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Skills Essential to become an Administrative Assistant

By Nancy Higgins

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, administrative assistance is ranked among occupations with the largest number of job openings over the next few years. Furthermore, the bureau projects best opportunities for professionals with exhaustive knowledge of computer software applications.

The knowledge of computers is one of the essential skills needed for the job of an administrative assistant. There are a host of other skills ranging from essential to desirable that an administrative assistant should have to be able to do his or her job effectively.

Let’s look at some of the skills you may need if you are interested in this profession.

Communication skills: Part of an administrative assistant’s duty is to handle written correspondence and telephone conversations. It’s vital, therefore, that they have impeccable verbal and written communication skills. This means they should be excellent grammarians and know how to spell words correctly (or at least use the spell checker properly). They should have clarity of thought and be able to communicate in a way that gets the message across clearly. The ability to communicate effectively is the hallmark of a great administrative assistant.

Time management skills: If you are an administrative assistant, it’s possible that you will always have your plate full with a multitude of tasks. The volume of work assigned to an administrative assistant can easily overwhelm him or her. There will always be something critical demanding your attention. The key is to know how to prioritize your work and complete your tasks in the given timeframe. For that, you need to be able to manage your time effectively.

Interpersonal skills: Most employerslooking to hire administrative assistants prefer candidates with good interpersonal and customer service skills. The job requires them to deal with multiple people who may have different personalities. Administrative assistants should be able to interact with all kinds of people tactfully and without rubbing them the wrong way. It also helps to have a pleasing personality and an approachable “aura” if you are gunning for this job.

Organizational skills: If you are interested in the job of an administrative assistant, this is one of the most vital skills to have in your kitty. As an admin assistant, you will be required to schedule meetings, fix appointments, maintain tons of files, manage projects, make travel arrangements, plan for guest visits, etc. If you are not organized as a person, you may find it impossible to stay on top of your day-to-day responsibilities. The good things is that you can use aids like Post-It notes (if you still believe in doing it the traditional way), computer software, and now increasingly your phone, to stay organized.

Computer skills: None of the work that you set out to do as an administrative assistant can be done without the computer. So, it’s important for you to be proficient in using a computer. Knowledge of Microsoft Office tools like Word, Excel and PowerPoint is absolutely essential. If you haven’t had much to do with them until now, it may be a good idea to take some Microsoft Office courses to develop your skills. You can take Microsoft Office courses online at not a very high cost.

You should also know your way around computer software applications that your organization may be using for email, information and database management, billing processes, inventory keeping, etc. Another skill that may help you achieve your goals quickly and efficiently is fast and accurate typing.

How to become an Administrative Assistant

If you have all the skills discussed above, the rest is easy as training requirements are not very extensive to become an administrative assistant.

In fact, high school graduates with decent office management skills may qualify for entry-level positions. However, considering the current job environment, it may be a good idea to invest in post secondary administrative assistant training online.

Vocational and technical schools may offer administrative assistant training online. Depending on the program and school you choose, you may be able to complete your training course in a few months to a year’s time. A college degree from a community or junior college, however, will take a minimum of two years.

There are various certifications to test and prove your proficiencies for the job. You can look to get a Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) certification. Organizations like the International Association of Administrative Professionals also offer certifications that may boost your marketability!

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Article Citation
MLA Style Citation:
Higgins, Nancy "Skills Essential to become an Administrative Assistant." Skills Essential to become an Administrative Assistant. 9 Apr. 2012. 22 Aug 2014 <>.

APA Style Citation:
Higgins, N (2012, April 9). Skills Essential to become an Administrative Assistant. Retrieved August 22, 2014, from

Chicago Style Citation:
Higgins, Nancy "Skills Essential to become an Administrative Assistant"

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