General assistants can work in any field or business. There are dental assistants, medical assistants, office assistants, construction assistants, business assistants and so on. Generally, an assistant's goal is to assist either a specific person or business by performing the clerical tasks needed for the person or team to complete the job. But depending on the industry, the job duties and responsibilities can change.
The clerical duties performed help the office, team or individual person perform and complete their job function. Assistants answer phone calls, route the calls to the appropriate person, answer simple questions or take a message. Clerical duties for general assistants include faxing, photocopying, receiving, opening and delivering mail, creating and maintaining files and filing new information, creating and maintaining spreadsheets, answering and responding to emails, scheduling business appointments and making the appropriate travel arrangements. Generally speaking, an assistant completes any tasks that are asked of them. General assistants can work in any field in which clerical staff is needed, so depending on the line of work, additional responsibilities may be necessary.
General assistants must have completed high school or the equivalent. Post high school education, such as technical school or college courses are not required for most positions. Most employers do like assistants to have work experience. Work experience for a general assistant should include one year of general office experience, knowledge of computers and how to use them, the ability to type at least 35 words per minute, good communication skills and the knowledge and ability to work office equipment such as a fax and copy machines.
General assistants work in an office environment. The setting is normally comfortable in a climate controlled environment. Assistants sit at their desk 75 percent of their work shift. The remaining 25 percent is spent standing or walking, normally while filing, delivering mail or running errands. General assistants typically work 40-hour workweeks, Monday through Friday during usual business type hours with evenings, weekends and holidays not normally required as work time.
Positions such as general administrators, secretaries, general assistants and administrative assistants is expected by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics to increase by up to 11 percent from 2008 to 2018, which is average for all occupations. Employment in these fields is expected to increase because the tasks and responsibilities required for these positions are personal and interactive and therefore cannot be performed or automated by computer programs.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2008 the median annual wages for positions such as general assistants, executive secretaries and administrative assistants were $40,030. These positions working in the field of company management earned a median annual income of $45,190, in the field of local government earned a median annual income $41,880, working in colleges, universities, and professional schools earned a median annual income $39,220, working within state government earned a median annual income of $35,540 and within the employment services industry earned a median annual income of $33,820 .