If you are looking for a career in the Administrative field, you probably have realized by now that there is not just one level of assistant. There are many different types of administrative support positions. While they are in the same field, sometimes the different titles can mean different job duties, and even the salaries can vary greatly.
While this list isn't set in stone, use it as a general guideline of what to expect when you see these titles. Also keep in mind the type of company you are interviewing with; a receptionist at a small family-owned business may be required to do many more duties than a receptionist at a global corporation. Read the job description carefully and ask questions in the interview to make sure the position is the right fit for you.
Administrative Assistant Job Descriptions
Receptionist – indicates that this person is the 'face' of the company. This is the person who answers phones and greets people as they come in. They may be required to do some data entry and reporting in addition to answering phones and keeping track of visitors to the company. Very important to have excellent customer service skills, as this person is usually the first impression that someone new to the company will have.
Office Assistant – an entry-level administrative position. Will be required to know software applications and need to have good typing skills, but they don't need to be advanced. Sometimes the office assistant backs up the receptionist or the position can be combined. Data entry, filing, organizing, and general office duties will be the types of tasks expected from an Office Assistant.
Administrative Assistant/Administrative Secretary – A mid-level position requiring some experience. This is the title that runs the gamut; some Administrative Assistants need 3-5 years of experience with only intermediate skills, while others can require up to 10 years of experience with top-notch skills. Admin Assistants usually report to a manager of a group but supports the entire group. Job duties include meeting setup and coordination, reporting, presentations, correspondence, and booking travel. Depending on the company, other duties can include sales support, customer service, accounting duties, and more complex organizing/filing systems.
Office Manager – different from an Administrative Assistant as this person does just what the title suggests…manages the office. Office Mangers usually act as bookkeepers, handle facility and logistic maintenance, work with vendors, and just about anything else that is required to keep the company running smoothly. Office Managers usually work for smaller companies and may be required to train or supervise other employees.
Executive Assistant – this title really depends on the kind of company you work for. For large corporations, the Executive Assistant supports the top executives. For smaller companies, it may be the president or owner of the company. Executive Assistants usually only support one or two people, are required to handle sensitive and confidential information, and at times handle personal tasks for the boss. They are the top-of-the-line assistants and require 10 or more years of experience.
In the past, Administrative Support positions usually didn't require degrees or a certain amount of education. Years of experience and/or a high school diploma or GED were enough to get hired. These days, however, that has changed. It is becoming more and more common for Administrative Assistants, Office Managers, and Executive Assistants to have Associates or Bachelor degrees, especially if they only have a few years of experience. This is due to the more complex nature of these jobs.
Having an Administrative Support job can be a rewarding and challenging career. The technology and job requirements are constantly changing. It is not a boring job and no two days are ever the same!