How do you define administrative assistant titles?

Updated 6/4/20

As a member of the administrative team, one could go by any number of titles.

Administrative assistant, executive assistant, office manager, and chief administrative officer are just a few titles you might consider when hiring for an administrative role. But one question many in human resources and even those working in these roles themselves have is, how do you define administrative titles?

With so many names being used interchangeably, it can be challenging to narrow down how they differ.

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What do you do in an administrative role?

Before delving into the differences in titles, it’s first helpful to discuss what defines an administrative role.

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According to BusinessDictionary,com, the term administrative means “pertaining to activities related to an organization’s or business’ administration and management.”

The definition itself leaves much to be interpreted, which is probably why those in administrative positions have a wide variety of duties and an even larger number of potential titles.

Executive assistant vs. administrative assistant

Two of the primary administrative titles you’ll come across are executive assistant and administrative assistant. These terms are often used interchangeably but their duties showcase a difference in their responsibility level within a company.

Administrative Assistant

An administrative assistant performs duties related to basic clerical tasks and the day to day running of the office.

Tasks might include:

  • Data entry
  • File management
  • Calendar management
  • Answering phones and much more
Executive Assistant

An executive assistant often completes many of the same tasks as an administrative assistant, but with additional responsibilities and often for higher-level company executives. This is often the role that an administrative assistant moves to after a promotion.

Tasks might include:

  • Meeting the executive’s specific needs by
    • Managing his or her schedule
    • Preparing documents for his or her meeting
  • Overseeing administrative assistants in the office

3 Administrative Assistant levels

Beyond the administrative assistant vs. executive assistant titles, there are 3 general levels of being an administrative assistant: entry-level, mid-level, and executive.

Each comes with its own set of responsibilities and, as expected, job titles.

Entry-Level

Administrative assistants at this level are considered more of a jack of all trades. They are well versed in many different tasks and are available to provide support to many employees within the office.

Entry-level administrative assistant tasks might include:

  • Organizing files
  • Preparing documents
  • Completing staff requests
  • Managing email and phone messages
  • Planning events and activities
  • Managing calendars
  • Filing documents
  • Managing invoices
  • Handling mail and packages
  • Office supply inventory

Entry-Level administrative titles might include:

  • Administrative assistant
  • Receptionist
  • Secretary
  • Administrative assistant I
  • Office assistant
  • Office clerk
  • Front desk assistant
  • Data entry clerk
  • Administrative aide
  • Administrative associate
  • Junior administrative assistant
  • File clerk
  • Personal assistant
Mid-Level

Administrative assistants at this level are also responsible for completing a range of tasks; however, they are more likely to complete specialized jobs that require a higher skill level, such as payroll. At this point, their role within the company is more established, and they are often part of the team that helps improve the company’s overall strategy and operations.

Mid-level administrative assistant tasks might include:

  • Strategizing to improve office efficiency
  • Implementing office safety procedures
  • Payroll
  • Onboarding and offboarding employees
  • Planning events, meetings and activities
  • Creating reports
  • Calendar management
  • Travel management
  • Coordinating office projects
  • Resolving employee and customer/client complaints/conflicts
  • Managing the office budget
  • Managing operational tasks

Mid-Level administrative titles include:

  • Administrative assistant
  • Office manager
  • Executive assistant
  • Operations manager
  • Administrative specialist
  • Executive administrative assistant
  • Executive assistant
  • Executive secretary
  • Service administrator
  • Business manager
  • Unit assistant
  • Administrative assistant II
  • Executive assistant I or II
High-Level

Administrative assistants at this level spend most of their time working with certain executives within the company. They might be assigned as the assistant to one particular person or a small group of execs. They tend to focus on their area of expertise, whatever that might be in the company, and some will even have their own assistant to take care of the smaller-scale tasks that don’t fall within their responsibility.

High- level administrative assistant tasks might include:

  • Performing human resources tasks related to onboarding, offboarding, employee policies, and more
  • Planning and leading company projects
  • Allocating company resources
  • Managing the administrative team
  • Overseeing day to day operations
  • Maintaining relationships with stakeholders
  • Collaborating with and serving as the liaison for all departments within the company

High-Level administrative titles include:

  • Executive assistant
  • Executive administrative assistant
  • Senior receptionist
  • Senior executive assistant
  • Chief administrative office
  • Director of administration
  • Operations director
  • Office manager
  • Administrative assistant III
  • Executive assistant II or III

Additional administrative assistant titles

Beyond the titles listed above, you’re likely to come across additional ones as well such as

  • Administrative Coordinator
  • Administrative Director
  • Legal secretary
  • Medical secretary
  • Real estate assistant
  • Senior support assistant
  • Senior support specialist
  • Program administrator
  • Human resources administrator
  • Administrative manager
  • Administrative specialist
  • Billing coordinator
  • Financial clerk
  • Auditing clerk
  • Office support manager
  • Staff assistant
  • Contract administrator
  • Support specialist
  • Virtual assistant
  • Virtual receptionist

Ultimately, those in the administrative field can have a myriad of responsibilities within the office, and their role can change and evolve to meet the company’s needs. While providing a proper title is important, it’s often difficult to use the title alone to determine the duties of the administrative assistant.