Strong typing skills and the ability to deal well with people are no longer the only prerequisites for an administration career. Whether you're just starting out or wanting to move forward with a career as an admin, educational opportunities, business networking, and skill building all play a role in whether or not you succeed.
Depending on the level of an admin position and the company doing the hiring, specific education may not be required. For an entry-level admin position, a high-school diploma or GED is often sufficient, although an employer may require you to pass tests to prove you have proficient typing, computer, or grammar skills. Administrative careers can become competitive at higher levels, and a vocational degree or certification can help you stand out from the crowd. You should weigh the benefits of administrative education with cost; spending thousands on a four-year degree may be overkill for some admin positions. A good vocational program will teach skills like letter writing, data entry, transcription, computer skills, office management, meeting management, and basic web and IT skills.
Networking is also essential to a successful administration career. Always ensure that you provide excellent work and treat individuals with courtesy and professionalism. Clerical staff members are often moved throughout an organization, so you never know who you might end up working for. You also don't know when a previous work acquaintance will be in a position to offer you employment, provide a recommendation, or otherwise bolster your career.
It's also important to network with peers and others in the clerical field. Clerical professionals are usually happy to share admin tips or assist with questions regarding presentation requirements, document formatting, or general software knowledge. In an address to a local chapter of the International Association of Administrative Professionals, work education expert Sandy Ortiz talked about how those in administration careers must be prepared to meet changes in the workplace. Changes might include new computer systems, global markets, and virtual workplaces. Joining an association for clerical professionals allows you to keep up with trends, share admin tips, and build a network of associates in your niche.
In addition to formal education and networking, anyone interested in one of the various administration careers should spend time each day developing new skills. Let your boss know you're interested in local workshops and that you want learn to use new software. Understanding new processes—even those that aren't directly related to your work—will allow you to take better notes in meetings, communicate better with departmental staff, and provide better information to your boss.
A long-term administration career can be very rewarding, but it takes work to maintain relevance in the workplace. Consistently striving to learn new skills, networking with others, and being open to change will help you achieve success in your career.
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