2021 Best Online Administrative Assistant Certifications

Earning an administrative assistant certification online can help you begin a career in an office setting.

Administrative Assistant Certifications

Through courses on software, bookkeeping, customer relations, and file management, you can learn skills that are used daily by office professionals. This program can help equip you to perform the duties of an entry level administrative assistant.

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As a certified administrative professional, you may also have work opportunities in various settings, such as schools, businesses, or government agencies.

Online Administrative Assistant Certification Programs

Administrative Assistant Certification Programs

If your career plan involves working in an office setting, administrative assistant certifications can help you get started. Earning a certificate can be an efficient way to establish yourself as a strong candidate for entry-level office positions.

Since certificate programs include only a handful of courses, they often focus on the most essential skills for administrative assistants. Your curriculum may address:

  • Bookkeeping
  • Business communication
  • Customer service
  • Data entry
  • File management
  • Letter writing
  • Office software
  • Proofreading
  • Scheduling
  • Spreadsheets

Offices have become increasingly reliant on technology, so today’s administrative assistants need to learn how to navigate it. Learning to use business applications can be one aspect of a college certification program.

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You’ll generally also learn how to conduct yourself in an office setting and how to handle many of the day-to-day tasks. By taking courses on time management and professional communications, you may set yourself apart from other job candidates.

If you plan to work in a law or medical office, you can also take a few classes focused on the terminology and procedures used in those settings.

Once you’ve earned this certificate, you can look for work in a variety of office settings. Some administrative assistants work in doctor’s offices, law offices, or government agencies. Others work in schools, small businesses, social service agencies, or corporations.

After gaining experience in entry-level roles, you might qualify for more advanced positions. For example, some professionals become supervisors who coordinate multiple members of the office staff. Others find jobs as executive assistants who manage the affairs of top-level business leaders.

Administrative Assistant Careers & Salaries

Administrative Assistant Careers & Salaries

Through administrative assistant training, you can learn how to perform clerical duties and maintain systems of organization. This can prepare you for work in a variety of office settings.

Sectors that employ administrative assistants include healthcare, social services, education, government, nonprofit, law, and business. Your particular training may dictate which work setting you pursue.

For example, being an administrative assistant in a doctor’s office may require some healthcare-focused courses. To understand the terminology that legal assistants use, you might need to take classes on the law.

Other secretarial jobs may not require such specialized knowledge. With a general administrative assistant certificate, you might pursue a position in the main office of a school, a small business, or a nonprofit agency.

Your responsibilities might include answering phones, typing documents, filing paperwork, maintaining schedules, and entering data into spreadsheets. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, office and administrative support jobs earn an average annual salary of $38,720.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Executive Secretaries and Executive Administrative Assistants $63,110
Legal Secretaries and Administrative Assistants $48,980
Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerks $42,410
Financial Clerks $41,520
Secretaries and Administrative Assistants $38,850
Medical Secretaries and Administrative Assistants $37,350
Information Clerks $36,920
Customer Service Representatives $35,830
General Office Clerks $35,330
Receptionists $31,110

Your personal salary will vary depending on your job responsibilities and your experience, among other factors. Some of the above jobs can require additional training or certifications.

Administrative assistant training can also prepare you to work as an executive assistant. Executive assistants focus on supporting one of the top leaders in an organization. They may also supervise other secretaries or office staff.

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You might need to gain experience before landing an executive assistant role. In addition to working as an administrative assistant, there are other jobs you may qualify for as well.

Your ability to interact with others on the phone or in person can be useful as a receptionist or a customer service representative. A clerking job could also be a good fit for your administrative skills. Clerking responsibilities can include bookkeeping or data entry.

