If you’re looking to jumpstart your career in office management, you may want to consider earning an associates degree in administrative assistant.
As businesses continue to scale and grow, they continue to look for strong candidates in this field. Throughout your program, you can learn crucial office management skills, such as bookkeeping, business communication, and computer software skills.
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Upon completing an administrative assistant associate degree, graduates often emerge as competitive candidates for various types of office administration positions.
Online Associates in Administrative Assistant Degrees
An administrative assistant associates degree can help equip you with the necessary tools for office administration. For this field, it’s also helpful to have strong communication and organizational skills.
A typical associate’s degree takes around 2 years to complete. You can expect coursework to cover practical administrative skills, such as record management, accounting, bookkeeping, and using common computer software.
While the majority of coursework can be done in an online setting, certain programs may supplement the classroom experience with required work experience, such as an internship. This can be beneficial to many students, as it addresses the challenge of how to become an administrative assistant with no experience.
In addition, certain sectors may call for administrative assistants with additional background in certain areas. For instance, law offices and hospitals may prefer candidates with concentrations in legal administrative assistance and medical administrative assistance respectively.
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Graduates with an associate degree in administrative assistant studies most commonly go on to work in the following positions:
- Administrative assistant
- Executive assistant
- Office receptionist
- Office clerk
Legal administrative assistance specialists often become legal assistants. Similarly, medical administrative assistance specialists can become medical receptionists or health information technicians.
Outside of these traditional administrative roles, some graduates may also find work as customer service representatives, transcriptionists, and travel agents.
Administrative Assistant Careers & Salaries
An associate’s degree in administrative assistant can open the door to entry-level positions in many office assistant roles. Entry-level assistant roles can include receptionists and secretaries as well as more specialized roles in law and medicine.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here are the median salaries for some of the most common admin assistant jobs as well as related occupations.
|Careers||Annual Median Salaries|
|Executive Secretaries and Executive Administrative Assistants||$63,110|
|Legal Secretaries and Administrative Assistants||$48,980|
|Medical Records and Health Information Technicians||$44,090|
|Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerks||$42,410|
|Secretaries and Administrative Assistants||$38,850|
|Medical Secretaries and Administrative Assistants||$37,350|
|General Office Clerks||$35,330|
Salaries for administrative assistants vary depending on the sector. Executive secretaries tend to earn the most, followed by legal assistants, general administrative assistants, and medical secretaries. The median salary for all secretaries and administrative assistants combined is $40,990 (Bureau of Labor Statistics).
Jobs in specific sectors are expected to see job growth over the next ten years. For instance, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that medical secretaries and administrative assistants will grow 10% through 2029.
Administrative Assistant Curriculum & Courses
The curriculum at various administrative assistant schools will vary, but they’ll include a mix of general education classes and specialized coursework, such as the following:
- Keyboarding: This course focuses on essential typing skills needed to succeed as an administrative assistant, including keyboard shortcuts, document formatting, and improving overall typing speed and accuracy.
- Word Processing: This course teaches the basics on how to use modern word processing software, such as Microsoft Word.
- Spreadsheets: This course covers usage of popular spreadsheet software, such as Microsoft Excel, including how to properly add charts and functions.
- Principles of Accounting: You’ll learn the basics of accounting, including how to read financial statements, calculating compound interest, and the tax system.
- Principles of Bookkeeping: This course covers how to properly record business transactions, handle payroll, and prepare financial reports.
- Record Management: You’ll study how to properly organize and protect both hard physical files as well as digital files in database systems.
- Business Writing: An essential skill for any professional, business writing introduces effective composition and communication in memos, such as work emails or reports.
- Desktop Publishing: You’ll learn how to use computer software to create different forms of media, such as business presentations, brochures, and business cards.
- Business Office Management: This course explains how to provide support in scenarios you’re likely to face on the job, including scheduling appointments, arranging travel, and transcription techniques.
- Event Planning: This course covers end-to-end event planning logistics for common functions in the workplace.
All these courses focus on different aspects of admin assistance, the major ones being computer skills, bookkeeping, and effective business communication. With these skills, you may be well-equipped to handle typical duties as an administrative assistant.
How to Choose an Associate’s Degree Program in Administrative Assistant Studies
To pick the best administrative assistant associate’s degree program for you, you may want to consider the following factors:
- Online vs. on-campus. Online programs are often more flexible. Besides possible internships, much of the coursework required in a typical program can be learned in an online setting, so you don’t have to limit your search to only in-person programs.
- Concentration. Are you looking to break into a certain field, such as law, medical assistance, or education? Certain administrative assistant associate degrees have specialized concentrations in these areas, so you may want to verify that prospective schools have the concentration you’re looking for..
- Long-term career goals. An associates degree can enable you to quickly enter the workforce and gain some practical experience. If you may want to pursue a bachelor’s degree in the future, you might consider associate programs with more general education course offerings. You may be able to transfer those credits later on.
