In a previous article I wrote about the clerical skills every Administrative Assistant must have. In this article I would like to focus on typing.

Typing is probably one of the most important skills any support position should have. The ability to type not only quickly but accurately is very important. Administrative Assistant jobs are usually fast-paced, so there is no room for a typing learning curve; you must begin the job already knowing how to type.

There are many resources on the Internet to help improve your typing skills. A Google search for "Free Typing Lessons" will reveal some fairly good sites that include typing games. The first page results have the most quality sites. Check them out and find one that works for you. Also look for the ability to test your 'words per minute' (wpm) along with how many errors are made when testing. Or, if you just want to practice on your own, fire up your favorite word processing software, text editor, or notepad on your computer and type the following sentences:

  • The quick sly fox jumped over the lazy brown dog.

  • It is now time for all good men to come to the aid of their country.

The first sentence is good practice because it allows you to type every letter of the alphabet. The second sentence helps you practice words and letters most commonly used. Type these repeatedly a few minutes a day and watch your skills improve and your wpm increase!

And speaking of words per minute, there are some guidelines when it comes to your typing abilities. If you are just starting out as an Administrative Assistant or any other clerical or data entry position, the general rule is to be able to type around 35 wpm. If you are an intermediate or more advanced Administrative Assistant, your goal is to be able to type at least 70 wpm. If you are just starting out, be sure to continue to practice your typing as you advance in your career. Don't forget that accuracy is just as important as speed!

As far as job placement goes, most companies who are looking to hire Administrative Assistants, Clerks, or Data Entry positions, will want to test your typing skills. Applying for these jobs are very different from applying for other types of jobs. Most jobs they will either verify references to determine a person's ability or request college transcripts to prove they have a degree and what their grades were. Not so for support type positions! They want proven knowledge you can do what your resume says. Most Human Resources departments and recruiting/temp agencies have software that will test you on your typing skills. It is usually a timed test where you are given a paragraph to type. The test is based on how fast you type and how many errors you make during the time frame. Most tests will allow for a few practice runs first.

Typing is no longer only a valuable skill for Administrative Assistants. In today's world of electronic files and cyberspace, everyone can benefit from fast and efficient typing. But for Administrative Assistants, it is one of the most critical skills.