What does an Administrative Officer do?

Carol Francois

The primary job of any administrative officer is to manage the paperwork and personnel tasks needed to make sure that day-to-day business runs smoothly. These sorts of professionals are usually somewhat high-ranking and typically have leadership responsibilities in addition to their desk work. Most corporations and government entities employ these sorts of people to help make sure that internal operations and business functions are happening the way that they should. In nearly every context, the job involves four main functions: communication, coordination, daily administrative tasks, and long-term planning.

Most administrative officers work in large companies.
Most administrative officers work in large companies.

Role in Corporations

Many of the best-known administrative officers work in companies. In large businesses, there is often an entire division dedicated to administrative affairs, and the officer serves as its head. Smaller organizations typically hire this sort of professional to work alongside other leaders in a much more hands-on way. In either case, the job centers on management. The administrative officer is in charge of overseeing processes and personnel to make sure that the company is able to meet certain defined goals. This can involve everything from assigning projects to writing reports and analyzing output numbers. A lot of the work is “internal,” which means that is it based on paper reporting and filing.

An administrative officer oversees communication, coordination, daily administrative tasks, and long-term planning of a business.
An administrative officer oversees communication, coordination, daily administrative tasks, and long-term planning of a business.

Governmental Positions

Most governments also need administrative officers, though the world of these professionals tends to be somewhat different. Rather than help a company meet its own goals, this person’s job is to help convey to the public how elected or appointed leaders are doing. He or she may also work directly with those leaders to make sure that they are staying on track. The job is still very paper-centric and involves a lot of report-writing and number crunching. The main difference is the intended audience and the overarching goal.

Administrative officers keep businesses running smoothly on a daily basis.
Administrative officers keep businesses running smoothly on a daily basis.


Administrative officers in both companies and government offices usually have to focus a lot on communication. These professionals are usually connected to both senior management and front-line staff, and to a certain extent are in charge of bringing messages back and forth between these two groups. All communication typically must be clear, concise, and have a professional tone. The ability to determine what information to share and the best method in which to communicate is usually very important.

Administrative office managers often have to mediate conflicts.
Administrative office managers often have to mediate conflicts.

Coordinating Team Activities

Most administrative officers will also focus a lot of their attention on bringing different groups of people together, either to produce specific reports or to get certain information about how things are going. The types of activities and teams that must be coordinated depend on the industry, business function, and overall business practices. For example, in a services firm, officers may need to coordinate technician locations, job sites, and product deliveries. In a medical practice, the job may revolve around streamlining the information flow between patients, sales representatives, consultants, and the medical professionals who make up the core of the practice.

An administrative officer might have final say regarding new hires.
An administrative officer might have final say regarding new hires.

Daily Administrative Tasks

Nearly every organization also has a lot of smaller tasks that may seem mundane but have to be completed for business to run as usual. A lot of this is paperwork related, and most of it falls under the administrative officer’s main job description. This includes paying bills, issuing invoices to customers, processing payments received, and creating payroll for staff. Remittances to government and other agencies must also be sent out with the correct supporting documentation.

In small companies or agencies, the administrative officer is often in charge of these tasks him- or herself. Higher-powered executives don’t often do these sorts of tasks personally, preferring instead to delegate them to more junior staff — but they usually remain responsible for making sure that they are done properly and on time. When a company has a billing problem or falls behind on major payments, the administrative officer is often one of the first people blamed.

Planning Role

The administrative officer’s work usually puts him or her at the center of all business activities, which gives an interesting perspective into how a lot of different things run and operate. Businesses and governments may look for ways of leveraging this sort of “see all” approach when it comes to organization-wide planning. This can be as simple as setting out reasonable goals for an upcoming quarter or helping to strategize an approach for a campaign. An administrative officer may be charged with finding a larger space for the organization, planning the move, and designing the workspace, for instance, or may be tasked with figuring out what citizens need when it comes to something specific like tax relief, then looking for different solutions and possible fixes.

Getting the Job

There is no single list of what it takes to become an administrative officer, in part because of how many different opportunities there are. Requirements for leadership in a major corporation are really different from those in a small non-profit or local government office. Most candidates have completed a post-secondary training program in business administration or management, which demonstrates their savvy when it comes to internal operations and personnel coordination. Beyond basic education, however, a lot is left up to the individual company.

Many employers are more interested in related work experience than academic credentials. Experience resolving problems, managing conflict, and using computer systems is very important. The ability to handle pressure, work under time constraints, and deal with conflicting priorities can be very useful as well. In most cases, a careful review of a particular job description is the best way for candidates to figure out what a specific opportunity is actually going to require.

Avoiding Confusion with Office Administrators

The “administrative officer” job title can sometimes be easy to confuse with the similar-sounding “office administrator” and "administrative office assistant" jobs, though the two are usually quite different. An office administrator or office assistant is basically a secretary or support staff person who plays a very junior role in filing, answering phones, and other low-level administrative work. Officers are more often executives who have a lot of training and expertise and function more as leaders than supporters. Both sorts of jobs involve the management of different paper-based tasks, just on very different levels.

An administrative officer's job requires a lot of paper work and number crunching.
An administrative officer's job requires a lot of paper work and number crunching.

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Discussion Comments


I am an administrative officer for a dairy company, and I have not been given a job description. Please, I want to know my job description/schedule/duties as an administrative officer.


I don't know if I can administrate properly. I need full knowledge about it.


the educational qualification of administrative office assistant should not be less than Ordinary National Diploma (OND). What an administrative office assistant should earn as salary is NGN70,000 to NGN80,000 (Nigeria currency) while in dollar it is $400 to $ 450. --Chris


@ Fiorite- An administrative assistant can start with a high school diploma and computer proficiency. You can also seek out a one or two year program to gain a certificate in office administration or an associate’s in business.

If you are looking to become a law, medical or executive assistant, the educational requirements are higher. Executive assistants often need at least a bachelor's degree related to the industry the executive works in. Law and medical assistants need a specialized degree in medical assisting or paralegal.

According to the BLS, the median annual administrative officer salary is about $30,000. The higher end of the salary scale for administrative assistants is $45,000 plus per year.


What are the educational requirements to become an administrative office assistant? What can an administrative assistant expect to earn for a salary? I work in construction, and an injury has forced me to look at other career opportunities. Thanks!

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