How to become an office administrator: a complete guide
By Indeed Editorial Team
Updated 5 August 2022
Published 5 May 2022
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
Office administrators often have strong organisational and communication skills and enjoy working in office environments. These professionals typically help businesses and organisations by running their offices efficiently, providing clerical support, making resources available and greeting visitors. Knowing how to become an office administrator may help you decide whether the career path is right for you. In this article, we look at who these professionals are, their duties and their most useful skills while exploring how to become an office administrator.
What is an office administrator?
Office administrators are professionals who run offices on behalf of organisations. Businesses employ office administrators to ensure offices complete operational tasks efficiently, such as processing payroll for staff and managing documents. Office administrators are often key figures as they coordinate with other employees to meet the office demands. These professionals are typically the highest authority within offices and have several other administrators under their management to whom they can delegate tasks.
How to become an office administrator
When deciding how to become an office administrator, there are many paths you can take. One way is by working your way up from a lower position in an office. You can follow these steps if you decide to join this profession:
1. Gain further education after high school
It's often important for aspiring office administrators to seek further education after high school, as this can help them learn the skills employers typically look for from the role. Employers usually want you to have a strong educational background, as overseeing their office priorities is an important and potentially challenging role. While some office administration positions may not ask you to hold a bachelor's degree, having a higher qualification in an area such as business administration can improve your employability. For this reason, it's often important to attend university and gain a relevant bachelor's degree.
A way to enter this profession without attending university can be to take your A-levels in maths, information technology or economics, but you may have fewer options available to you than those with a bachelor's degree. You can also gain some general office-based work experience, which could help you get a job quicker once you graduate. One option may include offering your services at local offices. Volunteering is also a viable way to secure some work experience.
2. Create a strong CV
Once you hold the relevant qualifications and have some experience, you can start thinking about where you want to work long-term and write a strong CV. It's often important to update your CV to showcase your most relevant qualifications and experience to demonstrate that you can be a competent office administrator. Consider placing a personal statement in a prominent location on your CV, tailoring it to describe how you meet the job description of the role you're pursuing. Here's an example of a strong office administrator's CV:
Name: John Doe
Mobile: +44 (0) 1234 567 890
I am a well-organised and outgoing professional who enjoys working in office environments. My professional experience includes supporting businesses with human resource professionals with clerical tasks and general bookkeeping. I am a team player with strong diplomacy skills, so I can effectively delegate tasks and manage other administrators. I also have excellent time-management and decision-making abilities.
experience working with Excel
knowledge of accounting software
good attention to detail
effective communication skills
proficient with word processing and spreadsheet software
spearheaded a waste-reduction initiative at my previous office, which led to improved efficiency for the business
dealt with various customer complaints and responded to their issues
improved the organisation of my previous office by introducing a system for filing documents, enabling my peers to retrieve documents more quickly and easily
mastered advanced spreadsheet functions
helped the human resources department with scheduling training programmes and onboarding new recruits, including collecting personal information from recruits for payroll and emergency purposes
Office Administrator—Turner's Tiles, London
handled incoming calls from customers and booked appointments with sales representatives
booked meeting rooms and scheduled meetings for upper management and, supplied the materials for the meetings
greeted customers in the reception area and gave them directions
maintained customer databases and organised important documents
assisted with bookkeeping by collecting and organising invoices
Administration Assistant—Yorkshire Dental Clinic, Leeds
welcomed and directed patients to the seating area and treatment rooms
created appointments for patients by checking the dentist's availability and using a digital calendar
routinely managed inventory and made sure that all items were available as needed
created invoices and processed payments for patients
organised and stored receipts and invoices
BA (Hons) Business Administration
Manchester Metropolitan University
3. Obtain a certification
Getting a certification is often an effective way to further improve your employability prospects and bolster your administrative skills. One relevant certification is the Professional Administrative Certification of Excellence (PACE). This programme covers some of the core skills most administrators possess, including communication, project management and human resources management. Having such a certification is not strictly necessary to get a job in office administration, but it can help you stand out from other candidates.
4. Receive on-the-job training
The final stage in becoming an office administrator is typically to receive role-specific training once you've secured employment. While you may already have formal qualifications, it's often important to learn about the specific company you work for and the role they want you to fulfil. This is because each organisation tends to have different requirements and expectations for their office, and the technology and software packages they use can differ. The organisation that employs you may put you through on-the-job training to ensure you can navigate the computer programs they use and so you clearly understand what to do.
What does an office administrator do?
The specific tasks an office administrator completes daily often depend on the business or organisation that employs them. This is because the offices of each business perform company-specific functions depending on what the businesses require. There are some common tasks most office administrators perform to help businesses stay organised and operate as efficiently as possible, such as:
operate office equipment, such as computers, printers, fax machines and photocopiers
coordinate other members of the administration team and delegate duties
schedule appointments, answer calls and reply to emails
undertake research to compile reports for upper management
track the inventory of office supplies and place orders
manage most of the administrative functions
aid the human resources department when onboarding new recruits
process payroll and other bookkeeping activities
help upper management with ad hoc tasks
greet clients and visitors
maintain databases and filing systems
Here are some of the most important skills office administrators develop to help them in their jobs:
Offices typically act as places where businesses and customers meet, so connecting with customers and staff to resolve complaints and provide customer support is often important. Good customer service skills, in addition to being proficient with clerical work, can help you stand out from other candidates. Your ability to help serve customers through clerical work by booking appointments and retrieving information upon request can have a significant impact on how well the office runs. In this role, you may be the first point of contact for customers, so the way you treat them reflects on the organisation's image.
Most office professionals rely on computers to perform their clerical duties, such as data entry, responding to emails and booking appointments. They also typically use word processing and spreadsheet software to write documents and organise the company's finances. For these reasons, it's important to be proficient with computers, have strong typing skills and understand various computer software packages. Being an effective researcher can also help you as an office administrator, as it means you can use the Internet effectively to retrieve information and solve problems.
Organisation and time-management
For offices to function effectively, it's often essential for administrators to remain highly organised so they can manage files effectively. It's also important for them to complete their work on time according to the schedules of the business. As such, office administrators typically benefit from keeping their workspace clean and using their time well to keep track of calendars and appointment schedules. These skills also help them provide adequate support and resources for events. It's also imperative that office administrators maintain the organisation of important documents, such as staff information and invoices.
Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.
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