Start Your Career by Becoming an Administrative Assistant

By Robert Half April 5, 2017 at 3:00pm

We all want to start at the top — or as close to it as we can get. Well, what if your first professional job could brought you in contact with company leaders, while also offering rising salaries, increasingly challenging work, and the ability to work in virtually any geography or industry?

That’s what entry level work as an administrative assistant can do. And it’s why it can provide the ideal platform to launch a career.

The jobs of administrative assistants have changed over the last 10 years. As technology increasingly automates the routine tasks they used to do, the work is becoming more varied, challenging and interesting. That gives you a larger chance to show off hidden skills — and hone new ones.

Even if you see admin work as only a stepping stone to something bigger, it’s a great way to build a professional network, learn the ins and outs of an industry, and develop practical skills that can serve you throughout your career, from effective business writing to Excel macros.

Here are six great reasons to consider becoming an administrative assistant:

1. Admin work is becoming more challenging

The typical day of today's admin is rarely dull. You are likely to engage in a wide variety of activities, deal with many different personalities and manage rapidly changing priorities.

In fact, today's administrative professionals are taking on a far wider range of responsibilities than they used to. Work used to be limited largely to typing, filing and answering the telephone. These days, you may find yourself:

  • Managing budgets
  • Providing customer service
  • Making purchasing decisions
  • Planning company events
  • Providing technical training to fellow employees
  • Managing communications with vendors, clients and employees
  • Creating and managing social media
  • Assisting in hiring and recruitment
  • Handling accounting, payroll and HR functions

2. Salaries are on the rise

Employers already struggle to find enough skilled administrative professionals, and demand is expected to increase even further. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 5.6 million total new jobs in office and administrative support positions in the decade before 2024.

According to the 2019 OfficeTeam Salary Guide, the midpoint salary for administrative assistants is $35,750. And perks and benefits are becoming more generous as well.

Midpoint is defined as the salary for candidates with an average level of experience for the position and the necessary skills to meet the job requirements.

The salaries listed in the Salary Guide reflect starting pay and are based on actual placements throughout the United States, as well as an analysis of the supply of talent and other market conditions. Factors that can influence pay levels are company size, industry and location.

Starting salaries vary widely from city to city, so use our Salary Calculator to find out what administrative assistant salaries are offered in your city.

3. You can work pretty much anywhere

No matter where you live (or want to live), employers are likely to be looking for promising administrative assistants. It is the kind of work that cuts across all industries and all geographies. Wherever there are offices of a certain size, talented administration professionals are in demand.

OfficeTeam can help you find a job in cities across the country, and people who work with us, like Rachelle Bejin, have great things to say: "OfficeTeam has made my job search so much easier. I have been placed in some amazing companies, and have received some much needed experience in my field.”

4. You can get your foot in the door of any industry

Just as admin work exists in virtually every geography, it also cuts across virtually every industry. If you want to work in the advertising or travel industry, you can begin with an entry level administrative assistant position while building up your resume.

Once in the door, you can observe the industry firsthand, start to build your professional network and find out if you really want to pursue a career in the field.

5. It can provide lots of job satisfaction

There are many reasons administrative assistants find their work satisfying, from the sheer variety of the tasks they perform to the satisfaction that comes from helping colleagues do their own jobs better.

A survey of more than 2,200 administrative workers by OfficeTeam and the International Association of Administrative Professionals found that support staff roles can be very rewarding, despite — and often because of — increasing responsibilities.

6. There is more upward mobility that you think

Many people think of admin work as a way to make a paycheck while they try to figure out what they really want to do. But the truth is, today’s admins increasingly find themselves taking on the work once performed by so-called middle management.

If you decide to grow within the administrative profession, your options include:

  • Senior executive assistant — Working with the most senior managers can be a fast-paced and rewarding career. Bonus: This position is currently in high demand, and the 2019 midpoint salary is projected to be $61,250
  • Customer service manager — Killer communication and technology skills? Customer service experience? Companies understand the power of excellent customer service and are paying a midpoint salary of $45,250 for customer service managers in 2019.
  • Office manager — If you’re a master coordinator with strong office support management skills, this could be the job for you. The midpoint salary is $44,500 in 2019.
  • Medical coding manager — Healthcare is adding more jobs than any other industry, and if you have experience in coding used by medical practices, hospitals and insurance companies, your specialized skills could get you a midpoint salary of $66,250.

There is no doubt about it. There has never been a more exciting — or lucrative — time to become an administrative professional.

In search of the right administrative assistant position? Read OfficeTeam's tips for landing the job that is right for you.

This post has been updated to reflect more current information.

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