What’s the best career path for an administrative assistant? — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily
  • LinkedIn
  • YouTube
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google+

What’s the best career path for an administrative assistant?

Get PDF file

by on
in Admin Pro Forum

Question: “What is the best career path that an administrative assistant can take in the admin or facilities field, and what would the duties be?” — Sreekumari K


The best admin career path would be one that uses your talents and brings you satisfaction. There is no "best" career field. An admin should expect to deal with spreadsheets, word documents, schedules, event planning, organizing, communicating with others, writing, proofing, data entry, and so much more. The admin field covers many different job duties, but most will require good grammar and verbal skills, and computer skills and software knowledge. I hope this helps.

I agree there is no best career path. You should think about what excites you about your current duties. Do you like event planning? Project management? Those are both options, or you could focus on becoming an executive assistant or office manager. For now, just work towards being the absolute best you can be doing what you are doing and then determine what you enjoy the most.
Good luck!

Admins usually feel there is no way "Up" in this field. If you are well organized, reliable, efficient in the work you do and show initiative to learn more, there are managers who will work with you. Years ago, as a teenager, I started working as an admin becuase of exceptional typing skills. With a lot of initiative and managers who encourage staff to strive for improvement, I have branched into various aspects in the admin field. I maintain our books (acctg.) for the firm; I function as a Off. Manager; I am the "go to" person for all the questions our staff might have. Although my title hasn't changed, the most effective title would be "right-hand man". I am satisfied in being known as an admin staff, but I am greatly pleased at what I am able to do for myself and my firm as well. Good luck, and strive to learn something new every day. Life is too short, not to.

When I started out I was just a secretary, now I have worked my way up to being an Office Manager. I still do all the secretary grunt work but also have additional duties along with a better pay scale and I am the go to person whenever anything hanppens in the company. I wouldn't change a thing that has happened to me on the way up, took me awhile but I am there!

Standard Operating ProcedureEDITOR'S NOTE: It's essential for every organization to have a standard operating procedure for their admin assistant. Business Management Daily's SOP manual will help you create your own operating procedures, allowing your organization to be more efficient and effective. Get Standard Operating Procedure: An example manual of operating procedure for an administrative assistant now!

I don't think there is a set career path. I would say the skills and education you have will tell you where you can start. I received a certificate of completion for office assistant from a local community college. When I graduated the only jobs I previously held involved working with children. I was able to pull my organizational skills and others of that type for my resume. But a lot of employers wanted experience in the administrative field. I ended up starting my career as a receptionist because it was an entry level position. I was able to show my skill set I learned in high school and college. Those experiences landed me a higher paying position with another company as a receptionist, and have since been promoted to administrative assistant. As the company grows and higher admin assistant or secretary positions open, I would hope to advance. Like others have mentioned, there are many different directions you can go within the field. You just have to decide what you are best at and what you enjoy. Not every administrative assistant covers the same duties.

Get a degree and then get out of the admin ranks. If you try to work your way up through the ranks without college it will take you TEN years or more to advance. With a four-year degree in hand you can easily unlock doors that would be closed to you as an admin with "some or no" college.
Just call me:
The Voice of Experience

I agree with everyone that there is no set career path. You need to decide what you like. I know people who have been receptionists for years and love it. They like the involvement with the outside. Yet I know others who prefer a position where they have variety.

I started in the Admin field 5 years ago as a Receptionist. After about a year I was promoted to HR Administrative Assistant. I left that company a few years ago and I am currently the Office Manager for a small company where I do a little of everything (HR, Accounting, Payroll, Scheduling, Project Management)- my days are never boring, always a little hetic and I love it. I am one of those people who likes to be busy and loves the fact that you never know what challenges a day will bring.

I don't agree with Egadz regarding the four year degree. I have an Associates Degree and my lack of a four year degree has not held me back. In less than five years I went from Entry level Receptionist to an Office Manager.

Bottom line is you need to decide what will make you happy, find a great company, and work hard.

I think the bottom line would be to decide if you want to specialize in a field ie legal, medical, corporate, HR. I would highly recommend a two year degree. I don't think you need a four year but a two will take you down the career path in a shorter amount of time and will put you in line for office management type positions.

To the voice of Experience. I think it is presumptuous to say “get out of the admin ranks”. Speaking as someone who has a college degree and LOVES the administrative duties she does, I take offence whenever someone says “no one wants to be a secretary forever”. The administrative field can be just as rewarding to someone who enjoys their work as any other field that you can get a degree for. or for any other job you might have as long as you love what you do. I am an office manager for a busy sales office and I would NEVER want to be a sales person. It takes a certain kind of person to be a sales person and it also take a special kind of person to take care of the salespeople. I am the one that EVERYONE goes to when they want to know how to do ANYTHING in the office or on the computer, and whenever there is anything they need. I like to be that person. And I think that I am just as important to the bottom line as any other person in the company all the way up to the top.

I was taught growing up that whatever you decide to do give it your all.

