What Education is Needed to be an AA?

Michele Warg
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A firm grasp of office technology and procedures is needed to excel as an administrative assistant. Most administrative assistants oversee the daily function of their office, so while new professionals may not have an extensive background in clerical work, the right set of skills and a good AA education helps to boost a resume or application.

While a higher degree isn't necessarily required in order to cement a position in administrative work, extra training in certain areas and certification through vocational schools is extremely helpful to a new professional's — or even a seasoned AA's — resume. An associate’s degree or even a bachelor’s degree helps a resume stand out as well, especially for applicants who aren't experienced in office administration. Typically, however, the highest level of education required is a high school diploma.

As an administrative assistant, work is usually done either in an office setting or virtually from home, especially in entry level positions. Either way, it's wise to investigate administrative assistant training at a local community college or through online courses. These programs offer classes that often prepare the professional for a fast-paced office environment that needs daily maintenance in order to function at its best.

For upper-level positions or more specialized fields such as medical and legal, the professional may have to attend a specialized program that awards graduates with a diploma, license or certification. These programs can usually be completed in one year and offer significant experience and knowledge to administrative assistants looking to move up the ranks or specialize in a certain field. Upper-level programs can often be found online or at most universities and community colleges, and if the professional already has an administrative job, most companies will assist with or pay for continued education tuition and fees.

It may also be beneficial to take classes that introduce the newest technologies and teach professionals how to use them. If the professional isn't experienced with programs such as Microsoft Office or typical office software, these courses are essential for resume-building and demonstrating competence and the willingness to learn new skills to the employer. Upper-level courses for specialized fields like legal and medical will often introduce popular software and technologies during the course of the class, though extra training or even extra certification in software use never hurts.

Without the right education and skills, landing a job as an administrative assistant can prove a challenge. Earning a degree or completing certification is a great way to show employers that a professional is serious and dedicated to becoming an office assistant. Someone who is an active participant in updated administrative assistant education may have a higher chance of being hired than an applicant with little to no knowledge of office procedures or technology.


Image courtesy of Matthew Hurst at Flickr.com



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    I do have an Associates Degree in General Secretarial Science. I have 15 years experience working in a Clerical/Secretarial Setting. I am more than willing to go back to school and upgrade as an Administrative Assistant. I am also considering to go into Health Information Technology.

  • Vickie L.
    Vickie L.

    I can't get a job in that field because they all want at least 2 years of prior experience. Very frustrating!

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