How to become a Civil Service Administrative Officer. Read our comprehensive job guide to learn more about this great career in the UK.
What does a Civil Service Administrative Assistant do?
Administrative officers and administrative assistants in the civil service work in a wide range of departments and agencies that deliver services to the public and develop government policies.
Your main tasks at administrative officer (AO) or administrative assistant (AA) grade would be to deal with customers, update records and carry out routine clerical duties. Your day-to-day work would depend on which department or agency you worked for, but might include:
- handling enquiries from the public in person, by telephone or by letter
- updating computerised and paper-based records
- processing benefit payments
- researching information
- filing, photocopying and other administrative tasks.
With experience, you could deal with more complex enquiries or complaints, or take on more specialist work related to your department.
In a full-time job you would work around 36 hours a week, Monday to Friday. Some departments provide a service outside normal office hours so you may need to work evening and Saturday shifts in these.
Part-time work, job sharing and temporary work are all widely available.
You would be based in an open plan office, which may be open to the public.
How much does a Civil Service Administrative Officer earn?
Salary and pay information
- Administrative assistants start on around £12,000 a year.
- Administrative officers start on around £14,500 a year.
- With experience and good performance this can rise to between £16,000 and £20,000 a year.
Figures are intended as a guideline only.
Each department and agency organises its own recruitment and sets its own entry requirements.
You do not need formal qualifications for many jobs. Instead, you would take an aptitude test to prove your ability in areas like teamwork, communication and number skills. However, some departments may ask for five GCSEs (A-C) or similar qualifications for certain jobs.
You must also meet the nationality requirement. All jobs are open to British nationals and around 75% are also open to Commonwealth citizens or European Union nationals. See the Civil Service website for more information.
Training and Development
You will have several weeks of in-depth training when you start your job, and also learn on the job from experienced staff.
You may get the chance to take nationally recognised work-based qualifications relevant to your particular job, such as:
- NVQ levels 1-4 in Business and Administration (or the new NVQ Award, Certificate and Diploma in Business and Administration at levels 1-4, available from August 2010)
- NVQ levels 2-4 in Customer Service (NVQ Certificate in Customer Service at levels 1 and 2, and NVQ Diploma in Customer Service at levels 3 and 4 from August 2010)
- NVQ levels 1-2 in Contact Centre Operations.
The civil service is committed to training and you would have access to in-house training and development throughout your career.
Skills and Knowledge
- good spoken and written communication skills
- the ability to work well as part of a team
- good organisational and time management skills
- accuracy and attention to detail
- respect for confidential information
- basic computer skills
- the ability to follow set procedures.
The civil service employs around half a million people, making it one of the country’s largest employers. Jobs may be advertised in the local and national press, Jobcentre Plus and on civil service websites.
A clear promotion structure is in place. You would usually be promoted from administrative officer to executive officer (junior manager).