Administrative aides -- or assistants, as they're also called -- provide the clerical and logistical support that an office needs in order to function. The basic responsibilities depend on the job description, but generally speaking, employers prefer computer-literate candidates with superior communications skills, a keen organizational sense and advanced multitasking abilities. Managers aren't always available to supervise every part of a project, so an ability to work independently is also important.
Initial requirements depend on the job. Entry-level positions are usually open to high school graduates with basic office, computer and English grammar skills. Classes in these subjects are available at local community colleges and technical schools. These institutions also attract medical and legal secretarial applicants needing to learn industry-specific jargon, notes the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Many temporary placement agencies offer similar training; however, employers generally prefer a bachelor's degree for executive secretarial positions.
Coordination and Scheduling
From answering phones to updating event calendars, administrative aides are intimately involved in every significant organizational activity of an office. Routing incoming mail and faxes to the appropriate person is part of the job, as is booking appointments and staff meetings. Assistants at larger organizations like colleges or public agencies also often serve as liaisons between their bosses and the organizations' various departments.
Correspondence and Communications
Editing and composing memos, reports and other office documents is another key task that managers assign to administrative aides. Higher-level jobs come with more complex responsibilities. For example, executive assistants may conduct research and prepare presentations and spreadsheets, and school district aides may be expected to compose, edit and produce materials for departmental, divisional and school publications -- plus bulletins, codes, newsletters and performance programs.
Discretion and good judgment are essential qualities for administrative aides, who serve as their employer's public face. This role often involves answering questions and assisting dissatisfied customers. For example, an aide at a property management company's office would be expected to record details of a tenant's complaint and help resolve his issue. Aides need superior problem-solving and conflict resolution skills to deal with such situations.
Record-Keeping and Data Management
An administrative aide maintains an organization's institutional memory through her record-keeping and database management skills. At a school district, for example, an aide may coordinate and maintain files and indexes. By contrast, a homeowner's association may expect assistants to organize and manage general correspondence, invoices, key fobs, petty cash receipts and work orders -- as well as the organization's internal documents. At larger organizations, aides may manage stockrooms or corporate libraries.