What Does an Office Assistant Do

Interviewing a job applicant

An office assistant can be an administrative assistant, or work as support staff to assist administrative assistants, secretaries and executive assistants. An office assistant is expected to perform many tasks in an office setting and will require that you have some basic office skills to perform the job. These jobs are under the administrative division or department of an office and have two sub-categories, a junior category and a senior category.

  1. Some of the tasks that will be required from an entry level or a junior office assistant may include the following document sorting and filing, answering the phone and taking messages, use a word processing application to type documents and letters and do some data entry, run errands and operate some office equipment like a fax machine and copier. You may also be required to do some clerical work for the accounting department that will require you to have knowledge of spreadsheets and databases or provide assistant to other members of the department. Others may be required to post and distribute mail, making travel arrangements and taking dictation and transcribing notes.
  2. An advanced office assistant or a senior office assistant can directly support company executives and can be left to manage the office and to supervise other employees. These types of office assistants earn the title of administrative or executive assistant. Other companies call them office managers.
  3. As an office assistant, your work may vary from day to day and you may be assigned to the different departments within the company when they need extra help. As you will be expected to know and perform different tasks for different people and departments, it will pay great dividends if you have more than average computing skills and educational attainment. You can either have a taken an undergraduate course from a community college or have completed a certificate program from a vocational or trade school to qualify as an office assistant.
  4. Main skills that an office assistant should have are people skills, being organized, have good phone manners and the ability to type accurately and quickly. You should have demonstrated capabilities to operate basic office equipment and the required skills to use common office software programs.
  5. Office assistants of a higher level who work directly with professional executives are more experienced and can handle the tasks that will help the executive focus on their actual functions rather than be saddled with the task of managing the office on a daily basis. These executive and administrative assistants have more knowledge of office software applications and are liaisons between their direct executives and the clients. They can have the authority to hire and fire office assistants who can assist them in their work while serving their executives.
  6. Based on your interests and qualifications, you can be an assistant in a legal office, a medical office, a technical office or an educational office. With the right qualification and certification you can also work as an office assistant in a government office.
  7. Wholesale trade and retail, manufacturing and transportation industries always require office assistants. There are also office assistant jobs in the construction and communication industries.

Be sure to get the right skills and educational background when you want to be an office assistant. The pay is good and the work hours are regular. You get the regular perks that a salaried employee gets while acquiring more knowledge that can lead to a promotion or a new job.


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