- Accreditation. It’s beneficial to ensure that the program and school you’re considering are accredited. An accredited degree is widely recognized by employers and institutions alike.
You can try to narrow your search down to your top five programs based on these considerations.
Admission to an associates degree in administrative assistant program will generally require the following materials:
- High school diploma or GED. Just about any program will require a high school diploma or GED with an accompanying transcript.
- Application. Some programs have their own application process while others may use the Common App. You may be required to provide your high school academic work history as well as personal statement essays.
- SAT or ACT. Certain programs require standardized testing scores for placement, but a growing number of programs now waive this requirement.
There is also usually a fee associated with submitting an application.
When considering different associate degrees, it can be strategic to only consider regionally accredited programs. A regionally accredited institution meets a high educational bar and helps ensure the quality of its programs.
Obtaining an associate degree from an accredited school can instill trust in future employers about your qualifications. Accreditation can also be beneficial down the road, such as helping determine whether any credits you take during an associates degree can be transferred to a bachelors degree later on.
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To find out which schools and programs are accredited, you can visit the Council for Higher Education Accreditation’s list of organizations.
Financial Aid and Scholarships
An associate’s degree is often less financially demanding than most bachelors degrees, but the cost can still add up when considering costs like tuition, housing, and textbooks. To help pay for school, there may be financial aid and scholarship opportunities available to you if you qualify.
Scholarships are typically the first option you may want to research, as they are rewards that you don’t need to pay back. Certain programs have resources available to guide you towards merit-based scholarships, which may look at your high school GPA and other achievements.
After applying to scholarships, you can also consider applying for federal or state financial aid. You can start by submitting your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), to see if you’re eligible for loans or grants. If you continue on to pursue a bachelor’s degree in the future, you will be able to apply via the FAFSA again.
Administrative Assistant Professional Organizations
If you’re serious about your career development, joining a professional organization can help provide valuable networking opportunities.
- American Society of Administrative Professionals (ASAP)
- Association of Executive and Administrative Professionals (AEAP)
- International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP)
Being a part of a professional organization can also allow you to learn about the industry through professional and social events. This can be a beneficial way to supplement your learning experience outside of the classroom.
What Is an Administrative Assistant?
An administrative assistant is someone who helps perform clerical and organizational duties in the office. They may directly support employees, greet guests at reception, or report directly to managers and executives.
Effective administrative assistants generally need good verbal and written communication skills as well as knowledge on how to use office computer software and equipment. Many administrative assistants specialize in certain areas and have special job titles, such as legal or medical administrative assistants.
What Does an Administrative Assistant Do?
Typical duties for an administrative assistant include scheduling appointments, making travel arrangements, and keeping office supplies in stock. Administrative assistants can also be the first ones to answer phone calls and redirect them to the appropriate party.
Administrative assistants are needed in just about every industry. Most commonly, they’ll find work at a corporation, government agency, educational institution, or nonprofit organization. The top earners tend to be executive administrative assistants, who report directly to directors and executives.
What Degree Should I Get for Administrative Assistant?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, high school graduates can often qualify for entry-level administrative assistant positions. Pursuing an associate’s degree in administrative assistant, though, may make you a much stronger candidate.
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For specializations, such as legal and medical secretaries, an associates degree is usually required to prove that you’ve learned how to handle specific job functions in these fields. As an alternative, some legal secretaries continue to work while also enrolling in one of the ABA approved paralegal programs that a number of colleges offer and become paralegals, which often leads to higher salaries.
If you want to eventually become an executive assistant, many employers may prefer candidates with an associate or bachelors degree.
What Can You Do with an Associate’s Degree in Administrative Assistant?
After obtaining an associates degree, graduates tend to enter industry as an administrative assistant. You could also pursue a position as a general office clerk at a corporation or government agency, or you may want to work as a more specialized bookkeeper or transcriptionist.
Upon gaining a few years of work experience, you may start to qualify for higher executive assistant positions. An associate degree can also create a solid foundation for returning to school to pursue a bachelor’s degree to further develop in your career.
What Other Jobs Can Administrative Assistants Do?
Besides the traditional path of becoming an administrative assistant, there are a few other adjacent job positions to consider.
One option can be to further your training to become a court reporter or simultaneous captioner, both of which rely heavily on transcription skills. It is also possible to utilize your business communication skills to pursue a sales position, such as a travel agent.
Some administrative assistants become project managers for different businesses, especially after a few years in industry.
How Much Do Administrative Assistants Make?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median wage for secretaries and administrative assistants is $40,990, with the top 10% earning more than $67,510.
It’s important to note that the median salary for administrative assistants differs depending on the specific industry. For instance, executive secretaries and administrative assistants tend to earn more, with a median salary of $63,110.
Secretaries and administrative assistants in professional, scientific, and technical services earn a median salary of $46,990. Similar positions in healthcare and social assistance have a median salary of $38,060.
What’s the Difference Between an Administrative Assistant vs. Secretary?
