How do I Become a Senior Administrative Assistant?

G. Melanson

Over the last 30 years, the diverse range of tasks assigned to administrative professionals has increased considerably, and encouraged the working world to broaden outdated definitions of a secretary or receptionist. These days, administrative professionals require a much more sophisticated skill set than in the past. The modern administrative professional – particularly a senior administrative assistant – is expected to be an office jack-of-all-trades, contributing to virtually all areas of the organization’s infrastructure, including marketing, accounting, human resources and other departments. Someone who aspires to become a senior administrative assistant can acquire the necessary skill set through a combination of educational and professional training.

A senior administrative assistant working.
A senior administrative assistant working.

Because written communication is such a big part of a senior administrative assistant’s role, typing skills are critical in order to become a senior administrative assistant. Although the age of the Internet has provided many people with ample opportunities to practice their typing speed and accuracy, a formal typing course is a much faster and efficient way to acquire professional typing skills. Many high schools and community colleges offer typing courses that help build a firm foundation for the high volume of typing required in a senior admin role. When a person applies to become a senior administrative assistant, the employer will most likely ask the candidate what his or her typing speed is. A range of 50 to 70 words per minute (wpm) is the average expected speed of administrative professionals; however, certain senior administrative assistant positions may require a higher speed.

A senior administrative assistant working.
A senior administrative assistant working.

Other skills required to become a senior administrative assistant may include basic knowledge of accounting, human resources, marketing, IT, or other departments. Many general business programs at the diploma or certificate level offer a comprehensive overview of the tasks in these departments which are often assigned to senior administrative assistants. Certain senior administrative assistant jobs may also entail supervising other staff, in which case a management course would provide a good base for the responsibility of overseeing other positions.

If one aspires to become a senior administrative assistant and is already employed in an administrative capacity, there is the potential to move up the ranks without extra educational training. Employers are often more inclined to promote internal staff, such as a receptionist or entry-level administrative assistant who wishes to become a senior administrative assistant, versus an external applicant. Compared to outside candidates, internal staff – particularly staff employed in the same department as the job vacancy - already possess valuable working knowledge of the position’s processes. Hiring internally is also often praised as a positive practice which boosts morale within an organization.

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