Inside Office Administrator Careers

Things you need to know, but nobody tells you

Best & Worst Things About This Career

Clerical: "The best part of the job is its diversity! Every day brings something new: new people to speak with and direct to the appropriate division. I always have a to-do list. Things are always popping up involving machine maintenance or supply orders. It is like taking care of many different aspects of the office to keep it running smoothly. And yet oddly, with diversity being the "best" part of the job, it can also be the worst, especially when things are busy, trying to figure out which of several tasks I need to tackle first." (2010)

Administrative Assistant: "The best part of the job is that no two days are ever the same! I support four different departments so the work and demands are varied and for the most part very interesting. The worst part is keeping my attitude positive every day and getting along with all the personalities involved. I do find a smile and a good laugh help." (2010)

Executive Assistant: "The best part of my job is that I learn something new every day. Because I work for senior executives I'm constantly learning how big business operates, and how managers relate to their peers and employees. I think the most important part of any job is learning as much as you can about the company you work for so that you really make a difference in helping to make the company successful. It's hard for me to say what the worst part of my job is because I really like my job. I guess I'd say the worst part is that a lot of people I don't work for come to me for help. I gladly help everyone but sometimes I have a lot of balls in the air at once and that can be stressful." (2010)

Records Specialist: "The best part of my job is working with our financial section. We work as a team and assist each other as needed. The worst part of the job is the threat of budget cuts and worrying if I will be the next to go. Sometime we get irate consumers on the phone and have to help them in anyway. During hurricane season, we may have to handle claimants we are not familiar with and have to help them as best we can." (2010)

Administrative Assistant: "One good part of the job is the interaction with people. The hard part of this is that I listen to the ups and downs in their lives while sharing very little of my own. I do not want it said that I am having a bad day because of something I blurted out. Another good part of the job is that I enjoy helping but I do not necessarily want to be the policy decision maker. The down side of this is having to abide by decisions that I don't always agree with. Another good part of the job is being around children. It keeps me young. The hard part of this is that I have been there for almost 25 years and have gone from being known as the 'mother' of all these children to the 'grandmother' of all these children." (2010)

Executive Assistant In An Insurance Company: "The best thing about my job is that its duties are very diverse. The people with whom I work make every day enjoyable. The nature of my position also requires a high degree of confidentiality. Dealing with employees' personal information (salaries, home contact information, attendance, etc.) requires a great deal of trust. One of the worst parts of my job is having to assist with some unpleasant personnel issues (for example, layoffs, the loss of an employee's family member, etc.)." (2010)

Executive Assistant: "The best part of my job is that it is not repetitive. I do not do the same thing day after day. This keeps my job always changing and exciting. The worst part of my job is that it is not consistent. Sometimes I am in between projects with not much to do. This is when I need to be creative and find things to work on. It is during these periods that I teach myself new skills. I do not use Microsoft Publisher too much, but I taught myself that software. When the president found out I knew Microsoft Publisher, he gave me the job of designing and printing business cards for the company." (2010)

Non-Instructional Aide: "For me the worst part is having to discipline students and having to deal with special ed situations. I am not trained in special education and I get nervous thinking that I am not handling these encounters correctly. Otherwise, though, I like talking with the students and having fun with them. I like being in the office and keeping things organized. I also like the school schedule and having the same vacations and days off as my children do." (2010)

Administrative Assistant: "The best part of my job is that it is not very stressful or strenuous and it's actually kind of fun. I like working with the students because I am helping them to reach their goal of getting a bachelor's degree. Another plus is that I get free tuition for myself and my family. I have three kids and they all went to school here and got their bachelor's degrees free of charge. I am also now working toward my own degree. The worst part of the job is that I am constantly interrupted while I am working which makes it hard to focus. As an administrative assistant, I sometimes feel like I know more than people who have higher positions but am paid less." (2010)

Secretary/Administrative Assistant: "I love working with younger children and being able to make somewhat of a difference in their lives, whether it's making sure they do the right thing when I see them, telling them a story that might help a situation or congratulating them on a job well done. Children are very impressionable at this age and need good role models. Hopefully, I can be one in their lives. When children don't behave and parents need to be called, as you could probably guess, parents are not always happy. This is the part of the job I could do without." (2010)

Administrative Assistant: "The worst part of my job is having to keep a stiff upper lip all the time. I'm always on stage, so to speak, and have to have a positive attitude. Another bad part is the uncertainty of my position. I never really know what I'll be called on to do -- drive my boss to the DMV or pick out flowers for a sick family member, or something else." (2010)