I started right out of H.S. with an internationally known company as a telephone operator for the office. I did filing and assembled the order paperwork for the warehouse. Eventually I had experience with manifesting our shipments, receptionist, international shipping online, customer service and data entry.

This led me to be moved to Purchasing where I learned a lot about Excel.

With my current employer I started in Data Entry and now work in Accounting and have begun working with other services within the organization. I am able to jump into 3 of the 5 departments in our office without notice and fill in when I am needed. I have had opportunities for educational growth and learned so much from both employers. All by making myself open to new opportunities and doing the best I could with any job, even the ones I dreaded! I have virtually no college education beyond seminars and adult ed classes and make more than many in similar positions. I am not knocking college, I plan to attend when my children a little more independent but also know I can do pretty well without it as long as I am willing to work hard. Remember that you don't just get credit when things go well, people remember when you screw up even more!!!

I think that saying "No one wants to be a secretary forever" is terrible! My mother was promoted to Administrative Assistant last year and still has a signature tag on her e-mail that reads "Secretary". She is proud of what she does and that she helps so many others and does teh best work she can.

You need to remember that it takes all kinds to make the world go round! If there were no secretaries then what would you do?

Very interesting subject! I started as a data entry person from a staffing agency. Now I'm HR administrator and IT liason. A career path is very important as it impacts every part of your life. If I had to choose I probably would not have choosen what I do. But I Love how I do what I do. I think a person should first ask God what are my gifts and then be about becoming better at that. Then what ever your doing you will be used by God and a blessing to others.

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

asma May 31, 2017 at 10:50 pm

what is career path of business Assistant?


kik online hack February 12, 2017 at 6:09 pm

What’s up, the whole thing is going well here and ofcourse every one is sharing information, that’s really good, keep
up writing.


Mary October 7, 2016 at 9:18 am

The Department of Labor Statistics will give you all of the information you need, the role you are in, roles similar, the education level needed and salaries. I particularly don’t see a path of promotion as an assistant. You’ll need to change jobs and stop accepting assistant positions to be respected as something other than. As women it’s much more difficult to be promoted out of an Admin position and even when you’re a VP at the same company, men will likely still ask you to make a copy or order lunch.


Barbara Williams-Lewis June 24, 2015 at 8:20 am

I am researching information on how to identify approaches for nonexempt administrative professionals/assistants who have goals to advance to higher and/ or exempt positions. I am looking for resources such as websites, blogs, statistics or any other information.

Please provide information.


Mohamed Relam January 15, 2015 at 5:32 pm

I am Srilankan , I came to Qatar and working as a administrative assistant but i hope to parallely go with my studies but at the same time am in a situation to earn also but now am in a situation to choose which field i have to go inorder to sharp my career path as am confused which field of education am to select.Please giv some consultations


Sanelisiwe Khambule September 18, 2014 at 3:29 am

i obtain National diploma in Management Assistant , i want to proceed with my studies, i do not know which course can i take, pls help


Cyn January 20, 2014 at 12:16 pm

I have 5 1/2 years working as an Admin II and I have an Associate in Business and Help Desk Analyst Certified, currently working on my BS in Operations Management. Does anyone know SPECIFIC job titles that I can go into? But definitely not sales. TY


Katie November 20, 2013 at 6:38 am

It really depends on what personal goals you hope to accomplish. For example, if you are happy with an admin asst title and aspire to make a whopping 40-50k for the rest of your life then you found your career. You can make it up the ranks with some college but I can promise with the right experience and a Bachelors degree more doors will open for you than ever imagined. The degree will qualify you for bigger salaries and you will be recognized for promotions outside and yes ABOVE the admin rank. People without degrees don’t see the value in what they never accomplished and simply don’t have so stay open minded. Also college isn’t for everyone. The degree doesn’t promise anything but it will enable you to be considered. There are plenty of management trainee, leadership development programs, and entry level jobs that YES, Require a BA degree that you will simply won’t have access to with experience or college. Look at jobs you would be interested and take note of the requirements.


Anna in Buffalo, NY December 7, 2012 at 8:14 am

Think about specializing. Generalists are a dime a dozen. For example, if you like science, try taking medical administrative courses to learn Medent & human anatomy/physiology. Get a job in a medical practice specializing as a medical administrative asst. & work up to office manager.


Tester August 7, 2011 at 4:43 am

I worked as a QA (Software Tester) for 3 years, I have a Master’s Degree in Computer Science and now thinking to change my career. I have excellent communication skills (both verbal and written), have created many documents during my IT career and also worked as a QA Lead, hired team members and managed small team. If I want to change career do I need to start from scratch and have to earn pretty low wage (like $ 12/hour or so) or can I get Senior level position? What kind of position I can apply? In these types of job, can I hit 50 k or more per year?


