Go through our comprehensive job guide to learn more about becoming an Administrative Assistant in the UK.
What does an Administrative Assistant do?
As an administrative assistant, it would be your job to deal with the day-to-day office work for your employer.
Your tasks would typically include:
- dealing with incoming and outgoing post
- maintaining stationery supplies
- answering the telephone and directing calls
- reception duties such as greeting and looking after visitors
- typing and formatting documents such as letters and reports
- updating computer databases
- using office equipment such as printers, photocopiers and fax machines
- managing diaries
- making travel arrangements for staff.
In some jobs you might only handle a few of these tasks, in others you might carry out all the administrative duties in your department.
You may be known by various other job titles such as clerical assistant or office administrator.
Working Hours for Administrative Assistants
In most full-time jobs you would work between 35 and 40 hours a week, Monday to Friday. Flexible hours, part-time work and temporary work are widely available.
You would be office-based and spend much of your time using a computer.
How much does an Administrative Assistant earn?
Salary and pay information:
Salaries can be anywhere between £16,000 and £23,000 a year, depending on location and responsibility.
Figures are intended as a guideline only.
Entry Requirements for Administrative Assistants
You could get into administrative work with varying levels of experience and qualifications, as entry requirements can vary widely between employers. Some may prefer you to have GCSEs including maths and English, but others may test your keyboard, filing and telephone skills instead of asking for qualifications.
Temporary work (‘temping’) can be a good way of getting experience that may lead to permanent jobs.
You may find it helpful to take a full- or part-time college course in administration before you look for office work, although this is not essential. You could take a wide range of courses, such as:
- OCR Certificates and Diplomas in Administration (Business Professional) at levels 1-3
- BTEC Award or Certificate in Business Administration at levels 1-3
- City & Guilds Award or Certificate in Business and Administration
- Education Development International (EDI) Award, Certificate or Diploma in Business Administration Practice at levels 1-3
- the 14-19 Diploma in Business, Administration and Finance.
You may be able to get into office work through an Apprenticeship scheme. The range of Apprenticeships available in your area will depend on the local jobs market and the types of skills employers need from their workers. To find out more, visit the Apprenticeships website.
Training and Development
You will do most of your training on the job. Your employer may also arrange some formal training courses either in-house or at a local training centre.
You may also get the chance to gain qualifications such as:
- NVQ Awards, Certificates and Diplomas in Business and Administration at levels 1-4
- certificates in secretarial skills such as text production or keyboard skills from OCR, Edexcel (BTEC) or City & Guilds
- IT qualifications such as OCR Certificate/Diploma for IT Users (CLAiT Plus) or the European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL).
Qualifications may be available through work-based training or part-time study at a local college.
Skills and Knowledge
- a methodical and organised approach
- good communication skills
- the ability to work well as part of a team
- computer literacy and good typing skills
- a good level of English spelling and grammar
- accuracy and attention to detail
- concentration, for performing routine tasks
- the ability to use your own initiative but also to know when to refer to a supervisor.
Almost every kind of company and organisation in the UK employs administrative assistants. You could work anywhere from a small business to a large employer such as the civil service or NHS.
Jobs are advertised in the local press, Jobcentre Plus and recruitment agencies.
In larger organisations, you could be promoted to administrative officer, secretary, supervisor, or office manager. In some companies you could transfer into other departments such as accounting or IT.