Administrative Certificate and Certification Program Information

Learn about certificate programs for administrative assistants as well as the requirements for achieving professional certification. Get information on the curriculum and continuing education opportunities.

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Essential Information

An administrative assistant performs a variety of duties, such as conducting research, scheduling meetings and appointments, answering phone calls, and creating and organizing documents. Certificate programs allow administrative assistants to help hone these important areas.

Studying for an administrative assistant certificate teaches students to use office technology for everyday office functions. The program also includes instruction on proper office procedures and employee/customer relations. These programs are usually offered by community colleges, vocational/technical schools or professional organizations and consist of just a few courses that can be completed in about a year of study.

Administrative assistants often can improve their job prospects through certification from a professional organization, which requires membership and passing a competency examination.

Education Prerequisites

Students must submit high school transcripts, and all applicants must have either graduated from high school or earned a GED certificate. It is helpful to have good grades in math and an understanding of basic word processing and other computer programs.

Program Coursework

Courses in office procedures, English grammar, proofreading, and keyboarding for students who want to increase their speed and accuracy are followed by specific courses in:

  • Spreadsheet/database software
  • Accounting/business math
  • Business/machine transcription
  • Business communications
  • Organizational human relations

Advanced elective courses in PowerPoint and other business applications are also usually available to students.

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Graduating from an administrative assistant certificate program may lead to a job as a receptionist, secretary, file clerk, work processor, or other office positions. It could also lead to work as a personal administrative assistant for upper management personnel.

Continuing Education

Credits earned from this program can be used toward earning an associate's degree in other office or business administration. Professionals who hold an administrative assistant certificate may choose to further specialize in other areas, such as legal assistance.

Administrative Assistant or Business Office Technology Certificate

The administrative office technology certificate program prepares students to enter the workforce in an entry-level position. Usually, credits earned from this program can be used towards earning an associate's degree in administrative office technology or other business majors.

Education Prerequisites

Junior or community colleges usually require that prospective students have a high school or general education diploma, and applicants must submit all transcripts, as well as SAT or ACT scores. Many trade and technical schools also require incoming students to sit for a mandatory placement test.

Program Coursework

Students are taught a variety of basic office skills, including word processing, keyboarding, e-mailing, and creating reports and spreadsheets. Technological courses include:

  • Document processing and applications
  • Principles of accounting
  • Introduction to microcomputers
  • Microsoft Applications
  • PowerPoint Applications

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Earning your certificate could lead to entry-level positions as a receptionist, personal assistant, clerk typist, or secretary in business, medical, legal, or other fields.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), the overall employment of administrative assistants and secretaries is projected to grow by 12% from 2010-2020. More specifically, executive secretaries and administrative assistants will see growth of about 13% within their field, and the employment of secretaries (excluding medical and legal secretaries) will grow more slowly during the decade, by about 6%. The BLS reported the median salary earned by secretaries and administrative assistants in May 2012 as $32,410; those providing higher-level support for executive staff and teams earned a median salary of $47,500 in the same time frame.

Continuing Education

Earning a certificate may lead to further studies for an associate's or bachelor's degree in business administration. Earning advanced degrees may translate into promotion opportunities at one's current position or further opportunities at other businesses. Joining a professional organization, such as the International Association of Administrative Professionals (www.iaap-hq.org), would also be helpful for career advancement. A non-profit organization, the IAAP has over 22,000 members worldwide and offers a number of educational and certification options for qualified administrative professionals.

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