Administrative assistants are crucial to the smooth operation of an office or workspace. While much of their job description has not changed over the years, some tasks have changed drastically because of the presence of modern technology and computers in the workplace. In addition, administrative assistants have been increasingly taking on jobs and tasks that used to be reserved for members of company management. There are certain training requirements for most administrative assistant jobs, and successful administrative assistants will share certain characteristics.
According to the Alberta Learning Information Service, an administrative assistant needs to be an excellent oral and verbal communicator, posses good interpersonal skills and have an ability to work as part of a team. Another characteristic central to the job of an administrative assistant is organization and time management. Finally, since administrative assistants often work with computers, they should be comfortable with electronics and capable of compiling information.
While the job of an administrative assistant has been evolving with modern technology, certain attributes remain the same. Many administrative assistants will spend a large amount of time behind a desk. Almost all will be involved with computing. In addition many administrative assistants must coordinate schedules and appointments. This means an administrative assistant is not physically active but uses a great deal of managerial skill.
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, most administrative assistant jobs require a high school diploma and basic office skills. In addition, word processing is almost always mandatory. Employers are increasingly looking for administrative assistants with knowledge of specific software applications such as Excel and database management. Training in word processing and office administration can often be obtained in a one- or two-year program at a technical or vocational school.
Administrative assistants provide high-level support to their employers. They do this by engaging in research, scheduling appointments, handling informational requests and performing clerical work. They also receive visitors, prepare correspondence, arrange conference calls and train lower-level clerical staff. In addition, some specialized administrative assistants may be responsible for creating spreadsheets and running various computer programs.