Learn About Being an Office Administrator

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published December 10, 2019

What does an office administrator do?

An office administrator is an administrative professional who performs a variety of clerical tasks to help an organization’s operations run efficiently. Depending on their industry, office administrators’ primary duties may include providing administrative support to staff, organizing files, arranging travel for executives, performing bookkeeping and processing payroll. Additional responsibilities may include:

  • Overseeing administrative functions and supervising other members of the administrative staff

  • Greeting clients, answering phones and replying to client emails

  • Operating and maintaining office equipment such as copy machines, fax machines and computers

  • Conducting research and compiling reports for supervisors and other employees

  • Scheduling meetings and events, and organizing any necessary materials for them

  • Assisting human resources with hiring and onboarding new employees

Average salary

Office administrator salaries vary depending on employees’ experience level, job responsibilities and geographic location.

  • Common salary in the U.S.: $15.31 per hour

  • Some salaries range from $7.25 to $29.85 per hour.

Office administrator requirements 

You may need to fill several requirements to obtain a position as an office administrator, including:

Education

Most employers require candidates to have a high school diploma, while others may require an associate or bachelor’s degree. Aspiring office administrators in high school can take classes in word processing, spreadsheets and other computer skills to increase their employability. Those who have already graduated high school may also choose to take courses at a technical school about office procedures and database software. Candidates with an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in business or business administration can benefit from classes in bookkeeping, database management and business communication. 

Training

Once hired, office administrators go through on-the-job training, which typically lasts between a few weeks and one month. During training, they learn company operational practices and procedures. Office administrators working in technical or medical fields may receive more extensive training on the database a company uses to manage patient medical records.

Certifications

Both office administrators and aspiring office administrators can benefit from participating in optional certification programs. For example, Microsoft Office Specialist certification trains people in using different Microsoft Office products, such as Word, Excel, Outlook and OneNote.

Those who have clerical experience or who are currently working as office administrators may consider becoming a Certified Administrative Professional. This certificate combines real-world administrative knowledge with applied concepts and theories.

To participate in the CAP program, office administrators must have four years of administrative experience, or an associate’s or bachelor’s degree and two years of administrative experience. The certification program covers topics and skills such as managing records, written communication, scheduling, human resources and general office procedures.

Skills

Here are some essential skills office administrators need to do their job efficiently:

Organization

Office administrators typically perform tasks for more than one staff member or department within a company. Organizational skills are essential for duties such as maintaining the company’s calendar of events and managing deadlines for different departments simultaneously.

Communication skills

Office administrators need to have excellent communication skills and active listening skills to collaborate with staff and address departments’ specific needs for tasks and projects. For example, when working on a team project, office administrators need to ask relevant questions, develop a plan for execution, delegate tasks and update colleagues on the project’s progress. 

Computer skills

Knowledge of computer applications and software is essential, as much of an office administrator’s time is spent working on a computer. Typical duties include entering data, creating reports, answering emails and conducting research online. 

Research and analysis skills

Office administrators may be asked to research new software the company is considering using or to analyze data for staff. For example, when preparing a presentation for a meeting, the office administrator may need to demonstrate company growth by comparing current year statistics with data from previous years. 

Attention to detail

Office administrators are tasked with completing assignments that require a strong attention to detail, such as booking travel arrangements, entering data and proofreading documents. 

Flexibility

The type of work these professionals do may change daily. Office administrators need to be able to adapt and rearrange their day to give assistance where the need is greatest. For example, they may be asked to postpone working on routine data entry to provide administrative support for a department to meet a deadline. 

Office administrator work environment

Office administrators typically work full time in an office environment, though some may work part time. They work in a variety of industries, such as education, healthcare and business. Office administrators spend much of the day sitting at a desk and using company equipment, such as computers, phones, printers and scanners.

How to become an office administrator

Use these steps to obtain a position as an office administrator:

1. Gain the necessary education and skills

Applicants to office administrator positions should first earn their high school diploma. If their high school offers it, they should take office skills classes and specialized computer classes in word processing, spreadsheets or database management. Technical school classes or certification programs can help candidates gain the skills necessary to perform the duties of an office administrator.

2. Create a strong resume

Research open office administrator positions in your area, and update your resume and cover letter to highlight skills most relevant to these job descriptions. Include your highest level of education and any related work experience.

3. Prepare for interviews

You can prepare for interviews by coming up with example answers that demonstrate your key skills, such as communication, attention to detail and interpersonal skills. Practice your responses to common interview questions. 

Office administrator job description example

SeaShell Healthcare is seeking a detail-oriented office administrator with excellent interpersonal and communication skills to manage the day-to-day administrative tasks at our midtown location. The office administrator will work closely with staff to provide administrative support and delegate tasks to members of the administrative team to facilitate efficient workflow. The office administrator will also arrange tours of the facility for new families, assist human resources with onboarding new hires and manage payroll for staff. The office administrator will primarily work with SeaShell staff and occasionally perform duties at the reception desk.

Related careers

Those interested in working as an office administrator may also be interested in the following positions:

  • Receptionist

  • Office manager

  • Administrative assistant

  • Executive assistant

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