How do I Become an Administrative Assistant?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 26 December 2018
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People of diverse educational and training backgrounds fill administrative assistant jobs. This suggests that lots of paths exist when a person would like to become an administrative assistant. What it takes to do this job can depend on what a company presently requires, but there are usually a set of minimum requirements that most should try to reach before pursuing a career in this field. Many of these requirements are not that hard to reach with a little preparation, planning and work.

The minimum education standard for the vast majority of administrative assistants is a high school diploma. Typically people who didn’t graduate aren’t hired regularly. If a person doesn’t yet have a GED or diploma, they should consider earning this first before applying for jobs.

It’s recommended that students pay special attention to acquiring writing skills, since they may be needed to write material or edit the work of others. Another skill for those who would like to become an administrative assistant is fast typing. Many employers require a certain words per minute (WPM) speed, and the majority of would be assistants should aim for at least 50 or preferably 60 wpm, which might be easily acquired using a typing tutor computer program at home.


After high school there are many programs a person can consider taking to get a certificate in office skills or assisting. These may be worthwhile since they show that job applicants possess certain needed skills, like familiarity with computers, ability to create spreadsheets and to easily use other common office software, and a thorough grounding in business English. Many of these programs are of short duration, less than a year to two years, and can be inexpensively pursued at local junior or community colleges. Longer programs might result in an AA degree, which is never a bad thing. People can also investigate vocational schools, which train students to become an administrative assistant.

It’s not that everyone requires this training, since they may have extensive experience with office software and naturally good instincts when it comes to writing. Yet it can be said that higher levels of education make it easier to find jobs for most people. Many jobs may list a minimum skill set or education requirement, and having more skills clearly means a person can apply for more jobs.

Having met minimum requirements, people can begin to apply for jobs so they can become an administrative assistant, yet on this topic of education more can be said. Lots of people specialize as administrative assistants in legal or medical fields, and this can be desirable if a person wants higher pay or is drawn to either of these areas of work. There are also training programs that may result in four-year degrees and really help people raise their eligibility to work as an executive assistant or to manage other administrative assistants.

Another way to become an administrative assistant is from the position of possessing a bachelor’s degree, often in one of the liberal arts. With a little training in office software, those having trouble finding employment after college may find employment as administrative assistants. Employers often view the four-year degree very favorably since it says much about advanced writing skills. A good way to get training on office software for free is to sign up with unemployment and temporary job placement agencies, which offer free training. Taking a temporary job or two is not a bad idea either because it can add to knowledge about what it will take to become an administrative assistant.



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