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General Administrative Assistant: Duties, Requirements and Outlook

General administrative assistants require little formal education. Learn about the education, job duties and requirements to see if this is the right career for you.

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Essential Information

Administrative assistants provide support for all types of organizations and businesses and their staff members. Their duties can include general clerical tasks, such as drafting documents and answering telephones, as well as administrative jobs, including scheduling and project management. They generally serve a 40-hour workweek, although some work in a temporary or part-time capacity. There are no specific education requirements, but a 1- or 2-year administrative assistant program at a vocational school or community college provides solid training to begin this career.

Required EducationNo specific requirements, but many administrative assistants complete 1- or 2-year programs
Projected Job Growth (2012-2022)13% (for secretaries and administrative assistants, except legal, medical and executive secretaries)
Median Salary (2013)* $32,840 (for secretaries and administrative assistants, except legal, medical and executive secretaries)

Source: * U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Duties of General Administrative Assistants

General administrative assistants are responsible for managing projects, opening and distributing mail, organizing files and conducting general research. They may also be in charge of ordering office supplies and communicating with vendors. Other tasks include the following:

  • Drafting documents and correspondence
  • Preparing reports
  • Proofreading
  • Scheduling
  • Providing telephone support
  • Transcribing


General administrative assistants must possess excellent typing skills, strong oral and written skills and the ability to communicate well with others. They must be able to work independently or on a team with other administrative professionals.

Knowledge of computers, databases, software and word processing programs is necessary. Assistants must also be able to operate general office equipment, such as a copy machine, fax machine, multi-line telephone system and scanner.

Though no formal college degree is required, completing a 1- or 2-year administrative assistant program provides the skills necessary to enter this career. Business schools, community colleges, technical schools and universities offer courses, certificates and associate degrees in this area.

Job Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted a 13% increase in employment for secretaries and administrative assistants, except legal, medical and executive secretaries, between 2012 and 2022. New jobs were expected to be created as those currently holding positions transfer to new ones or retire (www.bls.gov).

Some administrative assistants choose to become self-employed, offering freelance virtual services. They communicate with their clients via e-mail, fax, telephone and the Internet. They perform many of the same duties as on-site administrative assistants, but from their home offices, using their own office equipment.

General administrative assistants may advance their careers by obtaining specialized certifications through various organizations, such as the International Virtual Assistants Association (IVAA) or the International Association of Administrative Professionals. Others advance through in-house promotion to positions such as executive assistant, senior secretary or office manager.

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