Executive Assistant Training Programs and Requirements

Executive assistants provide office management and organizational support to managers, directors, executives and their teams. Executive assistants must have exceptional attention to detail and time management skills. They often work at a rapid pace to plan and schedule meetings and presentations, keep the executive's calendar, schedule travel arrangements and manage flow of information to and from the executive's office.

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Training Requirements and Recommendations

Corporations expect a minimum of a high school diploma for applicants to administrative assistant fields, but many prefer applicants to have an associate or bachelor's degree. However, work experience may substitute for educational credentials. Practical skills required include the operation of standard office equipment, proficiency in computer applications and excellent communication skills. Some positions will require a minimum typing speed.

Formal Education

Formal training for those seeking a career as an executive assistant may include certificate and associate degree programs, often in a field such as business office technology. Those seeking baccalaureate degrees are not usually required to complete specific fields of study.

Administrative Assistant Certificate

Both short-term certificates and longer 1-year programs are available for aspiring administrative assistants. Graduates are prepared for entry-level clerical positions, which may lead to higher-level support positions. Course topics include standard office procedures, word processing, database management, customer service and interpersonal relations, reports preparation and basic accounting.

Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Administrative Technology

In addition to the core clerical skills emphasized in a certificate program, students complete general education coursework. Most programs may be completed in two years. Students develop organizational, communication and research skills. Specific skills taught include Microsoft Office applications, business writing and mathematics and communications. An internship may be included as a program requirement.

Job Experience

At least 3-5 years of administrative assistant experience is usually required for an executive-level support position, but both work and educational experiences are often considered. Entry-level administrative assistant positions are commonly available to those with GEDs or high school diplomas. After a few years, solidly performing administrative assistants are usually able to increase the scope of their responsibilities and therefore further their careers.

Licenses and Certifications

Licensure or certification isn't required to work as an executive assistant, but additional credentials are available for those seeking additional professional recognition. The International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP) is a professional organization that offers two paths for administrative support personnel.

Certified Professional Secretary (CPS)

A combination of work and educational experience is required for the CPS credential. Additionally, applicants must pass a 3-part examination focusing on office technology and systems, administration and management.

Certified Administrative Professional (CAP)

The next step of certification after the CPS, a Certified Administrative Professional candidate must complete an additional test section on advanced organizational management. Several years of work and education experience is required to be eligible.

Workshops and Seminars

Numerous workshops, seminars and conventions are available at the national and regional level. Topics include office management techniques and skills and leadership building workshops. Focused groups are also available at the local level that may help develop specific skill like business writing and reports creation. Online opportunities are also available to develop skills.

Additional Professional Development

Many online and local courses provide executive assistants the opportunity to advance their skills in the field. Topics may include skills in presentations, human resources policies and time management. Experienced support personnel may receive credit for work experience that could apply to an associate or bachelor's degree program.

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