Office Specialist Certification and Training Program Information

Read about certificate and degree programs for the aspiring office specialist. Discover what students need to apply, and see some typical courses. Check the employment outlook statistics and certification options for these workers.

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Essential Information

Many office specialists learn their trade on the job. A specialist with a high school diploma might also earn either an Office Administrative Specialist Certificate or an Associate of Science in Office Administration degree. A number of certificate programs contain only core courses and have the sole goal of equipping students for entry-level employment upon completion. Topics such as word processing, administrative office management and business communication are emphasized. Associate's degree programs offer similar curricula with the addition of general education studies.


Office Administrative Specialist Certificate

An office specialist, also referred to as an administrative assistant or office assistant, maintains order, answers phones and handles files in a business or office environment. Preparatory office specialist certificate programs are offered through 2-year community colleges and vocational schools as well as through the extension departments of 4-year universities. They are designed to prepare students to work as professional office administrative specialists and provide them with an understanding of the tasks and duties of the role. Students enrolled in such a program learn how to take direction from supervisors, handle spreadsheets and databases, work with basic office filing systems, manage phone systems, greet clients and more.

Education Prerequisites

Most schools offering office administrative specialist certificate programs require students to hold a high school diploma, although some accept GED students as well. Incoming students should also have basic keyboarding skills, a familiarity with computer operating systems and a strong command of the English language.

Program Coursework

Most certificate programs for aspiring office specialists are vocational in nature and offer courses that strictly prepare students for the career of office administrator. Example courses include:

  • Word processing applications
  • Business communication
  • Administrative office management
  • Records management
  • Customer relations
  • Word processing
  • Business English

Associate of Science in Office Administration

Associate's degree programs in office administration are very similar to certificate programs in the field. They provide students with an introduction to office technology, business communication and basic management procedures, while at the same time providing students with the practical skills they will need on the job. Such programs also include courses related to general education, specifically in the fields of science, mathematics and humanities. Associate's degree programs in office administration provide a well-rounded education for aspiring office specialists and administrators.

Education Prerequisites

Schools offering associate's degree programs in office administration have similar educational prerequisites as schools offering certificate programs in the field. Students should have a high school education and a basic understanding of how to use computer systems. Schools with associate's degree programs often ask students to meet a minimum GPA requirement before they can start core courses.

Program Coursework

In addition to covering topics related to office administration tasks and duties, the courses found in associate's degree programs in office administration cover theories of management, business ethics and basic accounting. A collection of courses might include:

  • Business communication
  • Office procedures
  • Microsoft Office
  • Business ethics
  • Basic accounting
  • Bookkeeping
  • Desktop Publishing
  • Filing

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

Executive secretaries, administrative assistants, legal secretaries, medical secretaries, office specialists and similar professionals held upwards of four million jobs around the country in 2012, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported (www.bls.gov). The mean annual salary for administrative assistants who were not employed in the medical or legal field was $34,000 in May 2013. Executive administrative assistants earned a mean yearly wage of $51,870 the same year.

Certification Options

Office assistants and specialists are not required to gain certification. Professionals who are interested in working as office specialists in the legal field can opt to gain certification from the National Association of Legal Secretaries or Legal Secretaries International. General office specialists can earn certification from the International Association of Administrative Professionals or the International Virtual Assistants Association.

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