What does an administrative assistant do?

Administrative assistants ensure that the everyday running of a business goes smoothly, acting as the first point of contact for enquiries and visitors, prioritising workflow, managing incoming and outgoing mail and composing reports, correspondence and office memos. A high level of organisation, coupled with a can-do attitude and the ability to multitask will take you a long way in an administrative assistant role.

Tasks:

  • Compose letters, reports and office memos
  • Archive and manage important documents
  • Sort and distribute incoming mail
  • Attend to the needs of customers, visitors, and staff
  • Perform banking and payroll functions

What skills do I need to be an administrative assistant?

Excellent people skills are a must for this job as administrative assistants often work in large, multinational companies and may come into contact with demanding clients and stakeholders. Because of this, you’ll need to be an expert in workplace organisation and communications. You need to be focused and methodical in your work with an attention to detail in everything you do.

Skills/attributes
  • Aptitude for team work
  • Neat personal appearance
  • Excellent oral communication skills
  • Excellent written communication skills
  • Ability to work methodically, neatly, and accurately

Specialisations

The job is an excellent starting point towards other positions such as office administrator, record keeper, or front-line manager. The tasks and responsibilities become larger and more complex as you accumulate skills and workplace savvy. 

Office Administrator

They are responsible for the supervising, hiring and training of new administrative assistants and other staff. The office administrators oversee, to varying degrees, the systems and processes of office administration in a business. They often are responsible for the management of human resources, budgets, accommodation and property facilities and records.

Record keeper

Record or book keepers keep tabs on the financial transactions of a business and are a crucial part of the management process. They help arrange payments, receive and record invoices, and they distribute wages and salaries. They serve as a line of defence for the business, keeping a sharp eye on customers’ credit ratings, verifying transactions, and reporting irregularities to management.

Front-line manager

This specialty requires very high interpersonal and technical skills, and is part of the management team. They assign tasks that are the bread and butter of a company’s daily activity. Like office administrators, they ensure quality of work, make recommendations, and provide technical expertise. Unlike other management levels, the front-line manager is actively involved in operations of a business and have a very practical knowledge of the business.

Study pathways for administrative assistants

While no formal training is needed to become an administrative assistant, there are some training and vocational courses that will give you the head start you need in the industry and prepare you for further career progression.

Getting Started

Kick start a career in administration by studying one of these courses.

Skill Building

Build your skills and develop your career in administration

Professional Development

Increase your professional standing and formalise your skill set

Industry Recognition

Joining a professional association may help you find more employment opportunities as an office manager or administrator in the future.

Getting a job after graduation

Put your training to good use and get the best professional head start in your administration career. Emphasise your personal strengths and achievements in your resume and target your cover letter to the job description listed.

Job Prospects and Salaries

Qualified and experienced administrative staff are in demand across a range of different industries.