Administrative Assistant Job Description: Duties, Skills, Responsibilities

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What Does an Administrative Assistant Do?

Administrative Assistant job description

An administrative assistant is a person who performs administrative duties in a public or private company or organization. Administrative assistants play an essential role in all kinds of administrative offices (e.g. in private businesses, legal firms, medical practices, public offices, schools and hospitals). Their specific duties vary according to the size and type of company or organization they work for.

So, what does and administrative assistant do, exactly?

Most of the duties of an administrative assistant (who will typically report to an administrative manager) are connected with the documentation a company produces as part of its normal daily activities.

Administrative assistants are responsible for creating and editing documents, data entry, filing and archiving documents, dossiers, records and reports and ensuring that all administrative procedures and formalities are completed correctly and on time. Administrative assistants are also responsible for performing a range of clerical and secretarial duties in accordance with company procedures, e.g. distributing post, handling inbound and outbound telephone calls, drafting documents and letters, scheduling meetings and appointments, managing diaries and organizing business trips for colleagues and superiors. They also provide support and assistance to colleagues with any administrative problems that may arise.

In addition to the above, an administrative assistants may also be required to provide support and assistance to the sales department. For example, the duties of a sales administrative assistant may include processing client orders and managing suppliers using business management applications such as SAP, preparing proposals for the sales team, dealing with requests from customers and creating sales presentations - in other words similar duties to those performed by a sales back office team.

Administrative Assistants working in administration and accounts, on the other hand, will also be responsible for handling sales and purchase invoices, assisting with the preparation of the company’s financial statements in accordance with the applicable regulations and standards, handling the payment of taxes, duties and other related expenses and carrying out all the administrative tasks necessary to ensure the company’s accounting records are accurate and correct, in compliance with company procedures. A more accurate title for jobs involving duties of this nature is accounting administrative assistant.

In smaller companies where there is a lack of dedicated staff, administrative assistants may also be assigned duties that would normally be done by other areas - for example human resources-related duties, such as carrying out administrative tasks related to holidays, illness and maternity.

Administrative assistants may be full-time or part-time, depending on company requirements and may be hired directly or through a temporary work agency.

Duties, Responsibilities and Tasks

Administrative Assistant tasks and responsibilities

The main daily tasks and primary responsibilities of an administrative assistant include:

  • Completing administrative procedures and paperwork in accordance with deadlines
  • Creating and editing documents
  • Data entry
  • Filing paper and/or electronic documentation
  • Scheduling meetings and appointments and managing diaries
  • General secretarial and clerical tasks

Administrative assistants must make sure that they carry out all their tasks and duties in accordance with company procedures and the applicable legislation.

How to Become an Administrative Assistant: Education, Training and Requirements

How to become Administrative Assistant - Training

There are no set requirements to become an administrative assistant, although some form of business, administration or management-related qualification or training is likely to prove an advantage. 

Depending on the type of company, in addition to standard administrative, secretarial and clerical tasks, the job may also involve dealing with documentation or performing tasks of financial, accounting or legal nature, so a knowledge of these areas may form part of the requirements.

An administrative assistant needs to be familiar with the regulations concerning administrative procedures, particularly when dealing with public bodies, should be able to use standard office equipment, such as telephone systems and switchboards, videoconferencing technology, faxes, printers and photocopiers etc., and should possess the IT skills needed to create and edit spreadsheets and documents, manage archives and databases and use other key software applications (e.g. business management applications such as SAP).

Previous experience as an administrative assistant in an accounting, sales, secretarial or similar role (e.g. back office, or data entry) will generally be an advantage.

Administrative Assistant Skills and Qualifications

Administrative Assistant skills and competencies

Job adverts for administrative assistants usually indicate a wide range of professional skills and personal qualities. Some of the most important include:

  • Administrative skills
  • Up-to-date knowledge of relevant regulations and administrative procedures
  • Familiarity with the main IT tools, systems and management applications
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills - e.g. for handling emails/post and telephone calls
  • Accurate, orderly and attentive to detail
  • Organizational abilities
  • Ability to set priorities and comply with deadlines
  • Flexibility and problem-solving skills
  • Patience and reliability

Career Path

Administrative Assistant career path

The career of an administrative assistant typically involves moving on to a position of greater responsibility after some time in the role, for example becoming an office manager or administrative manager. But as a worker in an all-round role, administrative assistants also have the option of acquiring specific skills related to a particular area, such as accounting, payroll or human resources management, and transferring to a different department within the same company or organization.

An alternative career option is to focus on the clerical and secretarial aspects of the job as a personal assistant or executive assistant.

Top Reasons to Work as an Administrative Assistant

The main advantage of working as an administrative assistant are the fixed working hours. The job is suited to highly organized people with strong attention to detail and represents an excellent springboard for a career in the administration department of a private company or public body. Finally, since almost every organization needs administrative assistants, job vacancies are plentiful in all geographical areas.

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