Administrative Certifications: Benefits, Types and Examples

Updated March 10, 2023

Administrative work is an important part of ensuring the business processes of a company run smoothly. You can find administrative roles in various industries, which can allow you to explore different career paths within fields that interest you. Having certifications can help you find a specialized administrative field and provide you with opportunities for career advancement. In this article, we discuss what an administrative professional is, types of administrative certifications, benefits and skills needed for administrative work.

Related: 9 Jobs for Business Administration Professionals: Salary and Responsibilities

What is an administrative professional?

An administrative professional is a person who manages the daily office tasks of a company to help with the work processes of their coworkers. These daily tasks can include receiving guests, answering phone calls, responding to emails, filing paperwork or generating reports. Depending on the field of work and level of position, an administrative professional may have more industry-specific or high-sensitivity work, such as with human resources or project management. As an administrative professional, you can pursue certifications to develop your administrative skills and certify your qualifications.

Related: Business Administration: Definition and 27 Career Paths

Types of administrative certifications

The categories of administrative certifications you can pursue include:

  • Assisting: You can find different levels of employment as an administrative assistant, such as general or executive positions. Administrative assisting certifications also apply to specific industries, like medical or legal practices.

  • Payroll: You can focus your administrative work on particular business aspects like payroll. Payroll programs teach you how to process and record billings, payments, receivables and other company finances.

  • Project management: As an administrative professional, you can specialize in managing projects and organizing personnel. A project management certification can provide you with opportunities to oversee larger-scale teams and developments.

  • Human resources: HR is an important part of business administration and the optimization of company resources. Having an HR certification focuses your administrative work on managing personnel distribution, training and hiring.

  • Office software: Work processes use different office software systems to conduct daily responsibilities and task automation. Certified knowledge in specific business programs can be beneficial for you to adapt to the different systems that companies use.

Related: What Are Certifications? Definition, Benefits, Types of Certifications and Examples

8 administrative certifications

Consider the following certifications for your administrative career:

1. Administrative Assistant Certification

The National Career Certification Board (NCCB) offers the Administrative Assistant Certification exam, which you can take online with an artificial intelligence proctoring software to oversee your test. To prepare for the certification exam, you can purchase a practice exam with two tests with three opportunities to pass them, each without a time limit. After completing your practice exams and preparation, you can sign up and pay for the certification exam that comprises 80 questions with a two-hour time limit. An Administrative Assistant Certification allows you to expand and demonstrate your knowledge of general assisting roles within an office setting.

2. Certified Administrative Professional (CAP)

The International Association of Administrative Professionals (IIAP) offers a Certified Administrative Professional exam twice per year, once in the fall and once in spring. As a prerequisite, you can have a bachelor's degree with two years of work experience, an associate degree with three years of experience or four years of administrative professional work. To apply for the CAP test, you can apply with your work experience and educational background for verification. The National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) accredits CAP exam certification, which is valid for three years and allows you to perform higher-level roles or executive assisting roles for teams or individuals.

3. Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)

You can take the Certified Associate in Project Management exam through the Project Management Institute to certify your knowledge of people and project management. The exam is available online, and certification is valid for five years. As a prerequisite to the exam, you can have a high school diploma or equivalent along with 23 hours of education through the Project Management Institute's project management basics courses found online. Project management covers the management of team personnel and scheduling for project performance optimization.

4. Fundamental Payroll Certification (FPC)

You can get a Fundamental Payroll Certification through the American Payroll Association (APA) with or without APA membership. The exam is available for you to take online in the fall or spring and it includes information on updated payroll regulations. To take the exam, you can apply on the APA website during the registration period for the season you want to take your exam. Payroll certifications demonstrate your accounting skills and can help you specialize in finance administration.

5. HR Certified Professional (IPMA-CP)

The International Public Management Association for Human Resources (IPMA-HR) offers courses and conferences on HR administration and management. The HR Certified Professional certification is an entry and mid-level test that requires you to take IPMA-HR's Public Sector HR essentials course. IPMA-CP certification is valid for three years, which you can recertify through attending HR courses and conferences. HR courses teach you hiring, retention and management practices for maximizing company resources.

6. HR Senior Certified Professional (IPMA-SCP)

IPMA-HR has a higher level of certification for senior professionals, which is valid for three years. HR Senior Certified Professional is for senior-level HR administrative professionals such as managers, directors and executives. As a prerequisite to the exam, you can either take IPMA-HR's Developing Competencies for HR success course or submit an online application. With a senior-level certification, you can find executive human resource roles or positions with higher salaries.

7. Microsoft Office Specialist Certification (MOS)

Microsoft Office Specialist Certification exams don't have prerequisites for you to take one of their certification tests. You can choose which version of the Microsoft Office suites and programs you want to take the exam for, and it's available online with a virtual proctor or in-person at a test center. These exams have a combination of multiple-choice, short answer and simulation questions to test your knowledge of Microsoft Office software and you can receive a certificate for each program you pass.

8. Professional Administrative Certification of Excellence (PACE)

The American Society of Administrative Professionals offers the Professional Administrative Certification of Excellence credential to certify that you've developed administrative skills that can be valuable to employers. PACE certification enrollment includes four learning modules covering communication, digital management, people management and project management, along with a study guide to help you prepare for the multiple-choice exam. After enrollment, you have a year to complete the exam and three opportunities to pass. The Institute for Credentialing Excellence (ICE) recognizes PACE certifications, which are valid for two years.

Related: Is a Master's in Health Care Administration Worth It?

Benefits of administrative certifications

The benefits of obtaining administrative certifications include opportunities that allow you to keep your industry knowledge updated and show employers your administrative expertise. Having certification programs and titles on your resume can serve as a supplement to your resume experience if you have little work experience. These certifications show your knowledge and education in administrative work and training, and having them might help earn promotions or higher salaries. The preparation, studies and recertification processes of obtaining and maintaining your certified title can ensure you remain updated on developments in technology and regulations to improve your administrative performance.

Related: How To Become a Corporate Administrator in 4 Steps

Skills needed for administrative certifications

You can develop these skills to help you succeed in administrative work:

  • Communication: Administrative professionals often communicate with other professionals and guests to respond to inquires and set up meetings. This verbal or written communication is clear and concise to ensure there is mutual understanding between all parties involved.

  • Customer service: As an administrative professional, you may serve as the point of contact between company personnel and guests. Receiving guests and directing them through the proper channels requires well-developed customer service skills.

  • Data entry: An administrative professional documents important business information and data. They can quickly enter data and review it to remove any information errors or discrepancies.

  • File management: As an administrative professional, you oversee physical and digital filing systems to ensure that files are located quickly. Managing files includes auditing, sorting, updating and organizing them so important information is accessible for authorized personnel.

  • Time management: Administrative professionals ensure routine business functions operate smoothly and that they can manage their own time along with assisting team members with their scheduling. Managing time includes understanding how to prioritize certain tasks and how to multitask to optimize their time.

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