What Is an Administrative Assistant? (With Career Advice)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 7 September 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Office administrative assistants are an important part of any workforce. They perform a variety of clerical and administrative tasks to help managers and other employees succeed in their respective job roles. Learning about their exact role and the value they bring to offices can help you decide if you want to pursue this career path. In this article, we discuss what an administrative assistant is, list their job duties, skills and qualifications and share the steps for how to become one.

What is an administrative assistant?

An administrative assistant is an office support professional who provides clerical support to a company or organisation. This individual often serves as the first point of contact for internal and external parties. Also known as an office manager or office assistant, an administrative assistant plays a crucial role in ensuring a company's smooth operation by providing organisational and administrative assistance to the company's management team.

For instance, these assistants play a pivotal role in educational institutes, finance and insurance companies, medical centres, legal enterprises and other industries with a high volume of paperwork and data organisation requirements. Well-versed with the company's policies, processes and workflows, they usually report to a senior-level manager or the head of the admin department.

Related: What Is an Office Assistant? Definition, Skills and Duties

What are the main duties of an administrative assistant?

To ensure that the office has smooth day-to-day operations, an administrative assistant may complete a variety of tasks. The exact role and duties might vary depending on the company or industry, but here are some of the common responsibilities they may complete:

  • Managing appointment schedules, meetings and travel-related formalities for senior leaders and managers

  • Redirecting queries, documents, phone calls and messages to relevant employees

  • Overseeing all official correspondence and communication, like the company email, memos, mail and other documents

  • Handling documentation, file management, invoicing, basic bookkeeping and database management

  • Producing reports, presentations and minutes of meetings

  • Greeting visitors, guests, candidates and clients that visit the office and assisting them

  • Ensuring timely maintenance of office devices, network and other assets

  • Supporting the senior leadership in implementing engagement activities, like team events and off-site visits

  • Helping the HR team with onboarding new employees and assisting them with training new hires, ensuring compliance and other joining formalities

  • Managing office inventory, supplies and other everyday office deliveries

What is the average salary of an administrative assistant?

The average salary of an administrative assistant is ₹ 2,23,894 per year. However, depending on your location, qualification and experience, you can earn a higher salary. For instance, the average salary for a senior administrative assistant is ₹3,83,877 per year, while the estimated salary for a senior administrative assistant in Gurgaon, Haryana is ₹ 5,00,253 per year.

What are the top skills of an administrative assistant?

You may use a mix of hard and soft skills to succeed in the role of an administrative assistant:

  • Digital skills: expertise in Microsoft Office and other tools for invoicing, bookkeeping and accounting

  • Supply and inventory management: knowledge of inventory and utility supply, alongside vendor management

  • Communication: the ability to communicate clearly in both verbal and written forms

  • Problem-solving: having an eye for detail to find innovative solutions to routine challenges

  • Time management: scheduling, prioritising and planning tasks for multiple people

  • Linguistic diversity: being proficient in more than one language

  • Adaptability: managing different situations, unanticipated challenges and a variety of people

  • Organisation: the ability to organise random processes, documents and schedules

What qualifications do you need to be an administrative assistant?

Although there are no universally accepted qualifications for administrative assistants, an employer may seek the following qualifications:

Educational qualification

Most government institutes and companies require a bachelor's degree in any subject. They may also have a minimum qualifying grade. Private companies usually accept candidates with senior secondary qualifications, provided they have relevant certifications or experience. If you have completed your bachelor's or master's in business administration, it can be an additional benefit during your job search.

Training and certifications

Special diploma courses and certifications that help develop technical skills, such as expertise in MS Office and other business tools, are beneficial. Similarly, certifications in global languages can give you an edge over other candidates. These are optional but could help you qualify for an advanced or competitive role.

Experience

Most companies prefer candidates who have worked in the same industry. This can help them find candidates with the required knowledge and skills. This may also mean that the candidate is aware of the industry's best practices, terms and processes.

Can anyone become an administrative assistant?

If you have completed your senior secondary education and have the right skills and attitude, you can build a successful career as an administrative assistant. You may learn the important skills for this role through training and practice. Most training certifications and diploma courses for administrative assistants are easily available in the market and are also affordable.

However, it is best to complete your bachelor's degree to be eligible for more administrative assistant jobs. Also, you may gain experience in the same industry to progress rapidly and gain relevant industry knowledge.

Related: What Is a Virtual Assistant? (Definition, Responsibilities and Skills)

Administrative assistant work environment

These professionals work in a variety of office settings with the following characteristics:

  • Sitting at a desk for extended periods of time

  • Using computers, printers, fax machines and other common office equipment

  • Communicating regularly with other internal administrative staff

  • Facilitating communication between external parties

  • Monitoring the shipping and arrival of vendor deliveries

The skills, qualities and experience of administrative assistants are often transferable to a variety of industries. These administrative professionals commonly offer their support in the following industries:

  • Businesses and corporations

  • Government agencies

  • Education, including primary schools and higher education institutions

  • Nonprofit organisations

  • Research science and healthcare organisations

How to become an administrative assistant

To become an administrative assistant, you must pursue the right education, build the right skills and gain relevant experience. Here are the steps to follow:

1. Get the right education

Before beginning your administrative assistant career, you can complete your senior secondary education (10+2). Also, consider earning a relevant bachelor's degree with high grades. For instance, employers often prefer candidates with a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) or Bachelor of Arts in business or a related field, such as finance.

2. Develop your skills

Consider enrolling in short-term training courses or diploma certification programmes. This can help you develop interpersonal skills, such as communication and organisation. You can also develop technical skills, such as administration, documentation and project management skills.

3. Gain professional experience

Consider gaining relevant work experience through internships, part-time or entry-level jobs. You may pursue these while obtaining your degree or certifications or after. This can help you earn a competitive position and further develop your technical skills.

4. Prepare your CV

Consider creating a new CV that highlights your education, strengths, skills and experience. Make sure your work experience section includes details of your past jobs, including the company name, the dates you worked there. You may also add a summary of your responsibilities, contributions and achievements.

Related: How To Write Work Experience on Your CV

5. Apply for relevant jobs

Select positions you are qualified for based on required years of experience as well as level and type of education. This step can ensure you optimise your job search and find the right role for your goals. It may also increase the likelihood that employers contact you for an interview.

Administrative assistant job description examples

Here are a few examples of job descriptions for administrative assistant positions to help you learn more about the role:

General example

Here is an example showing a general administrative assistant role:

We are seeking an expert multi-tasker, communicator and problem-solver for the role of administrative assistant at our company. The candidate is responsible for various administrative and clerical support tasks to ensure the smooth functioning of our daily office activities. The candidate assists the senior leadership of the company, answering phone calls and writing emails on their behalf.

Candidates must have a bachelor's degree, a few technical certifications that prove their proficiency in using digital productivity tools and two to three years of work experience. We prefer applicants who have proficiency in multiple languages. Previous experience as a secretary, assistant or receptionist is desirable.

Industry-specific example

This example is for an administrative assistant in a specific industry:

Subhash Chandra Vidyapith is looking for an administrative assistant with at least five years of work experience in a school or educational institution. The responsibilities include providing clerical support to the principal and the department heads. This includes creating electronic and physical filing systems, supporting event management activities, coordinating between different departments, managing daily meetings and calendars, providing technical assistance and managing the office.

We prefer candidates with knowledge of MS Office. We expect candidates to demonstrate the highest level of professionalism and commitment to quality.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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