7 minute read


Education and Training: High school diploma
Average Salary: $27,238 to $67,671 per year
Job Outlook: Good

The responsibilities of administrators may vary from one company to another, but there are some essential skills needed for the position. In general, their task is to provide assistance to their supervisor and other co-employees to make their work easier.

One of the most important duties of an administrator is database management. He/she usually won’t be expected to create a database from scratch. Instead, an administrator is tasked to enter records, update information, and call up data when needed. For instance, an administrator at a construction firm might be asked to keep detailed spreadsheets of material costs, local supplier information, and customer contact details. Furthermore, administrators are required to have an organized filing system for office documents.

Administrators may also be asked to answer the telephone and talk to people or transfer callers to the department that would best provide their needs. It’s also their responsibility to take down the messages and contact information of the caller. Hence, administrators should be friendly and accommodating. A warm, pleasant voice is a plus.

Apart from oral communication skills, administrators must possess excellent written communication skills because they may be expected to compose correspondences to clients, announcements, and memos. In addition, they are tasked to handle email inquiries.

Schedule management is another important duty of an administrator. Through schedule management software, he/she plans meetings, books appointments, and sends daily and/or weekly updates to employees. From here, staff members can check their electronic calendars and make adjustments when needed.

Finally, administrators may run errands that don’t specifically fall under their job description. They may be asked to purchase office supplies, make bank deposits, or even pick up lunch for the employees.

Education and Training Requirements

Most employers require that an entry-level administrator have a high school diploma and basic office skills. These office skills can be acquired by either undergoing high school vocational training that teaches computer fundamentals and typing or by attending a one or two-year program in office administration that is offered by trade schools. Some placement agencies also provide such training. Those entering more specialized fields such as legal or healthcare must go through training programs that will teach them industry jargon. There are also online programs that teach bookkeeping, transcription, web design, computer technology, and other essential skills that an administrator must have.

If the position calls for the administrator to work closely with top management, the recruitment department would look for a candidate with a bachelor’s degree. Those with a degree that is related to the company’s industry will have the best prospects.

Once hired, administrators tend to learn more advanced technical skills on the job through mentoring by other employees or through briefings by software and equipment providers. As office technology advances, retraining will always remain part of the job.

Aside from schooling and on-the-job training, administrators may also attain certification for aptitude in office skills. Through many national associations, they may take exams given they have met certain work experience and education requirements. Those who are in more specialized fields will benefit most from these certifications.

Getting the Job

Administrators play a crucial role in the successful operations of companies in a wide variety of industries. They are the core of every department because of the assistance that they provide to employees in term of making their work easier. As such, they must be flexible enough to adapt to different responsibilities like database management, staffing, medical billing, accounting, record keeping, and so on. Since they work very closely with other individuals, anyone who wishes to be an administrator must be team players, outgoing, and people-oriented.

For those who want to become an administrator, there are some skills that will boost their chances of being hired. In high school, it would be beneficial to take electives that would hone one’s office skills such as typing and word processing. Learning software applications and bookkeeping would also help.

Work experience would also increase one’s job prospects. It would be beneficial to seek internship opportunities. Some community colleges and high schools have an on-the-job training program that will train you for real-world work. A good recommendation letter that you can show the recruiter is a bonus, especially if it highlights your excellent performance.

Others make sure to earn a certification or get an associate degree in a business-related field. Here, you will learn crucial skills that will help differentiate you from the rest of the applicants. A certification is like a proof of your proficiency in office work. This is important especially if you don’t have any work experience yet.

When looking for a job, look for companies belonging to an industry that you think you will enjoy. For example, if being around sick people makes you anxious, then a career as a medical administrator is not for you. After you have made a list of the companies that you wish to apply for, send out copies of your résumé right away.

On the interview day, make sure that you project yourself as someone organized, flexible, detail-oriented, and outgoing. These are the traits that employers look for in prospective administrators.

Job Prospects, Employment Outlook and Career Development

Job growth for administrators is expected to rise at a rate of 11% from 2008 to 2018. This rate is about the same for other professions. The increase will be brought about by vacancies due to workers transferring to other professions or retiring. Due to advances in technology, job prospects will be the highest for those with an in-depth knowledge of computer programs. Growing industries will generate the most jobs. Examples of these are education, construction, healthcare, science, and technical services.

Because more and more companies are adapting advanced office technology, administrators will be more productive and efficient in the coming years. Email, computers, voice messaging systems, and scanners will allow them to accomplish more work in the same amount of time. In fact, many companies will continue to outsource administrative functions like bookkeeping, research, and data entry to virtual administrators due to improved communication capabilities over the Internet. There may be many developments in technology, but some of the responsibilities of an administrator can’t be easily automated. This is because making staff announcements, planning meetings, or simply communicating with others in general are usually done in a personal, face-to-face manner and technology cannot be a substitute.

Administrators usually get promoted by assuming work with greater and more complex responsibilities for higher pay. Those who supplement their work experience and technical skills with further education may even advance to managerial positions later on.

Working Conditions and Environment

Administrators usually work in an indoor office setting. They sit in front of a computer in a comfortable, well-lit and climate-controlled office for almost the entire day. If they spend a lot of time sitting, typing and looking at a computer monitor, they may encounter eyestrain, back pain, and repetitive motion conditions like the carpal tunnel syndrome.

They usually follow the standard 40-hour work week, going to the office from Monday until Friday during business hours. Some may work part-time, while a few may work in the comfort of their own homes as virtual assistants. Working overtime is not usually required. If the workload is too much, some companies may even allow job-sharing arrangements in which administrators split responsibilities.

Salary and Benefits

Administrators, on the average, receive between $27,238 and $67,671 per year. The forty-thousand-dollar gap between the lowest and highest salaries suggests that there are many factors that may affect compensation.

Earnings may vary based on work experience. It was found that entry-level administrator jobs pay between $24,767 and $49,510 annually. On the other hand, those with 20 years or more of experience are getting $31,259 to $77,183 yearly.

Industry can also influence compensation. Those working in the medical field receive the highest, spanning from $30,669 to $95,765 a year. The legal industry falls in second, with legal administrators earning between $36,977 and $95,626.

In terms of skill, those with budget management skills are paid the most. Their average annual compensation lies between $39,562 and $98,702. Those with operations management skills receive salaries ranging from $20,273 to $88,852 a year.

Administrators get the standard benefit package. This includes life insurance, health insurance, and retirement benefits. They also get paid sick days and vacation leaves.

Where to Go for More Information
Association of Professionals in Business Management
980 North Michigan Ave., Ste. 1400
Chicago, IL 60611-7500
(657) 549-2726

International Association of Administrative Professionals
P.O. Box 20404
Kansas City, MO 64195-0404
(816) 891-6600

Association of Executive and Administrative Professionals
900 S Washington St., Ste. G-13
Falls Church, VA 22046

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesBusiness