What is a Professional Administrative Assistant?

B. Miller

The role of a professional administrative assistant is a vital one in the operation of many businesses. Though a professional administrative assistant tends to have similar duties to any administrative assistant, he or she typically has more years of experience and/or a college degree, and will often work with executives in the company and may also function as an office manager. The job responsibilities of administrative assistants are varied, but are frequently clerical in nature. Each administrative assistant will need the ability to work well with other people, have excellent organizational skills, and be proficient in typing and in working on a computer.

An administrative assistant may be responsible for scheduling.
An administrative assistant may be responsible for scheduling.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, a professional administrative assistant may work in an office either in an administrative or clerical capacity, ensuring that the business runs effectively and efficiently. Some of their duties may include managing communications between the business, its customers, and its employees, such as by mail, phone, or email; scheduling meetings; setting appointments; keeping careful filing records, or developing a filing system; assisting other employees with projects or research; and making travel arrangements. Most professional administrative assistants perform all of these duties and more.

Professional administrative assistants often are hired to perform data entry tasks.
Professional administrative assistants often are hired to perform data entry tasks.

Some additional responsibilities may include hiring and training new employees, assisting customers or clients who come in to the office, and maintaining the supplies of the office. This might mean taking inventory of supplies and ordering what is needed, as well as keeping careful bookkeeping records. A professional administrative assistant needs to be familiar with technological equipment in the office and able to perform minor repairs or to decide when to call someone to repair a piece of equipment.

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A professional administrative assistant may maintain book keeping records.
A professional administrative assistant may maintain book keeping records.

A professional administrative assistant needs the ability to work independently and make decisions. He or she will need to decide which pieces of information need to be forwarded on to the boss, as well as what can be dealt with independently. An administrative assistant functioning in an office manager role will need to make sure that office policies are being maintained, which may be in regards to issues such as dress code or requested time off. It is also important to be sure that the chain of command is being followed, if the office is a more formal environment.

Most professional administrative assistants need to know how to use copiers and other office equipment.
Most professional administrative assistants need to know how to use copiers and other office equipment.

Some professional administrative assistants train to work in specific fields, such as the legal or medical field. These areas generally require additional training to learn the specific terminology and methodology of the environment in which they will be working. Assistants in these fields are often paid higher wages than in standard office environments.

There are many certificate programs and individual classes available to train administrative assistants. These types of training and certifications can look excellent on a resume, and improve the chances of being hired. Many administrative assistants, however, simply learn their valuable skills on the job, and earn raises and promotions through years of reliable service.

Legal assistants are typically paid higher wages than standard corporate assistants.
Legal assistants are typically paid higher wages than standard corporate assistants.

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