Study Office Applications: Associate, Training & Online Degree Info

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What will you learn in an office applications training or degree program? Read about degree requirements, the pros and cons of training courses and an associate's degree and potential careers.
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Office Applications Training Courses and Associate's: Degrees at a Glance

Office applications continually advance, achieve more complexity and are becoming commonplace in business, manufacturing and production environments. Technology is replacing many of the functions performed by employees. Employers expect nothing less than basic computer proficiency, but job candidates who possess updated skills in multiple office applications enjoy the best job prospects.

Office applications training courses provide the knowledge required to operate the latest software proficiently. The associate's degree offers a stepping-stone to a bachelor's degree program and requires the completion of general education coursework. Schools offer these programs under a division of business administration or technology.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) stated that office technology training can lead to a number of administrative and office related careers. Administrative occupations are expected to grow between an average and a faster-than-average rate over the 2010-2020 decade.

Certificate Associate's
Who is this degree for? Individuals interested in updating their technical skills for promotion or re-entry into the workforce People who want to establish a foundation for higher education or who want to work in a business setting as administrative support or information processors
Common Career Paths (with approximate mean annual salary) - Receptionist or information clerk ($27,000)*
- General secretary or administrative assistant ($33,000)*
- Bookkeeping, accounting or auditing clerk ($36,000)*
- Career paths are similar, although an associate's degree will prepare you to specialize or attain an increased salary
- Executive secretary or executive administrative assistant ($48,000)*
- Administrative services manager ($87,000 - employees with several years of experience earned this salary)*
Time to Completion Up to 1 year full-time 2 years full-time
Common Graduation Requirements - Roughly 30 credits in technology-focused courses - Roughly 60 credits in general education and core courses
Prerequisites High school diploma or equivalent High school diploma or equivalent
Online Availability Yes Yes

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures).


Training Courses in Office Technology

The office technology certificate program offers updated technical knowledge and skills for individuals seeking entry-level administrative or information processing jobs, promotion or re-entry into the workforce. Colleges may offer the program under a school of administrative or office technology. Upon completion of the program, you will be able to perform general office tasks using the latest software upgrades at the intermediate or advanced level. Some programs offer the training required to take industry-standard certification examinations.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Certificate programs can boost your marketability when competing against high school graduates
  • Short program length provides skills quickly and allows for faster entry into the field
  • Integrated certification coursework adds value and will prepare you to immediately take certification exams

Cons

  • Program length may affect access to financial aid
  • Programs may not transfer to an associate's degree
  • You will be competing with people with higher education

Courses and Requirements

The certificate program requires roughly 30 credits of coursework in beginner, intermediate or advanced office technology, depending on your current level of proficiency. Programs usually require student testing in typing speed and current technical knowledge. Some programs require 26 credits in office technology and 4 credits distributed amongst English or elective courses. Following are some common courses offered by the program:

  • Office transcription
  • Keyboarding
  • Word-processing applications
  • Spreadsheet applications
  • Data entry
  • Graphic presentations

Online Course Info

Several schools offer the office technology certificate in a distance-education format. Schools usually design online programs for people interested in updating their skills, seeking to re-enter the workforce or those interested in career advancement. Online office applications training programs provide coursework similar to the campus-based option and may take you up to 1 year to complete. You will need access to the appropriate technology programs to complete your online education.

Stand Out with This Degree

The most common and easily accessible way to assure employers of your technical knowledge is through certification. The certificate program you select may prepare you for standard certifications. The Microsoft Office Specialist certification validates your ability to work with word-processing, spreadsheet or database programs. The company confers Core, Expert or Master credentials, and seeking Master certification will boost your marketability. Participating in collaborative projects during your studies will also increase your experience and hands-on knowledge.

Associate's Degree in Office Applications

The associate's degree program offers general education courses combined with technology and elective coursework. Programs transfer to a bachelor's degree when the college has an articulation agreement in place with a 4-year institution. Colleges structure associate's degrees to provide a focus in administrative assistant, office technology or information processing. While the certificate focuses on productivity software, some associate's degree programs provide a basic knowledge of multiple applications, including web design and development topics. The associate's degree can prepare you for entry-level support opportunities in information technology.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Programs transfer to bachelor's degree programs
  • Employers are seeking candidates with higher education
  • Some programs offer internships to provide valuable experience

Cons

  • Salaries are comparable to those received by certificate holders
  • Competition against bachelor's degree holders may be keen
  • Higher education will provide the best career opportunities

Courses and Requirements

The associate's degree requires roughly 60 credits in general education, technical and elective courses. The electives provide you the opportunity to focus your education in an area that interests you. You will learn business basics coupled with technical courses in web, productivity and operating system software. Some common courses include introduction to Unix, database software, Windows applications, computer science, accounting software, financial accounting and electronic spreadsheets.

Online Course Info

Online office applications programs exist and schools offer them as a complete online experience. You will participate with students and instructors in collaborative projects to produce documents or other technical products. Online associate's degrees require approximately 60 credits in general education and core courses and you may need to complete a distance-education orientation course. In addition, access to the appropriate technologies is essential to a successful experience.

Stand Out with This Degree

Choosing an associate's degree that will prepare you for industry-standard certifications is essential to stretching your degree's worth. The type of certification the program prepares you for depends on the nature of the program (administrative assistant or office technology, for example). Seeking the Microsoft Office Specialist certification, at minimum, will boost your marketability. There are other organizations, such as Cisco and Oracle, that offer certification programs and choosing the appropriate credential depends on your career goals and education.

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