Studying Administrative Office Technology: Degrees at a Glance
Administrative office technology professionals have strong communication and organizational skills coupled with expertise in emerging business technologies. These workers, who go by a range of job titles, ensure that offices in government agencies, nonprofit organizations and corporate settings run efficiently. A career in this field usually only requires a high school diploma and on-the-job training; however, those formally trained in administrative services may qualify for greater job opportunities.
Job prospects for this field vary by setting. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that medical secretaries would have exceptionally fast job growth of 41% from 2010-2020. Similarly, receptionists and information clerks were expected to see a faster-than-average employment increase of 24%. Administrative services managers and general office clerks were expected to have average employment growth at rates of 15% and 17%, respectively, while there was expected to be slower-than-average growth for general secretaries/administrative assistants and medical secretaries.
|Who is this degree for?||People seeking entry-level administrative support positions||People who wish to pursue a managerial career path|
|Common Career Paths (with approximate median annual salary)|| - Receptionist or information clerk ($26,000)*|
- General office clerk ($27,000)*
- General secretary or administrative assistant ($32,000)*
- Executive secretary ($46,000)*
- Legal secretary ($43,000)*
- Medical secretary ($31,000)*
| - Career paths are similar, although a bachelor's degree might improve job prospects and advancement opportunities |
- First-line supervisor of administrative support workers ($49,000)*
- Administrative services manager ($80,000)*
|Time to Completion||2 years full-time||4 years full-time|
|Common Graduation Requirements||- At least 60 credits||- Roughly 120 credits|
- Internship or cooperative education experience
|Prerequisites||High school diploma||High school diploma|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures).
Associate in Administrative Support Technology
The associate degree program in administrative support technology offers a basic education in current business technologies and prepares you for entry-level opportunities in secretarial and office management. Students develop communication, interpersonal and organizational skills through a series of core administrative assistance courses, electives and general education classes. These programs are often available in the form of Associate of Applied Science degrees, and students may be able to transfer their credits to 4-year universities. Note that some schools offer majors or concentrations specifically in medical or legal office administration, and such training may be beneficial if you intend on working in a healthcare or law office.
Pros and Cons
- Prepares you for employment in any of a vast range of industries, from business to healthcare
- Can help you stand out from job candidates who hold only high school diplomas
- Can lead to transfer to a 4-year bachelor's degree program
- Some programs offer concentrations, like general office, medical or legal administrative assistance
- Some positions paid relatively low salaries ($26,000 median salary for receptionists)*
- Competition against bachelor's degree holders might present a challenge for administrative assistants
- Advancement to a management position may require additional education
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures).
Courses and Requirements
This associate degree program delivers a foundation in office management principles, technical concepts and business skills development. To gain admission to such a program, you may be required to prove a minimal amount of keyboarding skills or take a prerequisite typing course. Throughout your two years of study, you will learn how to use modern office technologies to support business objectives, and you may have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience through an internship in a local office. Other courses you may take include:
- Business law
- Business communications
- Desktop publishing
- Document processing
- Human resources management
- Financial accounting
Online Degree Info
Online associate degree programs in administrative office technology deliver courses similar to campus-based programs and tend to take two years to complete. Schools design distance-education curricula for working professionals, and many offer coursework completely online or in hybrid format. These programs provide you with the technical and computer skills needed to operate office equipment and use software, like spreadsheets and word processors.
Stand Out with This Degree
Technical knowledge and related work experience may help you improve your employment prospects. In fact, the BLS reports that receptionists with work experience and above-average computer skills should enjoy the strongest job prospects, and secretaries and administrative assistants should also possess extensive knowledge of common business software. Consequently, gaining practical experience in the classroom and in an office setting may improve your marketability. Consider participating in class projects and pursuing internship opportunities or field experiences to begin building your work history.
Bachelor's in Administrative Support Technology
This bachelor's degree program prepares you for an administrative support position and may qualify you for more advanced supervisory roles. A bachelor's degree program in administrative office technology provides a business administration background with an emphasis in instruction in current technologies and equipment common in office support. You'll get a broader and more advanced education than in the associate program, with the abilities to choose your own elective coursework or pursue a concentration.
Pros and Cons
- Can lead to management positions that offer relatively high earnings ($80,000 median salary for administrative services managers)*
- May give you an upper hand in the job market for entry-level office support positions
- Administrative assistants with bachelor's degrees are in high demand and often serve as managerial assistants*
- Keen competition for upper-level administrative services management positions**
- Increased stress and responsibility with management positions
- May still need to complete on-the-job training after entering the workforce
- Long hours for administrative services managers (about 25% worked 50 hours or more each week)***
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures), **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2010-2020 projections), ***U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2010 figures).
Courses and Requirements
You will obtain many of the same skills as you would in the associate program, like keyboarding, transcription and word processing; however, you'll also study advanced subjects such as Web design, office management procedures and bookkeeping. You may also be able to select electives in topics of interest; you might, for example, take international marketing or organizational behavior. In addition, some programs require you to participate in an internship or cooperative experience program.
Online Degree Info
Online bachelor's degree programs in this major are available; however, many of them focus on legal and medical office support. Some schools design their programs for working professionals, and you may be required to have completed an associate degree program or a certain amount of prerequisite coursework to be admitted. You'll take courses in marketing, accounting and office management similar to the coursework completed in the on-campus program.
Stand Out with This Degree
You can demonstrate your commitment to the field and improve your chances of employment by earning certification. The International Association of Administrative Professionals offers the Certified Administrative Professional to candidates who pass a certification exam. Earning this credential may also count toward your college credits, depending on your school. Additionally, you might want to familiarize yourself with software specific to office management roles. Along with accounting and spreadsheets programs, these workers use enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, such as Oracle PeopleSoft and Microsoft Dynamics GP.