Administrative Assistant: "The best part of my job is getting to assist prospective college students who are having trouble getting their application fee payments matched with their files. Usually, these are individuals who did not mail their payment at the same time as their application or had difficulty submitting the credit card information after completing an online application. The worst part of my job is contacting those who send payments without submitting an application. This is a frustrating task because in many cases, we receive payments without the applicant's name or contact information." (2009)

Career Background

  Office Administrator Salaries

Career Tips

"Be Dependable And Courteous...
At my reviews, I'm always applauded for my dependability, for being someone people can count on to be there every day who can also meet the challenges that diversified clerical work can sometimes pose. Meeting those challenges in a courteous way (with requests coming from many different people in the office) and making sure you adhere to your deadlines are both very important." (Clerical; 2010)

"College Education Will Pay Off...
Get as much education as you can. The reward for that will come as you age. You will not have to work so hard in your later years if you have those degrees. It will afford you a lot more options." (Administrative Assistant; 2010)

"Consider Specializing In A Particular Industry...
Learn as many office and business computer programs as you can. You might also want to decide early whether you want to specialize in general business subjects in school, or whether you want to specialize in subjects that relate to a law office, medical office, hotel office, manufacturing, travel office, etc. That way you'll learn the computer programs that pertain to that specific type of office." (Executive Assistant; 2010)

"Dress For The Job...
My advice would be to get as much education as you can. Go to college if you can. Dress appropriately when going for interviews. Always be punctual. Never be late and be dependable. Know your computer programs such as Excel, Word, Publisher and Outlook. The computer is a very important office machine." (Records Specialist; 2010)

"Five Tips...
*Be more of a listener than a talker. *Be organized. Make lists and check things off. *Be sure to return all phone calls and emails in a timely manner. *If you make a mistake, own up to it. No one is perfect. *Earn people's respect by keeping confidential what they share with you." (Administrative Assistant; 2010)

"For The Detail-Oriented...
If you are a very detail-oriented person, this might be the right career for you. If you enjoy a job that is diversified and fast-paced, you will not be bored. But you need to be able to maintain a professional demeanor, have a lot of patience and have the ability to multi-task and get along with people. Being able to prioritize your work, since you'll often have several people asking for things at the same time, doing it accurately, and meeting your deadlines are all very important." (Executive Assistant In An Insurance Company; 2010)

"Know Latest Software...
Never stop learning. I keep up-to-date with the newest software and hardware. This keeps me knowledgeable and always able to assist. The executive staff comes to me with "how-to" questions on Microsoft Office 2007 and Windows XP and Vista. I also stay current with web-based products and services. I like never having to say, "Sorry, I don't know". I would not be doing my job if I couldn't help them or if I didn't know how to use software." (Executive Assistant; 2010)

"Need Office Software Fluency...
Extensive training in computer programs would be very helpful for a job like this, as well as childhood development and teaching courses so you can speak knowledgeably with teachers and students. You should be able to speak with callers considerately and professionally. Information that comes through the office is highly confidential so you need to be able to hold your tongue." (Non-Instructional Aide; 2010)

"Several Pieces Of Advice...
Learn how to talk to all kinds of people and actually listen to what they are saying. Always dress nicely and don't be lazy about your appearance. Take notes! always bring your notebook or laptop to meetings. Make contacts in every department and keep it professional. You never know when you will need a favor. Learn how to use Outlook calendar to stay on track. Don't assume that someone will show you everything about your job. You may have to figure it out on your own. Keep yourself healthy. Don't party on work nights. It will show the next day." (Administrative Assistant; 2010)

"Spanish A Plus...
It is best to take typing courses at school, as well as managerial courses. When working in some school districts it is good to know the language spoken and take a course in that language. The school I work at is mainly Spanish speaking and I wish that I had studied more Spanish so that I could hold conversations with parents." (Secretary/Administrative Assistant; 2010)

"Take English And Computer Courses...
Take as many computer classes as you can. The more you know about any given subject the safer your job is. Take as many English classes too. How you communicate with others is very important. You need to be clear and to the point when communicating with others. Try and know a little bit of all aspects of the company that you are working for. Your knowledge and contacts within the organization will pay off in the long run." (Administrative Assistant; 2010)

"Keep Correspondence Professional...
1. Learn to be organized. During the "busy season" in our office, thousands of pieces of paper and thousands of dollars in checks and money orders cross my desk. Not keeping up with the paperwork could mean the difference between a prospective student being accepted for admission or having to wait and apply for another term. 2. Always use "formal language" and common courtesies for non-personal correspondence. A good portion of my job includes corresponding with prospective students via email, mail or telephone. It is important that I make the best impression possible when representing the university. 3. Always protect the confidentiality of your clients in any field of work." (Administrative Assistant; 2009)