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Administrative assistants play a vital role in facilitating activities in business, legal medical and many other types of offices. Given the diverse tasks they perform, administrative assistants need a wide range of skills, including interpersonal communication and organizational skills.
Roles and Responsibilities
Administrative assistants answer phone calls and transfer them to the right person in the office. They also greet people who walk into the office and help get them connected to the right person. Assistants coordinate department meetings and manage the schedules of the managers for whom they work. Creating basic memos and documents, picking up mail and filing internal documents are additional key roles. In some small offices, an assistant takes care of the bookkeeping duties as well.
In addition to interpersonal communication and organizational skills, English grammar and writing skills are also often needed for administrative assistant roles. These professionals interact with administrators, clients, customers and other office staff on a daily basis, and must convey important information in a positive manner. Integrity is important in any office, but especially in businesses, law offices and medical practices, where administrative assistants often oversee confidential files. Organizational skills are useful in maintaining a file system for easy and efficient document retrieval, and English grammar and writing skills come in handy when preparing internal and external documents and memos.
Technology, Internet and research skills are among the important secondary abilities for an administrative assistant. Software capabilities enhance the duties that an assistant can take on, especially in the areas of bookkeeping and financial record-keeping. Assistants are also asked at times to conduct research for executives by searching the Web, making phone calls or digging through files, so the ability to gather useful information and organize it for easy use by executives or other office staff is another helpful skill.
Education and Training Requirements
A high school diploma combined with basic computer and clerical skills can prepare you for many entry-level administrative assistant jobs. Some community colleges offer administrative assistant programs with more advanced training if you want to gain access to a broader, higher-paying administrative assistant career. On-the-job training is standard in many office environments. If you aspire to work in specific industries, such as legal or medical, you may have to take classes or workshops to gain basic industry knowledge and terminology understanding as well.
Neil Kokemuller has been an active business, finance and education writer and content media website developer since 2007. He has been a college marketing professor since 2004. Kokemuller has additional professional experience in marketing, retail and small business. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Iowa State University.