Administrative Assistant Certificate Courses

Administrative Assistant Certificate

Your coursework can help you develop practical skills that are useful in a variety of office settings. The curriculum can include classes like:

  • Bookkeeping and Money Matters: You can learn basic billing, payment, and banking techniques for office settings, and you may discuss handling payroll as well.
  • Business Foundations: An introductory course will introduce you to modern office concepts and set the stage for the upcoming classes in your certification program.
  • Business Writing: This course will teach you to be professional in your written communication, including memos, letters, and emails.
  • Communication Skills: You’ll practice skills for speaking to coworkers and customers, and you’ll also work on giving presentations.
  • Filing Systems: The main focus of this class will be on records management through computer-based or paper filing systems.
  • Introduction to Law: To prepare for a job in a legal office, you can study basic law concepts, such as contracts and criminal law.
  • Medical Terminology: Becoming familiar with the vocabulary often used in healthcare settings will be helpful if you want to work in a medical or dental office.
  • Office Computers and Applications: After studying computer hardware, online resources, and common word processing and presentation programs, you can become adept at using office technology.
  • Spreadsheets: In this course, you’ll explore the features of a popular spreadsheet program and learn to work with databases.
  • Typing Skills: You’ll become more proficient at typing quickly and accurately, and you’ll take typing tests to demonstrate your skills.

Some of these courses may be electives that you can choose if they are relevant to your career goals.

How to Become an Administrative Assistant

Become an Administrative Assistant

Training requirements for an administrative assistant can vary from one employer to the next. Even still, the more office skills you develop, the better chance you’ll have of landing a desirable position. Plus, relevant training can increase your eligibility for advancement opportunities.

Your process to becoming an administrative assistant might look like this:

  • Earn high school diploma or GED. If possible, you can get ahead of the game by taking courses in typing and office applications while in high school.
  • Take relevant courses. You can take college-level administrative assistant courses, and you can enroll in classes specific to your desired field if you plan to work in law or healthcare.
  • Earn certificate or degree. An administrative assistant certificate or an associate degree can help you develop a solid skill set and gain a competitive edge in the workforce.
  • Apply for jobs. Once you’re trained, you can pursue entry-level office positions. You can continue to learn specific skills through on-the-job training.
  • Become certified. If you want to become certified as an administrative assistant, you can pursue industry certification. A professional certification is optional but can demonstrate your advanced knowledge and qualifications in the field.

At some point, you might also want to consider getting a bachelors degree that’s relevant to your line of work. Some employers prefer to hire candidates with four-year degrees for their executive assistant positions.

A bachelors degree may also help you advance to managerial positions. Leadership positions can include health services manager, administrative services manager, or project manager.

What Is an Administrative Assistant?

administrative assistant professional

An administrative assistant is a professional whose work supports the daily operations of an organization.

Administrative assistants, sometimes known as secretaries, perform tasks like typing memos, answering phones, and scheduling appointments. Other tasks can include maintaining records and keeping track of payments.

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Some administrative professionals help executives manage their responsibilities. Others work in the central office of a department or an organization. Being an administrative assistant requires strong communication skills. It’s also helpful to be dependable, organized, and able to multi-task. Proficiency with office software is beneficial too.

How Much Does an Admin Assistant Make?

Admin Assistant salary

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for secretaries and administrative assistants is $40,990 per year. Most make between $26,880 and $67,510.

The highest wages are typically reserved for executive assistants. Such positions pay an average annual salary of $63,110 (Bureau of Labor Statistics). Specialized training may also contribute to higher earnings. For example, the average salary for legal administrative assistants and secretaries is $48,980 per year.

The professional, scientific, and technical services sector offers some of the top wages for administrative assistants. Government jobs have the next-highest pay rates.

What Degree Do You Need to Be an Administrative Assistant?

certificate program in administrative assistant

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a high school diploma may be the only requirement for some entry-level assistant positions. Even still, college-level courses can benefit your resume. The more education you have, the less on-the-job training you’ll need.

A certificate program will introduce you to common office software programs, and you can work on your typing skills. Your courses may also cover bookkeeping and payroll. In specialized courses, you might even learn medical coding or legal terminology.

Another option is to earn an administrative assistant associate degree. The additional course requirements could further develop your administrative skills and provide a broader educational experience.

What Can You Do with an Administrative Assistant Certificate?

Administrative Assistant careers

After being trained by administrative assistant courses online, you may look for office work in a variety of industries. After gaining a few years of working experience, many students find it beneficial to continue their educations and earn an online associates degree in administrative assistant studies.

Administrative responsibilities can include filing papers, sending memos, scheduling appointments, and answering phones. You might do data entry and bookkeeping too. Potential job titles include office clerk, receptionist, secretary, administrative assistant, and executive secretary.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, general office clerks earn an average salary of $35,330 per year, and secretaries and administrative assistants make an average salary of $40,990.

