What is an Administrative Assistant?

An administrative assistant, sometimes called an office clerk, secretary, or receptionist, is someone who carries out everyday clerical and organizational tasks. They are among an organization's most important employees, keeping everything running smoothly behind the scenes.

Administrative assistants organize files, draft messages, schedule appointments and help out other staff. Although you'll find them working in nearly every industry, most are employed by schools, hospitals, government agencies, and legal and medical offices.

What does an Administrative Assistant do?

An administrative assistant answering the phone.

Administrative assistants use a computer to create spreadsheets, compose messages, manage databases, and whip up presentations, reports, and documents. They also may negotiate with vendors, buy supplies, manage stockrooms or corporate libraries, and get data from various sources. Specific job duties vary by experience, job title, and specialty.

The work of an administrative assistant typically involves the following:

  • Maintain paper and electronic filing systems for records and messages
  • Route and distribute incoming mail and email
  • Answer routine letters and email
  • Reply and attach files to incoming messages
  • Correct spelling and grammar to ensure accuracy
  • Operate fax machines, videoconferencing and phone systems, and other office equipment
  • Use computers for spreadsheet, word processing, database management, and other applications
  • Complete forms in accordance with company procedures

Interested in becoming an administrative assistant?

We can help! Our membership gives you tools, resources, guidance, and support to pursue a career as an administrative assistant. You’ll get access to scholarships, exclusive discounts on career coaching, online courses, and industry training. As an added bonus, tap into savings on food, entertainment, electronics, and so much more.

Learn more

What is the workplace of an Administrative Assistant like?

Although administrative assistants work in nearly every industry, many are concentrated in schools, hospitals, government agencies, and legal and medical offices. Most work full time in comfortable office settings. Virtual assistants typically work from a home office.

Administrative Assistants are also known as:
Secretary