The Progression of the role of the AA Over the Past Twenty Years

Michele Warg
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The role of an administrative assistant within a company changes constantly. There are new tools, new duties and new people to handle as you expand your skills and experience. Layne Tinsley, founder and CEO of Administrative Sparkle, explains how the role as an administrative assistant changed over the past 20 years.

20 Years Ago

TInsley's walk down memory lane begins with listing the qualifications for an administrative assistant in the mid-1990s. Computers in the workplace were relatively new at that point, so if you understood how to use word processing programs on a PC or Macintosh, that was one key skill that landed you the job. AAs also needed a high school diploma, a typing speed of 40 words per minute at minimum and decent filing skills.

For soft skills, an administrative assistant had to be good with people, great on the phone and an excellent communicator. This type of job required top-notch people skills that included listening, relaying vital information and talking to anyone who came up to your desk. There was no checking email or text messages every five minutes. The expected starting pay was $8 to $12 per hour.

10 Years Ago

Fast forward to the mid-2000s. In this era, you had to know how to use specific computer programs. The Big Three were Microsoft Word, Excel and Outlook. Knowing Power Point and Access was a plus. The first three of those programs have since become standard bearers for basic computer skills.

Instead of basic grammar skills, an administrative assistant needed to know how to format documents and how to proofread. Your minimum typing speed increased to 50 words per minute. Pay was commensurate with the added responsibilities and you earned around $10 to $15 per hour.

In 2016

In addition to the aforementioned skills from 20 and 10 years ago, an administrative assistant has even more responsibilities and duties to handle in 2016. Today, you must navigate the internet to find vital information. Knowing the best apps to save time on the job is crucial. Uploading the best time management apps to your phone can save your career. Tech trends impact your job more than ever when it comes to managing social media pages and office software that helps you keep track of your day.

Instead of a high school diploma, many companies require a bachelor's degree simply because your boss wants to know if you can remain in the position for the long haul. As such, the pay scale for this position increased.

Instead of just remaining at a desk and typing all day, an administrative assistant's duties expanded to a more managerial position. Bosses are more adept at typing, and voice-to-text software can dictate words into a computer. Rather than typing correspondence, you might schedule web meetings, organize webinars, create social media pages, interact with buyers on social media or upload company videos to the internet.

The evolution of the administrative assistant is a good thing, because this means this field keeps expanding, changing and improving with time. The same stresses occur in 2016 as they did in the mid-1990s, but now, you have more tools to handle common issues compared to 20 years ago.

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  • Christine S.
    Christine S.

    One individual cannot know all. Technology moves too fast, BUT when all individuals contribute...SUCCESS!

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