Ann August 3, 2011 at 6:57 pm

I started out as a secretary, worked my way up to an adminstrative secretary, then to an executive assistant to a CEO.. I obtained my BS in Business Mgmt and I am now working on my MBA.. I am now an Assistant to the President of a State college and I enjoy what I do; however, because I am advancing my education, I am looking for a higher level career path – but remaining in the Admin field.. I think it is tough to move up when you're an Admin for so long, but the wealth of knowledge you obtain as an Admin is remarkable. People ask me what I am going to do once I get my Masters in Business Administration and I really don't have an answer.. Weird but true.. The crazy thing is, Senior level admins sometime make more money than Managers.


Josh April 4, 2015 at 10:49 am


I’d love to hear how your story progress after 3.5 years.
Have you finished your MBA and what doors has it opened for you?

As for my experience*, I started my MBA in 2011 after gradating undergrad in 2009 with a political science degree and a slew of internships and entry-level jobs at law offices, brokerage firms, and commercial banks on my CV. With my two beginning courses in Financial Accounting and Foundation of Finance on my resume, I landed a job at a boutique accounting firm in New York City as bookkeeper, managing the cash flows of budgeted feature films & television programs for 2 years while continuing to managing two part time MBA courses a semester. After 2 years at the boutique accounting firm I left and started working freelance managing the books of multiple projects as an individual employed by multiple production companies. Realizing that my potential was bigger than the silver screen; I started working on my resume enthusiastically and was found by a headhunter who helped me attain a position as a receptionist at a private equity investment firm. I stayed at the position for 6 months, promising the hiring manager during my interview that I would remain a stable part of the communication team before accepting a promotion from a managing director of an internal team or collaborating public entity operating in the same building. Within the 7th month, the newly appointed managing director of Investor Relations & Public Relations poached me as his executive assistant.

Already 6 months into this position, I’m currently on path to finish my part-time MBA by the end of 2015; I don’t see myself being an assistant forever, with what I assume is a reasonable timeline of 2-3 years until being promoted to a VP position in IR. Yet, I wonder if my expectations are self-limited or over ambitious. What will the horizon look like for me at 28 years old with a completed MBA on my CV, 20 hours of extra time on my hands a week, and 7 years of professional experience?

(*and perceptions as a 27 year old living in New York from 2011-Present.)


Josh April 4, 2015 at 10:58 am

“The career path can be uncertain, however, and assistants’ fortunes often hinge on their boss’s trajectory. If the boss is fired, the assistant can end up in limbo or working for a less senior professional. Yet as automation claims many administrative jobs, the assistants are prized for their business savvy and treated as the boss’s not-quite-equal partner.”



sandy June 20, 2011 at 2:04 am

I'm an EA to a CEO and office manager and though I get paid $85,000 and nice bonuses/gracious company shares….Ii kind of want to work in another field like producing. ultimately we are the producers. how can i start working in this career path besides volunteering?


Anthony February 24, 2011 at 9:27 am

Somebody, Hire me I need a job yesterday!!!


admin nay June 17, 2010 at 10:59 am

I started out at the very bottom as an apprentice administrator ( washing cups, making tea) Now i have worked my way up to become a Tutor support administrator and now undertaking my teaching qualifications. Admin jobs vary from tutor support like myself to secretary i would say all career paths will one day lead to where you would like to be, you have just got to give it 100% all the time and you will be recognised the next time the “higher posistion” pops up.
Best of Luck!


Nancy May 21, 2010 at 7:07 am

You are not a loser…its natural for a IT person to be an allrounder.:D, I have a masters degree in computer Sc. but i joined as a Secretary.I gained tremendous amount of confidence after that .I learnt many things , trust me.Its not the degree that matters, its the knowledge u earn.If you can learn by working in different fields you should not stop yourself from working in a different field.You can join as a manager or executive secretary in a company.Just be positive, you won’t regret..because you said you enjoy admin. jobs.If its natural u should go for it.Who knows may be you will end up as a MD or CEO someday.Remember, try to learn something from everythng you do..the degree does not matter.


Engineer2PA October 28, 2009 at 7:20 am

I have a degree in IT and recently graduated with an MBA. I don’t quite know what I really want in my life (i know..sounds like a loser :(). I’ve been an engineer for almost 7 yrs now. All I can is, I don’t like to work with machines all day long and definitely work better with people. I’m good with admin stuffs (it’s almost a natural flair..hence I dunno if it’s a passion or it comes naturally), I love event organizing, I think I can do project mgmt although I’ve never tried… and all sorts of petty stuffs that the engineering world totally do not appreciate. Now, I’ve come to a point where I just need to get out of the engineering field and find a place to “park” my career. I want to do something where there is a “future” growth. I’m suddenly considering a PA job. I’m just not sure if I’m being silly or unrealistic. Would I be able to survive? Would I regret? I’m not saying as though an admin job is peanut. Don’t get me wrong. I’m just…confused & lost..


needshelp123 July 21, 2009 at 1:47 pm

I have 10 years Customer Service experience working with Executives at a Private Airport…I was wondering what is the best degree to get to go with my current experience. Accounting? Business Management? HR? I am 28 and want to get a degree that is going to benefit me the most with the experience I already have instead of changing career paths.


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: