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Administrative Assistant

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(5.8 out of 10)

Number of Jobs


Median Salary


Unemployment Rate

6.2 percent

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The 100 Best Jobs #79

Some administrative assistants can really be classified as administrative professionals. They fill diverse roles as office managers, event planners, operations managers and even maintenance workers – often having unique job descriptions based on the needs of their employer. In some industries, getting the job can require extensive interviewing and testing, but in any such role, organization, respect, problem-solving skills, resourcefulness and responsibility are essential. Administrative assistants often find themselves wearing many hats and juggling tasks. They're often tasked with keeping track of budgets and ensuring all departments adhere to the funds they've been allocated. At times, they're enlisted as project managers, a role which requires advanced organization and planning skills. While executive assistants mostly engage with a company's higher-ups, administrative assistants provide support at all levels of an organization.

By 2022, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects employment for administrative assistants will grow by 15.7 percent. While there were more than 2 million administrative assistants in 2012, the BLS reports an additional 308,000 positions will need to be filled in the next decade.


Administrative assistants earned a median salary of $32,410 in 2012, according to the BLS. The best-paid made approximately $48,520 a year, while the worst-paid made about $20,230. The highest earners worked in the metropolitan areas of Trenton, N.J., San Francisco and Oakland, Calif.

Salary Range

75th Percentile $40,360
Median $32,410
25th Percentile $25,650


While college degrees aren't required, many employers seek assistants with college degrees, and certifications can be a plus. Just as the tasks have evolved, the number of certifications, programs, webinars, seminars and professional organizations for administrative assistants have grown. Learning in a real-world work environment is also key. "On-the-job training is the best training," says Kricia Romero, an administrative assistant for the Criminal Investigations Division of the Fort Collins Police Services in Colorado. For her job, Romero underwent an extensive training process. "You learn a lot of programs, specifically law enforcement programs, and the office politics can be an eye opener," Romero says. For nearly any administrative assistant, good writing and verbal communication skills are required, as well as experience with Word processing and spreadsheets. These skills can be acquired through high school vocational programs, one- to two-year office administration programs (offered at business or technology schools) or even training programs provided by temporary placement agencies.

Reviews & Advice

Aspiring assistants may jump through different hoops to get hired. Some job offers may come after a brief interview, while others may require tests to demonstrate ability. Sonya Ford, office and special manager at the Carnegie Mellon Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, says when considering new administrative assistants to hire she looks for someone who's reliable, a self-starter and "can anticipate things before they happen." In addition to good communication skills, she says computer knowledge is a bonus. Romero’s path to her job began with a typing test, a background check, a psychological test followed by the interview. "It was 150 applicants, so I was happy to be selected as the chosen one," she says. Romero recommends that aspiring assistants stay ahead of the technology curve, be self-motivated, take initiative and be willing to bend, but not break.

Job Satisfaction

Upward Mobility good Above Average
Stress Level fair Average
Flexibility fair Average
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Last updated by Evan Taylor.

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