How Do You Become a Certified Administrative Assistant?

Certified Administrative Assistant

Some students wonder how to become an administrative assistant with no experience. After getting a high school diploma, these steps can help you increase your employability as an administrative assistant:

  • Learn administrative skills. You can enroll in technical school classes or college courses for administrative assistants.
  • Earn a college certificate. You can complete an administrative assistant certificate program to receive professional training and qualifications.
  • Apply for jobs. You can pursue jobs where you can apply your learned skills. You receive additional training at your job.
  • Pursue industry certifications. You can further develop your skills and qualifications by earning additional industry certifications, such as the Certified Administrative Assistant (CAA) and the Certified Administrative Professional (CAP).

The CAA certification is from the National Career Certification Board, and the CAP certification is from the International Association of Administrative Professionals.

You could also consider furthering your education with an administrative assistant, medical assistant, or paralegal associate degree. Another option is to pursue a bachelor’s degree in business administration or healthcare administration.

How Long Does It Take to Get an Administrative Assistant Certificate?

Administrative assistant certification typically takes 5 to 16 months to complete. Programs can vary greatly in length, depending on how many courses they include and how long their classes are.

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Some administrative assistant schools want students to earn 12 to 18 credit hours. Other programs involve earning 30 credit hours or more. With a longer program, you won’t have your certificate in hand quite as quickly. On the other hand, you’ll have time to learn more things, practice more skills, and maybe even add more credentials to your resume.

What’s the Difference Between a Certificate vs. Degree in Administrative Assistant Studies?

If you’re interested in becoming an administrative assistant, specialized training can give you a competitive edge in the job market. Many colleges offer both certificate programs and degree programs for administrative assistant studies.

Certificate Program Associate Degree
  • About 5 or more classes that are focused on business topics
  • Around 5 months to 16 months of study
  • Job opportunities in entry-level office roles
  • Option to continue your studies with additional certification programs
  • About 24 classes on both general education and business topics
  • Around 24 months of study
  • Opportunities for office administration jobs and potential for management roles
  • Possibility of transferring credits into a bachelors degree program

Some certificate programs can transfer into an associate program if you decide to further your education, but not all programs are designed to work that way.

What’s the Difference Between a Certificate vs. Diploma in Administrative Assistant Studies?

Diploma and certificate programs are quite similar. Both offer non-degree options for pursuing training in a particular field. In fact, the two terms are often used interchangeably.

Certificate Program Diploma Program
  • Course of study focused on a particular topic
  • Often less than 30 credit hours
  • Typically completed in less than 1 year
  • Course of study with classes and hands-on practice
  • Sometimes more than 30 credit hours
  • Usually takes around 1 year to complete

Both certificates and diplomas can help equip you to perform duties as an assistant, a receptionist, or an office clerk.

What’s the Difference Between an Administrative Assistant vs. Executive Assistant?

Administrative assistants and executive assistants perform similar duties, but each group has a different focus.

Administrative Assistants Executive Assistants
  • Focus on departmental or organization-wide office duties
  • Handle tasks like bill payment, record filing, and appointment scheduling
  • May report to an administrator
  • Often qualified with a high school diploma or an office administration certificate
  • Focus on the needs of one company executive
  • Manage the executive’s calendar, correspondence, and research
  • May oversee other staff
  • Might need experience or a college degree

It’s possible to start as a secretary or an administrative assistant and later receive a promotion to work as an executive assistant.

Is an Administrative Assistant Certificate Worth It?

Administrative Assistant programs

Yes, an administrative assistant certificate is worth it for many students. Administrative assistant programs can provide valuable training for careers in today’s office settings.

With just a few months of study, you have the opportunity to become proficient with office applications and filing systems. You can learn more about interpersonal communication, professional writing, and customer service. These versatile skills can be applied in many office settings.

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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for receptionists are growing at a 4% rate, and new office personnel will be needed to take the place of retiring workers. Likewise, medical secretaries and administrative assistants are projected to have 10% job growth over the next ten years.

Universities Offering Online Administrative Assistant Certificate Programs

Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.

Delta College

Delta College campus

Delta College offers an Office Assistant Advanced Certificate. Classes are small and incorporate the best technology. This program is often a good fit for people who like working with computers and helping others. It is designed to help students develop their skills at bookkeeping, word processing, and related tasks.

