfaction

Common Matching Personality Types

Which personalities tend to succeed and thrive in Administrative Support careers? Based on our research, there is a relatively strong positive correlation between the following personality types and Administrative Support career satisfaction. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t many exceptions, of course, but if you fit into one of the following personality types then we suggest you give strong consideration to a career in Administrative Support.

16 Types (Myers-Briggs)

  • None

Big Five (OCEAN)

  • None

DiSC

  • None

Enneagram

  • None

Holland Codes (RIASEC)

  • None

Personality types

There is no scientific exploration as to what specific personality types make successful administrative support staff. However, it could be assumed that to be good at administrative support, you would need to be conscientious, in order to maintain a high standard or work and to meet deadlines. You would also need to be highly extraverted due to the high number of social interactions.

It is also thought that the Myers Briggs Type Indicator personality type of ENFJ are well suited to careers in administrative support because they are always ready to lend a helping hand and forward-thinking, driven and idealistic organizers.

Accomplishment and mastery

As administrative support staff work independently, there can be quite a high sense of accomplishment when they reach the end of a task. On top of this, there is also on the job training provided, which can lead to high levels of skill mastery in a relatively short space of time. However, as administrative staff are often not respected or appreciated, the levels of accomplishment or skill mastery can also be quite low at times.

Meaning and contribution

Administrative support professionals play a huge role in the efficient and smooth running of offices. Therefore, their work is considered highly meaningful and a necessary contribution to the workplace.

Life fit

As administrative support professionals work normal full time hours (8am to 5pm, Monday to Friday), it is a relatively easy career to fit into most people’s busy lives. However, sometimes administrative support staff may have to work overtime if there is an increase in workload or they may have to work weekends.

Who will thrive in this career?

You are likely thrive in an administrative support role if you are naturally organized and orderly, as the primary focus of the role is to ensure that the office runs smoothly. You are also likely to thrive if you enjoy social interaction as most administrative support roles involve greeting clients and interacting with other employees.

You are also likely to thrive if you have initiative and driven, as this will allow you to look for ways to create efficiencies and implement new plans to benefit not only you, but also the whole business.

Who will struggle in this career?

You may struggle in administrative support roles if you do not enjoy interacting with others or helping other people as the roles primary focus is to help people in more senior positions. You may also struggle if you cannot work well under pressure, as a lot of the tasks that administrative support professionals do are under strict time limits.

Requirements

Skills and talents

The typical skills and talents required for administrative support professionals include:

  • Organisation skills are essential for administrative support professionals as keeping on top of diaries, calendars and paperwork is the fundamentals of the role
  • Communication skills are essential as administrative staff absorb all the communication that executives haven’t got time to deal with. This means they must have excellent written communication skills to answer emails and letters, and good verbal skills to communicate clearly over the phone or in person
  • Technology skills are essential as administrative support staff need to utilize different software programs like word processors, spreadsheets, calendars, and emails and the ability to operation office equipment, such as fax machines and multi-line telephones
  • Decision making skills are key as administrative support staff will have to prioritize tasks and make decisions, meaning good judgement is essential
  • Interpersonal skills, as administrative support workers will have to interact with clients, customers and other employees and will need to leave lasting positive impressions and maintain a nice working environment

Education

Administrative support roles require little educational commitments, with most employers looking for only a high school diploma when hiring for entry-level positions. However, for a better chance or getting these roles, experience using computer software applications is desirable.

After getting a job in administrative support, you will normally receive short-term on-the-job training that lasts for a few weeks. During this training, you will learn about specific administrative procedures. Normally, medical or legal secretary training is longer as these professionals will need to learn industry-specific terminology and practices.

Certifications

Certification is not required to be an administrative support professional. However, some administrative support staff do get certified by The American Society of Administrative Professionals.

How to Become

Summary

Administrative support professionals are responsible for the smooth running of the office. They do this by distributing mail correctly, answering the phone and distributing the call or taking messages, arranging meetings, sending invoices and keeping files neat and orderly.

Immediate action

If you like the sound of this and are wanting to kickstart a fun and sociable career, then we would recommend finding some work experience in a role that improves your IT skills and your organisational skills. This would include data entry roles or general office clerk roles.

Education and learning

Administrative support roles require only a high school diploma. Once hired, administrative support staff will receive short-term on-the-job training. Medical or legal secretary training is longer as these professionals will need to learn industry-specific terminology and practices.

Skill development

To develop the skills needed, you can gain experience in other jobs that improve your IT skills. However, as there is training offered on the job, there are plenty of opportunities for skill development whilst work in administrative support roles.

FAQs

Ask a Question

Have a question about Administrative Support careers? If so, our mentors would love to help! Just click on a mentor’s profile below and then fill out the “Ask a Question” form on that page. Your question will then be emailed to the mentor, who can then email you a reply.

IDJob TitleGenderAgeEarningsCity & StateDate
33989Administrative ManagerFemale31 $48,000Sugar Hill, NY01/01/2010
33970Administrative AssistantMale24 $32,000Reno, NV01/01/2010
33941Administrative AssistantFemale27 $32,000salt lake city, UT01/01/2010
33953APA (Accredited Pension Administrator)Female42 $42,000Franklin, NJ01/01/2010
33924Administrative/CSRFemale31 $29,990Wright City, MO01/01/2010

Resources