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Program assistants provide administrative support in a variety of office settings, often relating to university and non-profit programs. Their duties and the educational requirements vary based on the position level or type, but strong organizational skills are essential regardless of the work setting. Bachelor's degrees are not typically required, but most hiring companies look for some post-secondary education.
General administrative duties for program assistants are often clerical in nature. They answer and transfer calls, take messages, control documents and maintain records. Other common tasks include scheduling meetings and preparing necessary materials; documenting and distributing meeting minutes; and compiling reports. Computer work can involve logging data, creating charts and updating websites.
Program support duties include gathering information from program team members, fielding questions from customers and stakeholders, reporting or investigating concerns and performing research. Program assistants also keep program plans up to date, allowing program managers to get a clear view of the current status. Additional duties can include scheduling training events and preparing corresponding materials. Program assistants also develop methods to coordinate and manage data and reports.
Strong written and verbal communication skills are a must, because program assistants are a key link in the chain of communications among program managers, team members, customers and other stakeholders. Assistants must also successfully apply active listening skills. Experience with word processing and spreadsheet applications prepares program assistants to learn program-specific databases and other information technology tools unique to each organization.
Education and Outlook
Not all program assistants need degrees, but some post-secondary education is typically required. On-the-job training is common. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics classifies program assistants as secretaries and administrative assistants, and reports a median annual salary in 2012 of $35,330. Expected job growth from 2012 to 2022 is at 12 percent.
A careers content writer, Debra Kraft is a former English teacher whose 25-plus year corporate career includes training and mentoring. She holds a senior management position with a global automotive supplier and is a senior member of the American Society for Quality. Her areas of expertise include quality auditing, corporate compliance, Lean, ERP and IT business analysis.