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How to Become an Office Administrator

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The role of an office administrator is to perform clerical tasks that support a business and oversee the work of other administrative professionals such as office clerks. Daily work duties can range from responding to email and phone calls to performing bookkeeping and word processing tasks. To become an office administrator, you’ll need some experience in doing administrative tasks and using applications like Microsoft Office. While a high school diploma may suffice, employers often prefer a degree in office administration.

Job Description

An office administrator performs clerical duties similar to those of an administrative assistant but also oversees administrative staff and assists with basic business management tasks. Common office administration duties include greeting visitors, creating invoices and budgets, using databases, scheduling appointments for staff, working with documents and spreadsheets, answering calls, helping manage projects, and cleaning the office. This role also involves assigning work to other clerical staff and, in some cases, to workers in other departments such as sales and production.

Daily job tasks can vary by the type of company. For example, an office administrator working for a construction firm may create customer purchase orders, handle bid packages and create project proposals, while an office administrator at an accounting firm may focus more on bookkeeping duties.

Education Requirements

Office administration jobs typically require a high school diploma and a few years of experience as an administrative assistant or office clerk. However, some employers prefer hiring those with an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in business administration or office administration. Typical office administrator courses in these programs cover topics such as inventory management, budgeting, business communications and office management. This role also requires expertise in computer applications such as the Microsoft Office suite, inventory management software and scheduling tools.


Office administrators work in all types of companies, including accounting firms, medical offices, manufacturers, car dealerships, construction firms and software firms. In larger companies, they may spend most of their time working with clerical staff, but they may take on wider office management roles in smaller firms where they work closely with other departments.

Many office administration jobs require working full-time during typical daytime business hours, but there are also opportunities for part-time work for those who need more flexible scheduling. Work hours can also vary by season in companies such as accounting firms, where office administrators may work part-time when it’s not tax season.

Years of Experience and Salary

According to the salary website PayScale, the median annual office administrator salary in August 2019 was $45,429, which means that half of the administrators made less, and half made more. Wages ran from under $31,000 for the bottom 10 percent to over $76,000 for the top 10 percent of office administrators. The individual company, level of responsibility of the office administrator, and the firm’s geographic location all impact pay. For example, PayScale reports that Seattle and New York City, as well as the Boeing Company and Edward Jones Investments, reported higher-than-average salaries for the role.

Experience also impacts the average office administrator hourly pay as PayScale’s projections show:

  • Under one year: $14.55
  • One to four years: $15.27
  • Five to nine years: $16.53
  • 10 to 19 years: $17.54
  • 20 or more years: $18.89

Job Growth Trend

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects slow job growth for all first-line supervisors of office and administrative support workers, including office administrators. While the average rate of job growth for all occupations between 2016 and 2026 is 7 percent, it’s expected to be only 3 percent for this occupation group. This creates around 51,200 jobs for first-line supervisors, but there may be more office administrator openings due to turnover. You can improve your chances of landing an office administrator role if you have the college degree, computer skills and the type of managerial experience that employers prefer.

  • When you are applying for a job as an office administrator, take into account the office wardrobe you will be required to wear. If you are into casual attire, don't take a job in a law firm--consider a record producing company instead. The arts and entertainment industry is usually more relaxed when it comes to a dress code.

Ashley Donohoe started writing professionally about business topics in 2010. Having eight years experience running all aspects of her small business, she is knowledgeable about the daily issues and decisions that business owners face. She has also served as a mentor in the IT industry. She has earned a Master of Business Administration degree with a leadership and strategy concentration from Western Governors University. Some other places featuring her business writing include JobHero, Bizfluent, LoveToKnow, PocketSense, Chron and