You may hear the titles administrative assistant and secretary used interchangeably. While their duties can overlap, there are some subtle differences between the two.
- Administrative assistant: This role usually has more responsibilities, which may include event planning, creating meeting agendas, and preparing and presenting reports.
- Secretary: This role has a larger focus on clerical duties, such as bookkeeping, data entry, scheduling meetings, and arranging travel.
To summarize, secretaries are often more focused on making sure the day-to-day logistics of the work day go smoothly. Administrative assistants often have a lot of the same duties, but they may also have more responsibility in the business operations themselves.
What’s the Difference Between an Administrative Assistant vs. Executive Assistant?
After working for a few years, administrative assistants may qualify for executive assistant roles. Here’s how their typical duties can differ.
- Administrative assistant: Administrative assistants support a business as a whole through clerical and operational tasks.
- Executive assistant: While many of their job functions remain the same, executive assistants directly support top executives at an organization and may even manage clerical teams.
So, executive assistants tend to have more duties, as they are often the first point of contact for issues intended for top executives.
Is an Associates Degree in Administrative Assistant Worth It?
Yes, an associates degree in administrative assistant is worth it for many students. Administrative assistant training is a strategic way to develop professional skills, kick-start your career, and learn about the daily operations of different organizations.
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An administrative assistant associate’s degree can open the door to many new job opportunities without having to invest a full 4 years into a bachelors degree. Companies are always looking for clerical support as they scale up, so now may be a good time to capitalize on earning your associate’s degree.
Universities Offering Online Administrative Assistant Associates Degree 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.
Barton Community College offers an Associate in Business Administrative Technology. Students must obtain 64 credit hours to graduate, and the program can usually be completed in 2 years.
Barton Community College is an open-admissions institution. This allows most students to be immediately accepted to their program of choice once they complete the application process.
Barton County Community College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Chippewa Valley Technical College offers an Executive Assistant Associate degree. The program typically takes 2 years to complete, and 60 credits are needed to graduate. Students may transfer in qualifying credits from prior work, certificates, or apprenticeships.
The school offers open access admission, which means that applicants don’t have to complete an entrance exam.
Chippewa Valley Technical College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
City College of San Francisco offers an Associate in Administrative Support and Office Technology. Students must complete 62 credits over the course of 4 semesters to graduate.
To be eligible, applicants must meet one of these requirements: be 18 years old, have a high school diploma, GED, or equivalent, or have 120 high school credits and submit a consent form.
City College of San Francisco is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
Jamestown Community College offers an Administrative Professional Associate degree that can be completed online. Interested applicants need to apply online and must submit high school transcripts.
Students can usually obtain the 60 credits needed to graduate in 2 years, including an internship in the final year. Students may choose between business or health information technology elective credits.
Jamestown Community College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Mid Michigan College offers an Administrative Assistant Professional Associate degree. Students may choose to add a specialization for General Businesses, Legal Offices, or Medical Offices. A total of 64 credits are needed to graduate.
Applicants must send in official transcripts and test scores if they have graduated high school in the past 3 years. All others must complete placement examinations.
Mid Michigan College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Minnesota West Community and Technical College offers an Administrative Assistant Associate degree. To graduate, students must complete 60 credits. Students may also be able to gain credits from previous work, education, or life experience. To be eligible for the program, applicants must have either a high school degree or an equivalent.
Minnesota West Community and Technical College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Northeast Community College offers an Administrative Professional Associate degree. Students must complete both an internship and at least 64 credits to graduate. To be eligible for the program, applicants must submit transcripts from high school and any other institutes attended as well as ACT or SAT scores.
Northeast Community College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Northwest Technical College offers an Administrative Assistant Associate degree. A total of 60 credits are needed to graduate, with 8 credits open for a business elective.
Applicants interested in attending Northwest Technical College must complete an online application. They also need to submit high school transcripts and transcripts from any other colleges attended.
Northwest Technical College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Palo Alto College offers an Administrative Assistant Associate degree. The program requires students to complete 60 credit hours to graduate.
To be eligible for the program, interested applicants must apply online and submit transcripts from their high school and any other institute they have attended. TSI assessment tests and 2 college readiness testing modules in ACES must be completed after applying.
Palo Alto College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College offers an Administrative Coordinator Associate degree. The program requires 60 credits and usually takes 2 years to complete.
Applicants must finish an application and submit it and a small fee to the college. Once the application has been submitted, the applicant must schedule an admissions meeting with a counselor from the school to discuss their goals.
Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Getting Your Associates Degree in Administrative Assistant Studies Online
An associates degree in administrative assistant can help prepare you for a professional career in the field of office and administrative support.
There are many programs out there that can cater to your interests or desired specialization. Upon completing the program, you may have access to increased job opportunities and the potential to advance in your career.
Online program options are known for being flexible, often allowing you to complete your degree more quickly or more slowly, according to your own schedule. If you’re ready to start off on the path toward administrative assistant studies, you can begin exploring different accredited universities today.