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.

Related: What does an office administrator do? (With salary)

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

Email: johndoe@email.co.uk

Personal Statement:

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.

Key skills:

  • organisational skills

  • interpersonal skills

  • experience working with Excel

  • knowledge of accounting software

  • good attention to detail

  • effective communication skills

  • leadership skills

  • proficient with word processing and spreadsheet software

Achievements:

  • 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

Work experience:

Office Administrator—Turner's Tiles, London

01/04/2020–Present

Duties:

  • 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

01/04/2018–01/04/2020

Duties:

  • 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

Education:

BA (Hons) Business Administration

Manchester Metropolitan University

2:1

04/2018

Related: How to write an office administrator cover letter (with examples)

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.

Related: Common Interview Questions for an Administrator Job

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

Related: Common duties and responsibilities of an administrator

Important skills

Here are some of the most important skills office administrators develop to help them in their jobs:

Customer service

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.

Related: 11 top job skills: transferable skills for any industry

Computer literacy

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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