Office Administrator Training & Careers FAQ
Deciding on a career path is a big deal. It requires a lot of consideration and introspection. You will likely want to learn as much as you can about an occupation in order to ensure that you'll be a fit for it. A first question might be, "What is an office administrator?" And you probably want to know other things as well, like what the average pay is and how big the potential is for job opportunities. So if you are considering a career in office administration, then keep on reading in order to discover some of the most common questions and answers related to training for, and working in, this field.
1. What Is Office Administration?
The term office administration describes the tasks performed by an office administrator. Office administrators handle the day-to-day activities within offices in order to help them operate as efficiently as possible. Business office administration professionals can be responsible for completing these activities themselves, or they may be responsible for assigning and managing them. Office jobs often include tasks related to bookkeeping, finance, human resources, administration, supply management, logistics, employee supervision, and other essential business functions. Your specific responsibilities might vary greatly depending on which industry you work within as well as whether the organization is a small business, large corporation, government agency, or non-profit organization.
2. What Responsibilities Might I Have as an Office Specialist?
As mentioned above, your responsibilities as an administrative office assistant or specialist could vary between different industries and organizations. For example, an office administrator within a financial institution would likely be responsible for substantially different tasks than an office administrator within a spa resort. That being said, here are some of the responsibilities that you may find in an office specialist job description:
- Providing exceptional customer service to the public and internal employees
- Answering phone calls and responding to email inquiries
- Managing schedules and booking appointments for more senior managers
- Assisting with hiring and training new employees
- Assigning and directing the work of other office employees
- Managing office inventory and ordering supplies
- Maintaining office equipment
- Offering administrative support to other departments and managers as requested
- Planning and organizing staff and company events
- Updating databases and records
- Recording financial transactions and preparing reports
- Posting updated and new content to websites and social media accounts
- Developing office policies and procedures
- Managing and administering employee benefits and insurance programs
- Handling and resolving customer complaints and internal staff issues
- Ensuring that office areas are kept clean and tidy
- Assisting with payroll processes, such as submitting employees' hours and used vacation days
- Tracking company credit card receipts
- Making travel and accommodation arrangements for staff and management as needed
- Taking meeting minutes
- Managing incoming and outgoing mail
3. What Is the Work Environment Like for Administrative Office Professionals?
Typically, office administration professionals work in clean, well-lit environments. Many office settings are also relatively quiet. However, some offices—such as a sales office that is accessible to the public—have quite a bit of activity with lots of people coming and going. And other offices, like those of a manufacturing company, have some industrial noises and smells. So if the type of work environment is important to you, then you will want to consider which industries and organizations can best meet your desires.
Other working conditions that you encounter might be just as varied. Most office administrators work full-time hours and may even get to work overtime. The demands of the job and deadlines that you face depend on a number of factors, such as whether you are supervising other employees and whether you are assisting one manager or several managers. Additionally, some office assistants are able to enjoy flexibility in their scheduling as well as the opportunity to complete some of their work from home.
4. Do I Need an Office Administration Degree to Enter the Field?
As you can see so far, the office administration field is quite diverse. And that holds true for the amount of education that's required as well. In most cases, a degree is not going to be required. However, the level of education that you pursue will likely depend on the type of position that you want to achieve.
For example, entry-level receptionist positions often require nothing more than a high school education—as long as you possess basic computer and customer service skills. Mid-level positions, such as administrative assistant or office administrator, typically require a certificate, diploma, or associate's degree. And higher-level positions, such as office manager or executive assistant, may require a degree along with several years of work experience.
It is worth noting that there are office administration positions that require very specific training. These jobs are typically found within the legal and medical sectors. If you wanted to work within a medical office, then it is likely that you will need to have completed a medical office administration program. And legal office positions typically require completion of legal administration or legal assistant training. So it is important to consider your desired career path prior to determining your education requirements.
5. What Kinds of Office Administrator Jobs Might Be Available?
As an office professional, you may be able to go after a number of exciting opportunities. That's because more than 488,000 office administration jobs could become available across the country from 2014 to 2024.* They will probably include positions such as the following:
- Receptionist—Work at the entry level while carrying out administrative responsibilities like greeting visitors, answering phones, preparing documents, and scheduling appointments.
- Office clerk—Assume a role that involves completing tasks such as preparing and updating documents, performing data entry, processing accounts payable, and answering phones.
- Customer service representative—Position yourself as a key customer contact and respond to customer inquiries, take orders, update customer accounts, manage returns, and record transactions.
- Administrative assistant—Take responsibility for office administrator duties like scheduling appointments, arranging meetings, creating and editing reports and other office documents, performing bookkeeping activities, and maintaining databases and records.
- Executive assistant—Provide a high level of administrative support by handling activities such as training and supervising staff, conducting research and preparing reports, coordinating meetings, and managing an upper manager's schedule.
- Administrative services manager/office manager—Take on a role in which you plan, direct, and manage the workflow and activities within an office, which could include setting goals and deadlines, supervising employees, developing policies, managing records, and preparing budgets.
Office administrator jobs can be found within almost any industry or organization. However, listed below are the sectors and organizations that offer the highest employment rates of office professionals, as of 2015:*
- Colleges, universities, and professional schools
- Companies that offer business support services
- Elementary and secondary schools
- Employment services agencies
- Insurance offices
- Local government agencies
- Organizations that manage other companies and enterprises
- Professional, scientific, and technical service providers
- Real estate offices
- State government agencies
6. What Is the Typical Office Administrator Salary?
You can probably guess that, when it comes to office administration, salary expectations are just as wide-ranging as other aspects of the field. The average office specialist salary depends on factors like the level of the position, the type of industry and organization, and your education and experience level. To get an idea of the wages that you might come across, take a look at five of the more common office administration careers below. You can see the average hourly pay, as well as the top-end pay, earned by administrative professionals in 2015.**
- Administrative services managers/office managers—$45.60 / $73.83 and higher
- Executive secretaries and executive administrative assistants—$26.66 / $38.22 and higher
- Secretaries and administrative assistants—$16.92 / $24.77 and higher
- Customer service representatives—$16.62 / $25.49 and higher
- Office clerks—$15.33 / $23.34 and higher
- Receptionists and information clerks—$13.67 / $18.92 and higher
7. Will I Find Opportunities for Career Advancement?
Since there are so many levels of jobs within the field of office administration, career advancement is quite common. For example, if you begin your career as a receptionist, then you may have the opportunity to advance into a position as an administrative assistant, then become an executive assistant, and eventually become an office manager. Once you have hit the management level, other careers that you may consider include hospitality manager, human resources manager, marketing manager, project manager, or one of the many other kinds of specialty business managers.
8. What Skills Should I Highlight When Writing an Office Administrator Resume?
Every position will have different requirements. So, when writing your resume, you will want to tailor it specifically to each job you apply for. And you'll want to be sure that you are being honest and only highlighting the skills that you truly possess. With that in mind, listed below are the most common abilities, skills, and traits required for office administration jobs.
- Able to provide excellent customer service
- Pays attention to details
- Proficient with modern office technology
- Able to communicate effectively
- Possesses writing skills
- Manages time effectively
- Capable of solving problems
- Understands general office procedures and business principles
- Able to work independently and as part of a team
- Organized and efficient
- Friendly and outgoing
Turn Your Dreams of a Great Career Into Reality
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* Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, website last visited on May 2, 2016.
** Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, website last visited on May 2, 2016.