Administrative Assistant Education Requirements

Administrative assistant positions require some formal education. Learn about the education, job duties and skills required to see if this is the right career for you.

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Essential Information

Administrative assistants, or secretaries, perform clerical tasks and oversee the daily operations of offices. They are often employed by schools, companies, government agencies, legal firms and healthcare facilities. The education requirements for becoming an administrative assistant vary according to the type of position; however, a high school diploma is typically required for entry-level positions.

Required Education Varies; high school diploma at minimum for entry-level positions; postsecondary programs are available
Projected Job Growth (2012 - 2022)* 12% for administrative assistants and secretaries
Median Salary (2013)* $32,840 for administrative assistants and secretaries

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Administrative Assistant Educational Requirements

Administrative assistants may obtain entry-level employment in the occupation with high school diplomas; however, many have some office administration training from either high school or postsecondary vocational programs. Virtual assistants, who work remotely, may complete virtual secretarial training programs at community colleges or technical schools. Upper-level positions in the field require more advanced training. Medical and legal secretaries typically complete specialized postsecondary programs, and executive administrative assistants often need undergraduate degrees.

Basic Vocational Training

Office administration training programs are available at community colleges and vocational schools. These programs may lead to diplomas, certificates or associate's degrees. Certificate programs in office administration, for example, typically take one year to complete and prepare students for entry-level employment in the occupation. Courses may include word processing, keyboarding and office applications.

Specialized Vocational Training

Many community colleges and technical schools offer legal and medical secretary training programs that result in diplomas. These programs typically take one year to complete and provide technical instruction applicable to the professions. Medical secretary coursework blends office management and healthcare fundamentals, including courses in business math, healthcare terminology and medical transcription. Legal secretary programs focus on law office management, such as courses in criminal procedures, legal office applications, technical writing and legal transcription.

Undergraduate Degree

Aspiring executive administrative assistants may benefit from earning an associate's or bachelor's degree in the industry in which they wish to work. Some colleges offer bachelor's degree programs in business administration, which are 4-year programs that prepare students for secretarial careers with corporations and businesses. Courses may include:

  • Accounting
  • Marketing
  • Statistics
  • Business strategy
  • Corporate finance
  • Organizational behavior
  • Business writing
  • Business law

Administrative Assistant Career and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimated a 12% job growth for administrative assistants and secretaries in the years 2012-2022. This growth is considered to be an average employment rate. In May 2013, the BLS also reported that secretaries and administrative assistants earned $32,840 as a median annual wage.

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