General Administrative Assistant: Duties, Requirements and Outlook

Public and private organizations, corporations and governmental agencies employ general administrative assistants. Administrative assistants provide support for these types of businesses and their staff members by performing office administration duties. They generally serve a 40-hour workweek, although some work in a temporary or part-time capacity.

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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

Requirements

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- to 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 12% increase in employment for general administrative assistants 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. The National Association of Legal Secretaries (NALS), Inc. offers multiple certifications, as do the International Virtual Assistants Association (IVAA) and 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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