Updated June, 2021.
If you’re considering a career as an administrative assistant, you’re probably wondering what life’s really like on-the-job.
Is the role right for you? What should you know up front before you invest in training?
Unfortunately, the information out there is sometimes unclear. What exactly does an administrative assistant do?
Basically, admin assistants help businesses run smoothly by providing clerical support, answering client requests, scheduling appointments, and organizing projects.
If that still sounds vague to you, it’s because many specifics of the job depend on the type of organization you choose to work for.
What does it all boil down to? Being a key member of the office support team. No business or organization could function without highly organized, skilled administrative staff.
Let’s look at some pros and cons of this position. By the end of this post, you’ll have a much better idea of what to expect.
Pro: Admin assistants are employable in many industries
One of the best things about becoming an administrative assistant is that there are job opportunities in every industry.
Small businesses, large corporations, government agencies, community organizations, and educational institutions all need administrative assistants.
This means it is a position in high demand and the demand stays consistent because it’s not tied to a single sector. Many administrative assistants have long, stable careers.
Administrative skills are transferrable. You can apply your skills at any type of company, in any sector—giving you more job options overall.
Con: The job description varies a bit with each workplace
So, you’ve completed administrative assistant training and are ready to begin your career. The only issue? Every organization does things a little differently.
They may ask you to use software you’ve never seen, technology you haven’t been trained on or systems you’re simply unfamiliar with.
Your training will provide you with a strong foundation in computers and office procedures. You will be able to transfer those skills to new work environments—but there’s no doubt that you will need to keep learning new skills.
You will need to adapt to new administrative procedures and learn new technology throughout your career.
If you’re not flexible and open to continuous learning, you might find this very challenging.
Pro: You get to interact with lots of different people
Administrative assistant is often a public-facing role. This means you’ll interact with clients, coworkers and customers on a daily basis.
All of these interactions will give you the chance to connect with people and build new business relationships. It also helps break up the more routine tasks of paperwork, data entry and endless emails.
Con: You’ll need to know a little about a lot of things
The tasks of an administrative assistant relate to pretty much every aspect of business. Depending on the company or industry where you work, you might need basic knowledge of the following:
☑️ Project management
☑️ Office procedures
☑️ Human resource management
☑️ Client services
☑️ Information management
This might seem like an intimidating list of skills to learn. But if you’re up for the challenge, you’ll end up with a large, diverse skill set. Knowledge is power!
Pro: Administrative assistant training is quick and affordable
If you’re looking to learn a practical set of skills that can be useful at any company, administrative assistant training is a great option.
The training is thorough and doesn’t take long to complete. For example, the Office Assistant training at Herzing College Winnipeg can be completed in just six months, including a four-week internship.
You can also complete the program online in six months (or over 11 months for part-time training).
These program lengths are fairly standard. You’ll find similar options at accredited and respected training facilities across Canada. Do your research and be sure to find the right pace and program for you.
Con: Dealing with direction from multiple people at once
As an admin assistant, you'll do everything necessary to help a business run smoothly. Sometimes this includes dealing with stubborn technology, troubleshooting issues and taking direction from multiple people all at once.
It can feel overwhelming, especially on busy days. Multitasking, problem-solving, and learning to prioritize tasks takes experience, and can be stressful when you’re first starting out.
Pro: There are plenty of advancement opportunities
The options are endless as an admin assistant. You can switch between industries or specialize in a specific sector. You can also take on more responsibilities and advance in your current role.
It's easy to upgrade your skills as an admin assistant. Additional business administration training can further your abilities in accounting, payroll, software applications, and office management.
Con: Supporting others is the main focus
It’s important to note that being an administrative assistant is primarily about supporting others. You won’t be making major leadership decisions or managing a whole division of the company.
If you prefer to be the person in charge and creating big changes, supporting others might feel like a “con.”
That being said, talented admin assistants can advance to positions of authority within their own department. You could become the supervisor of a team of administrative assistants. Or even qualify for an office manager position.
Learn more about Administrative Assistant training
If you think a career as an administrative assistant is the right fit for you, do your research on the various training programs available so you can make an informed decision.
Get started by exploring Herzing’s Office Assistant program. We teach the computer, communication, and organization skills you need to get hired in any office.
This diploma is fast, flexible, and taught by business professionals with decades of experience.
Click below to discover the Office Assistant program and chat live with an Admissions Advisor. We’re here to help!