The Role of an Administrative Assistant

Interested in becoming part of an office team? Do you want to become an administrative assistant? The Administrative Assisting graduate may work as a secretary, receptionist, executive assistant, or administrative assistant. They will also learn different curriculum including accounting, office administration, Microsoft Office, business math and English, and advanced keyboarding.

Administrative Assistant Roles

Role #1: Secretary & Administrative Assistants – performs clerical and administrative duties. They organize files, prepare documents, schedule appointments and support staff. They can work in offices, schools, government agencies and private corporations. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, secretaries and administrative assistants typically do the following:

  • Answer telephones and take messages or transfer calls
  • Schedule appointments and update event calendars
  • Arrange staff meetings
  • Handle incoming and outgoing mail
  • Prepare memos, invoices, or other reports using word processing software
  • Edit documents with Microsoft Office
  • Maintain databases and filing systems, whether electronic or paper

Role #2: Receptionist – the first employee of an organization that a customer or client will have contact with. A receptionist is responsible for making a good first impression. The receptionist is also responsible for performing administrative tasks, answer phones, receive visitors and provide general information about the organization to the public. Receptionists typically do the following:

  • Answer telephone calls and take messages or forward calls
  • Schedule and confirm appointments and maintain company calendars
  • Greet and welcome customers, clients, and other visitors
  • Check visitors in and direct them to specific destinations
  • Inform other employees of visitors’ arrivals or cancellations
  • Copy, file, and maintain paper or electronic documents
  • Handle incoming and outgoing mail and email

Role #3: Executive Assistant – provide high-level administrative support by conducting research, preparing statistical reports, handling information requests, and performing clerical functions such as preparing correspondence, receiving visitors, arranging conference calls, and scheduling meetings for an office and for top executives of an organization. They may handle more complex responsibilities and some also supervise clerical staff. Executive assistants do the following on a day-to-day basis:

  • Assistance with clerical tasks, accepting and making phone calls, setting business meetings, sending memos, reviewing incoming reports and setting the executive’s daily schedule.
  • Conduct research and prepare statistical reports that are used by executives to make business decisions.
  • Receive visitors and controls which phone calls go through to the executive.
  • Supervise and train clerical staff to coordinate administrative assistants and their tasks.

Administrative Assistant Curriculum

An administrative assisting program will teach specific curriculum including accounting, office administration skills, Microsoft Office, business math and English, and advanced keyboarding.

Manual and Computerized Accounting – keeping financial records by hand or with the aid of a computer. The administrative assistant will be responsible for recording of financial transactions plus storing, sorting, retrieving, summarizing and presenting the information in various reports.

Office Administration Skills – related to running a business or keeping an office organized. Office administration skills include creating documents, managing spreadsheets, conducting research, maintaining files, answering telephones and managing customers. Office administration skills include the following skills that a successful administrative assistant should learn:

  • Communication Skills – an administrative assistant will interact with employers, staff and clients. It is important for the administrative assistant to speak clearly, loudly and maintain a positive tone. They must also listen in order to know how to help. Written communication is also important for administrative assistants to master.
  • Technology Skills – administrative assistants operate a variety of technological tools including Microsoft Office and online scheduling programs. They may also be responsible for the maintenance of office equipment, faxes, scanners and printers.
  • Organization – administrative assistants must keep extremely organized to juggle the many tasks they are responsible for. They will use calendars, appointment scheduling software and other tools to keep the office running smoothly.
  • Planning – a successful administrative assistant can plan and schedule things in advance. They need to plan ahead and prepare for any office issues.
  • Problem Solving – Many members of the staff and customers come to the administrative assistant with questions or problems. The administrative assistant must be able to listen to questions or problems and come up with an appropriate solution using problem solving skills.

Microsoft Office – a computer program created by Microsoft for word processing, spreadsheets, database management, email management and presentation creation.

  • Microsoft Word – a word processing program that helps administrative assistant create documents, memos, letters and business collateral. These documents can be printed or sent by email.
  • Microsoft Excel – a spreadsheet program that can calculate, graph, manage data in pivot tables and use macros to perform repetitive tasks.
  • Microsoft Access – a database management system to manage contacts and other data for later use by administrative assistants.
  • Microsoft PowerPoint – presentation software that uses slide presentations to convey information for meetings or educational purposes.
  • Microsoft Outlook – email interface and personal information manager that is used for email applications, calendar, task manager, contact manager, note taking, journaling and web browsing.

Business Math and English – used by administrative assistants to record and manage business operations. Mathematics in particular is used in accounting, inventory management, marketing, sales forecasting and financial analysis. The most common topic of business math is Business Statistics. Business English focuses on vocabulary, spelling, grammar, and punctuation used by the administrative assistant for correspondence, meetings, presentations, and report writing.

Advanced Keyboarding – much of what an administrative assistant does is completed on a computer with a keyboard. The administrative assistant must master advanced keyboarding to increase their skill, speed and accuracy while typing. This advanced typing skill can be used while creating of business reports, presentations and correspondence.

Did learning about the role of an administrative assistant interest you? Want to find out more about becoming an administrative assistant and learning about accounting, office administrative skills, Microsoft Office, business math and English, and advanced keyboarding? The Administrative Assisting diploma program is designed to train Gwinnett College students to seek entry-level positions in the office administration or secretarial field. The externship phase of the program will allow students to apply the skills learned during the classroom training. Graduates of the program can also transfer all credits into Gwinnett’s Associate of Science Degree in Business (Computer Information concentration).  Contact us to learn more about how you can become an office administrator or secretary today.