Behind every great business is a team of great office administrators – no business can function without them. It takes a special kind of person to be a fantastic office administrator – and that person could be you.
Office administration positions are amongst the most frequently advertised and highly sought-after jobs, providing job security, variety and responsibility, opportunities to work in diverse workplaces, and an excellent general training ground. Opportunities in office administration exist in every industry, from creative to corporate to not-for-profit organisations, as well as in small and large businesses.
To excel in an office administration career you must have robust organisational skills, be fast and efficient but detail-oriented, able to prioritise tasks, and able to work autonomously as well as part of a team. Highly developed communication skills are crucial as communicating and coordinating with other members of staff is a major part of the role. Employers also want administration staff who are flexible and have a positive ‘can do’ attitude.
Most administration positions require advanced MS Office skills, especially in Word and Excel. Having strong knowledge and experience of various computer applications is usually an important requirement for employers, as office administration workers are often responsible for generating documents and reports, keeping business records and maintaining databases. Excellent writing and numerical skills are also a must – and a fast typing speed doesn’t go astray either.
Completing a training course in business administration may give you a distinct advantage when you’re applying for jobs, as will any training in finance, bookkeeping, IT, payroll or OH&S.
There is a range of roles in administration. Many companies advertise junior office administration positions, which provide a great opportunity for high school leavers to gain experience and build a career, or for students to work in during summer breaks or part-time while studying. Many people enter office administration roles to get their foot in the door in competitive industries such as advertising, PR or publishing. Office temping is also a great gig for those who are between jobs or who just like working in constantly changing environments.
Office administration may also be a great option for those who require a more flexible work arrangement. Some companies have part-time or casual administration roles, and many more are open to job-sharing arrangements for roles that require full-time hours.
Receptionists manage the front of an office, greeting clients, suppliers and visitors as well as directing phone calls, emails and mail. Strong organisational, communication and customer service skills are vital requirements for receptionists to manage their varied tasks. Other responsibilities may include managing appointments and meeting room bookings, keeping the front desk tidy, providing administrative support, creating documents or reports, data entry, arranging travel, managing stationery and other stock, and ad hoc tasks.
Receptionists are often considered the face of a business; as a result, professional personal presentation and a vibrant, friendly disposition are highly favoured for this role.
Administration assistants cover a wide variety of tasks and responsibilities depending on the business’s requirements. Administration assistants may be required to prepare, file or archive documents, sort the mail, send mail or other communication to clients, answer phones or manage stock, as well as fulfil general office and ad hoc tasks. Administration assistants may also be required to organise and manage events for staff or external stakeholders.
Generally office managers are responsible for organisational and other office duties necessary to effectively and efficiently run a business. Tasks include filing and integrating information to be used by staff and clients, managing internal staff and external client communications, maintaining office equipment and supplies, taking care of mail and banking, and managing invoicing and payroll. IT skills are also highly regarded as office managers are often required to provide IT support to other staff members.
Office manager positions usually require candidates to have strong administration experience and training, and sometimes competency in HR and OH&S. Office managers for smaller professional businesses may even find themselves working in areas such as marketing or website maintenance.
Personal assistants (PAs) and executive assistants (EAs) provide administrative support to the executives of a company or organisation. An EA’s role is usually more focused on organising the schedule and activities of the executive rather than the general running of the office. Tasks such as diary management, reviewing incoming mail, emails, submissions and reports for prioritisation, preparing agendas, organising meetings, research, creating reports and organising travel and guest arrangements are usually part of the EA’s role. Because EAs work closely with executives and are usually exposed to confidential information, this role requires a high level of professionalism and discretion.
At the highest levels, working as a PA or EA can be extremely lucrative – top executive EAs can earn over $100 000.
Virtual assistants (VAs) provide remote freelance or contract administration or personal assistance support to small businesses. This job is perfect for experienced administration staff who want to run their own business from home. Virtual assistants usually manage tasks such as invoicing and processing payments, distribution of products, creating documents and reports, handling email enquiries and any other administrative tasks that can be managed by email or online. Proficiency with the Internet and Skype and knowledge of online filing systems are necessary to work as a VA. Business management skills are also a must for VAs to manage their own small business, whether they service one or two major clients or numerous smaller businesses.
There are also specialist administration roles such as legal or medical administration staff. These roles require specialised knowledge of terminology and procedures unique to the law firm or medical centre environment. Legal secretaries may be required to prepare correspondence and legal papers such as motions, complaints, summonses and subpoenas under the supervision of an attorney. Administration staff in medical practices need to be familiar with hospital or laboratory procedures, record-keeping, insurance rules and billing practices.
While many legal or medical employers require administration staff with experience or training in the industry, there are also opportunities for non-industry experienced staff to be trained on the job.