Administrative assistants (NOC 1241)

High opportunity occupation

About this job

Administrative assistants support managers and professional employers by performing a wide variety of administrative duties.

Common job titles
  • administrative assistant
  • secretary (except legal and medical)
  • secretary, appointment / recording
  • secretary, contracts / finance
  • secretary, executive (not legal / medical)
  • secretary, human resources

Duties

In general, administrative assistants:

  • Answer telephone calls, mail and email
  • Route messages
  • Greet visitors and direct them to the person who can help
  • Prepare, type, edit and proofread letters, invoices, presentations, brochures, publications and reports
  • Maintain their employer’s calendar, including scheduling and confirming meetings
  • Arrange travel schedules and make reservations
  • Book meetings and conference rooms
  • Solve and keep track of issues with facilities, office equipment and assets
  • Order and maintain office supplies
  • Set up and maintain paper and electronic filing systems
  • Set up office procedures and improvements
  • Update administrative policies and procedures manuals
  • Prepare agendas and record minutes of meetings
  • Manage action items from meetings

In addition, they may:

  • Compile data, statistics and other information
  • Supervise and train staff in office procedures and software
  • Organize conferences

Work environment

Administrative assistants work in a wide variety of industries in the public and private sectors. Although they generally work Monday to Friday, most administrative assistants have smartphones with access to email and may be required to be available on call.

Some administrative assistants work with placement agencies—often called “temp agencies”—doing short-term jobs in private businesses and government offices.

Administrative assistants spend most of their time on computers which can put stress on the neck, back, shoulders and eyes. Equipment designed for office work may be required—headsets, for example, for those who spend a lot of time on the telephone.

Insights from industry

Advances in technology are changing the way this job is done. Most managers and professional employers now answer their own telephones and do their own typing. This means administrative assistants have a more complex support role than in the past.

As administrative assistants move away from taking dictation and typing, they have taken on other tasks. These include developing spreadsheets, drafting letters and other correspondence, maintaining databases, updating websites and creating presentation materials. As a result, people with a wide range of computer skills are in higher demand. As well, many positions require some experience in project management or co-ordination.

Career paths and resources

Career paths

With experience and further education, administrative assistants may progress to other administrative positions. These include senior or executive administrative assistant, clerical supervisor, business manager, project manager or office manager.

Additional resources