Delta College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Harper College

Harper College campus

Harper College’s Administrative Assistant Certificate program is designed to help students develop their proficiency in word processing, spreadsheets, and other administrative software. It consists of 17 credit hours that are not stackable to a degree.

It can help prepare you for work as an administrative assistant, customer service representative, and office manager.

Harper College is fully accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Kennesaw State University

Kennesaw State University campus

Kennesaw State University’s College of Professional Education offers an Administrative Assistant Certificate that can be completed entirely online.

It requires three courses: Administrative Assistant Fundamentals, Administrative Assistant Applications, and Interpersonal Communications. The courses cover information and records management and communications technology. These courses can help prepare you for the Certified Administrative Professional exam.

Kennesaw State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Lehman College

Lehman College campus

Lehman College offers an Administrative Assistant Certificate. Coursework covers effective business communication and how to use common office software applications, such as Microsoft Word, Excel, and Outlook.

Each course requires just six sessions, and all courses combined usually take 62 hours to complete. All courses are currently available online.

Lehman College is accredited by the Middle States Commission of Higher Education.

Lone Star College

Lone Star College campus

Lone Star College offers a 2 year Administrative Support Certificate that can be earned online or on campus. Coursework covers business keyboarding, business math, word processing, spreadsheets, and administrative office procedures.

The program can help prepare you for work as a receptionist, office assistant, administrative assistant, or office application specialist. Other jobs that can be pursued with this certificate are medical administrative specialist and medical administrative assistant.

Lone Star College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Minnesota State Community and Technical College

Minnesota State Community and Technical College campus

Minnesota State Community and Technical College has an Administrative Office Assistant program. It is 18 credit hours long and can be completed online. Specializations are available in Finance, Human Resources, and Law. All three programs can help you develop the skills you need to ensure that an office operates efficiently.

Minnesota State Community and Technical College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Northeast Community College

Northeast Community College campus

Northeast Community College offers an Administrative Professional Certificate. The program requires 17 credit hours.

Course options include Human Relations and Ethics, Excel Spreadsheet Applications, Introduction to Windows Operating System, and Microsoft Word I. Business English and Administrative Professional Procedures are also available course options.

Northeast Community College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Umpqua Community College

Umpqua Community College campus

Umpqua Community College’s Office Assistant Certificate usually takes one year to complete. This is a convenient, flexible online program with four start dates per year.

It is designed to provide training in basic office skills and business knowledge and can help prepare you for entry-level office positions, such as clerk, receptionist, or office assistant.

Umpqua Community College is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

University of North Georgia

University of North Georgia campus

The University of North Georgia offers an online Administrative Assistant Certificate. It requires five 6 week courses.

The courses are Administrative Assistant Fundamentals, Administrative Assistant Applications, Interpersonal Communication, Writing Essentials, and Building Teams That Work. Each course consists of two lessons per week, on Wednesdays and Fridays.

The University of North Georgia is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Valdosta State University

Valdosta State University campus

Valdosta State University offers an Administrative Assistant Certificate that is entirely online. All courses must be completed within 18 months of starting the program.

Core courses include Administrative Assistant Fundamentals, Computer Skills for the Workplace, Keys to Effective Communication, and Effective Business Writing. Students also choose two electives to complete.

Valdosta State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Getting Your Administrative Assistant Certificate Online

Administrative Assistant Certificate Online

Administrative assistants help offices run smoothly, and executive assistants allow business leaders to focus on their most important responsibilities. You can gain the necessary skills and training for jobs like these by earning an administrative assistant certificate.

If you’re wanting to get into the workforce right away, you may appreciate that it usually takes less than 1 year to finish a certificate program. Even better, you can often take the necessary classes online.

Enrolling in online courses may allow you to complete the curriculum at your own convenience. You can take a look at accredited administrative assistant certificate programs to get started.

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Joy Cromwelle
WRITTEN BY
Joy Cromwelle
Joy is pursuing her Ph.D. in Public Policy & Foreign Policy and holds a Master of Business Administration in Strategic Management, as well as a Bachelor's in Business Administration. Joy's focus is helping non-traditional students find accelerated degree options and credit for prior learning opportunities.