what is an administrative assistant?

As an administrative assistant, you deliver general office support and complete a range of admin tasks, including scheduling appointments, making travel arrangements and preparing reports. Your duties are secretarial. Therefore, expect to take notes in meetings, answer phones and oversee the logistics of the office. You also collaborate with multiple supervisors about projects while overseeing other secretaries.

Administrative assistants working in specialised fields or promoted to the position of an executive administrative assistant often require additional training or education. In these positions, your duties exceed secretarial tasks and include logistical tasks like restocking the office with new supplies. You also send and open the mail and coordinate different schedules.

As an administrative assistant, you are a source of information for the public and the face of the company. This requires a high level of professionalism and the ability to remain composed in different circumstances and settings. You also manage and complete performance reports on other administrative assistants, especially if you work for a large corporation that has many teams of employees. When the company hires new employees, you help with their paperwork, training and setting up their workspaces.

An administrative assistant manages a complex calendar for several managers and supervisors for personal appointments and professional meetings. Your role also requires performing industry-specific research and creating documents for upcoming presentations or meetings. Daily tasks involve proofreading and preparing different types of reports.

Would working as an administrative assistant suit your organisational skills? Then read on to find out what competencies and qualifications you need to thrive in an administrative assistant role.


administrative assistant jobs

average salary of an administrative assistant

Administrative assistants' salaries usually depend on their work experience and qualifications. According to National Careers, an administrative assistant receives a salary of £14,000 when working in a trainee position. When you improve your experience and skills, the amount increases to £28,000 per year. Most employers increase the salary yearly depending on the scope of your job.

Apart from basic pay, you also receive various benefits. Some of the most common benefits for administrative assistants include parental leave, paid holiday and sick leave and flexible spending accounts.

factors that influence the salary of administrative assistants

Your pay depends on the employer and your level of experience. Additional factors that influence your salary are education and certifications. Employers will increase your salary since you bring more hands-on skills to the company when you have better qualifications and skills. Additional competencies, like bilingual abilities, help the company deal with international clients better, and your compensation will reflect the extra qualifications. The location could also affect pay rates. Working in urban centres increases your salary prospects compared with small towns. Large cities have a higher demand for administrative assistants and can pay better salaries.


woman walking downstairs
woman walking downstairs

types of administrative assistants

The types of administrative assistant positions include:

  • legal administrative assistants: as a legal admin assistant, you assist lawyers and paralegals with administrative work. You file clients' paperwork, conduct research and take notes during client consultations. You also receive correspondence and send letters on behalf of lawyers.
  • executive administrative assistants: as an executive admin assistant, you help top-level managers accomplish their functions. You prepare their work schedules, organise appointments and write minutes in meetings. Other administration tasks may include hiring employees and bookkeeping.
  • local government administrative assistant: as an administrative assistant in local government, you support council departments. You also help members of the public in receiving government services.


working as an administrative assistant

Working as an administrative assistant involves helping the company ensure all operations run smoothly. Let's explore some of the duties of an administrative assistant.


education and skills

You need the following educational qualifications to succeed as an administrative assistant:

  • college: a college course imparts the knowledge necessary for the role. For instance, most administrative assistants have a Level 3 diploma or a Level 2 certificate in business administration. For the Level 2 course, you need 2 GCSEs with grades 9 to 3, while the Level 3 diploma requires 4 to 5 GCSEs. T Level courses in management and administration are also available for administrative assistants.
  • apprenticeship: pursue an advanced apprenticeship in business administration and gain skills and knowledge to work as an administrative assistant. You need 5 GCSEs and have to work at least 30 hours a week.
  • work experience: you should have basic experience of working in an office setting to secure a job. For instance, you can become an administrative assistant intern or explore entry-level positions like becoming a receptionist.

skills and competencies

Some of the administration skills and competencies needed in the role include:

  • technical skills: as an administrative assistant, you need technical skills to perform data entry tasks, manage calendars and prepare company reports. You need to be familiar with various software like spreadsheets, customer relationship management systems and virtual help desks. Technical skills help you complete your responsibilities efficiently.
  • communication abilities: as an administrative assistant, you need exceptional communication skills. Your employer needs to trust you to be the company's voice when handling customer correspondence. You should speak to people professionally and have a friendly and positive attitude when talking to customers and guests.
  • organisational skills: you require organisational skills to keep up with your schedules and ensure the office is organised. Your role often includes organising team schedules, files and events. Your fellow team members can follow your filing system when you have organisational skills. You also won't misplace important documents in the office.
  • time management: since you are a resource for most workers in the company, your time is always stretched. Time management helps you properly allocate and plan your schedule to ensure you assist all departments. It also improves your productivity and performance and helps you become a better resource for your team.

smiling corporate employee
smiling corporate employee


FAQs about working as an administrative assistant

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