Support staff members work in a wide array of industries and their duties vary by company. In most instances, they are responsible for routine office tasks that other employees are too busy to handle. For instance, a support staff member might type letters or fax documents written by his superiors, or enter important data into computers. He might also assist with sales or bookkeeping.
Support staff members perform a variety of duties, and must be prepared to handle many tasks at once. They might be responsible for forwarding calls or important messages, or taking minutes at meetings. Some may even distribute their company’s incoming mail, while others may help schedule appointments. In some industries, support workers may have to make sure supplies are ordered and shelves are stocked. Occasionally, they might also be responsible for billing and even collections.
Support staff members need to be quick learners and versatile. They should possess strong communication skills—both written and verbal—and a sound work ethic. They need to approach their jobs with a positive attitude, and have a thorough understanding of their company’s policies and overall mission. On top of those things, support staff members likely need to own basic computer skills. Support staff often interact with customers, so they must be able to conduct themselves in a professional and courteous manner.
Requirements to become a support staff member vary by industry. In most cases, a high school diploma and ability to learn on the job is sufficient. That’s especially true of those who carry the titles of administrative assistants, secretaries or receptionists. Some companies require support workers to carry an associate degree or certificate, with a focus on areas such as typing, grammar, communications and business. Again, much depends on the size and scope of each individual business.
Opportunities for those provide office and clerical support should be plentiful for years to come. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for general office clerks are expected to increase by 12 percent through 2018. The BLS also estimated that employment of secretaries and administrative assistants will grow by 11 percent during the same decade.
Wages for support staff members fluctuate by industry, as well as their time on the job and overall duties. According to the BLS, general office clerks earned a median wage of $25,320 per hour in May 2008, while secretaries and administrative assistants made a median hourly wage of $29,050 during the same month.