what does an administrative assistant do?

  • job profiles
  • September 02, 2020

Today’s administrative assistants are many things at once: gatekeepers, mind-readers, tactical problem-solvers, occasional disciplinarians — and more. Not surprisingly, their essential duties are equally various. As the first point of contact via phone or email with partners, vendors or clients, they can signal important information about the mission, culture and organizational soundness of a company, for example. And as schedulers who hold people accountable for meetings and other deadlines (and check in when things get missed), they can wield considerable authority as well.

Taking something like a 30,000-foot view, the key responsibilities for today’s top administrative assistants (the role is occasionally referred to as “office manager,” “operations administrator” or even “executive assistant” on job boards) include:

  • carrying out various clerical and administrative tasks
  • drafting and distributing correspondence
  • performing data entry, managing and syncing calendars and answering phone calls and emails
  • supporting executive team members
  • providing cross-coverage for team members as needed
  • filling out essential paperwork and documentation, such as expense reports or reimbursement requests
  • preparing and proofreading memos and correspondence
  • consistently multitasking to support team needs
  • coordinating logistical requests

how do you become an administrative assistant?

Are you an aspiring administrative assistant eager to land the ideal opportunity? If so, we recommend:

  • checking out the latest openings on job boards
  • signing up with a staffing firm that can proactively identify relevant positions based on your interests and experience — and if you want, these hiring pros will even email new opportunities directly to your inbox the minute they become available

Finally, if you want to add new skills to your wheelhouse, the good news is that there are plenty of great resources that you can take advantage of right now. Check out the most relevant coursework for administrative assistants and other resources on Udemy, our learning partner and the world's largest online learning platform. It’s a great place to get started.

what are the key skills of an administrative assistant?

Success as an administrative assistant depends on having a bevy of highly in-demand soft skills. That’s why, as you begin to put your resume together and apply for jobs, you should be sure to call attention to soft skills like:

  • analytical thinking
  • multitasking
  • teamwork
  • collaboration
  • attentiveness to detail
  • written and verbal communication skills
  • time management
  • organization
  • emotional intelligence (EQ)

Effectively highlight these and you’ll be a shoe-in for your next administrative assistant role.

how much does an administrative assistant make?

Looking at the most recent compensation data, average hourly wages for administrative assistants can be bucketed into three tiers, depending on a number of factors, including your location, market, responsibilities and level of expertise, as follows:

  • low $18.34
  • mid $21.24
  • high $24.42

Annualized, average salaries for office/administrative assistants follow a similar distribution:

  • low $38,147
  • mid $44,179
  • high $50,794

Finally, if you’re keen to get even more detailed information about compensation in your location or market, you should take advantage of our free salary comparison tool. It’ll give you all the inside intelligence about compensation you could possibly need.

key takeaways

We've covered all of the ins and outs of daily work for your average administrative assistant in some detail at this point. Hopefully, you have a pretty clear idea of what to expect in the role, as well as the next steps to pursue if you're looking to break out in this field.

A quick recap of what we've covered:

  • what administrative assistants do
  • training, previous experience and core requirements frequently associated with the role
  • essential skills for success
  • salary expectations for administrative assistants
  • … and a whole lot more!

What happens next is up to you, of course, but if you feel like you’re ready to make the next step in your career, why not start searching for administrative assistant jobs?