Staff assistant is a general term for an individual who helps office employees with clerical work. Staff assistants work in a wide range of industries and the duties vary based on the clerical needs of the business. Staff assistants can work assisting only one specific employee or an entire office staff. Staff assistants are frequently referred to as office assistants or administrative assistants.
Staff assistants helps the staff in a particular office by completing clerical tasks. The clerical tasks generally include answering telephone calls and providing the caller with basic information or forwarding the call onto the appropriate party; filing; faxing; copying; opening, sorting and delivering mail; and completing light computer work, such as basic letters or data and graph information. Additional work responsibilities may be assigned based on level of experience, needs of the staff and the industry of the business for which the staff assistant works.
Staff assistants can work in many industries, such as legal offices or a hospital, so the work environment can slightly differ depending on the specific industry. However, regardless of the business industry, most staff assistants still work in an office-like environment. They generally work in a climate-controlled setting, sitting at a computer and desk the majority of their work shift. The work shift is generally eight hours during usual business hours, and a 40-hour workweek, with holidays, weekends and evening work not required.
Staff assistants must have a high school diploma or the equivalent. Many vocational and business schools and community colleges offer one- to two-year certificate programs in office administration; however, a certificate or post secondary education is not needed for most staff assistant positions. In addition to education, staff assistants must have at least one year of work experience in an office setting, with the ability to operate common office equipment, such as copy and fax machines and basic computer skills.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that in 2008, the median annual wage for individuals employed in positions such as executive secretaries, staff assistants and administrative assistants was $40,030. The median annual incomes varied depending on the industry: Company and enterprise management was $45,190, local government was $41,880, post secondary education was $39,220, state government was $35,540 and employment services field was $33,820.
Secretaries, administrative assistants and staff assistant employment was predicted to increase by up to 11 percent from 2008 to 2018, based on general population and business growth, the BLS said. The industries expected to have the most growth for these positions were medical, legal, educational and construction.