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Associates Degree in Office Administration: Program Overviews

While a college degree is not always necessary to become an office administrator, an associate's degree will certainly open up a wide range of career opportunities. Graduates of an associate's degree program in office administration often pursue careers as office managers, executive assistants and medical or legal secretaries.

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Associate in Applied Science in Office Administration

Other than certificate programs, an associate's degree is the most commonly earned degree that leads to a career in office administration. Students of this two-year degree program learn important skills, such as basic accounting, computer applications, communication skills, document preparation and office procedures and ethics. Coursework and real-world opportunities will focus heavily on computer training and other office technologies, including the commonly used software applications QuickBooks, Microsoft Office and desktop publishing software.

Students seeking employment in a medical or legal office may also choose electives that target skills that are unique to these areas. In preparation for a career as an executive assistant or office manager, students may learn the basics of appointment scheduling, making travel arrangements, proofreading and managing records. It is important that students pursuing a career in office administration are able to keep pace in a busy office environment and adapt to constantly changing technology.

Education Prerequisites

Associate's programs in office administration will require a high school diploma or GED. Some may also require a minimum GPA, SAT or ACT score. Applicants who do not meet requirements may still be accepted on other merits or may be asked to complete placement testing. Students who have completed certificate programs in related areas may find that certificate courses will transfer to the associate's degree program.

Program Coursework

  • Computer applications
  • Business ethics
  • Managing records
  • Accounting
  • Business and technical writing
  • Word processing
  • Business fundamentals
  • Modern office procedures
  • Proofreading and editing
  • Introduction to desktop publishing

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary in May 2012 for secretaries and administrative assistants was $32,410. Employment for secretaries and administrative assistants is expected to increase by 12 percent from 2010-2020, which is comparable to the national average for all occupations (www.bls.gov)

For those graduates interested in a career as a medical or legal office assistant, the anticipated employment growth rate from 2010-2020 is much faster than the average at 31 percent for medical assistants and average at 18 percent for paralegals and legal assistants, per the BLS.

Popular Career Options

  • Administrative assistant
  • Legal or medical assistant
  • Executive assistant
  • Office assistant
  • Receptionist
  • Office manager
  • Bookkeeper
  • Cashier
  • Bank teller

Continuing Education

Graduates of an AAS in office administration can begin working in an office environment but may wish to pursue continuing education options in coming years due to rapidly changing office technologies. This continuing education may take the form of certificate programs that train students in new or updated software applications.

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