How do I Choose the Best Office Administration Career?

G. Melanson

Each person’s definition of the “best” job in the workforce depends on what he or she values most in a career, and office administration jobs are no different. Choosing the best office administration career entails finding one that offers the most of what you’re looking for in a job, whether that’s a large salary, health benefits, flexible hours, opportunity for growth, or a combination thereof.

When looking at a job listing, be sure to check whether it involves telecommuting options or if all work is done on site.
When looking at a job listing, be sure to check whether it involves telecommuting options or if all work is done on site.

For most people, a comfortable salary ranks high amongst the qualities they value in a job. Compared to other professions, office administration careers are not generally considered to be amongst the highest-paying jobs in the workforce. However, an office administration career that carries a high level of responsibility and is part of a high-paying corporation or government department will usually offer a higher salary and better benefits than other careers in office administration. For example, an office administration job within the federal or state government typically pays more and offers better benefits than an office admin job within the private sector. As well, large and reputable corporations usually pay higher salaries and offer better benefits than small or not-for-profit organizations.

People who want to work in office administration may have to spend a lot of time working up through the ranks in a corporation.
People who want to work in office administration may have to spend a lot of time working up through the ranks in a corporation.

In addition to salary and benefits, parents in particular often value flexible hours in a career, which could mean the opportunity to set their own hours, work from home, or occasionally leave the office for interim periods when family needs arise. The best office administration career for someone with these priorities would involve telecommuting or remote working. For example, an administrative position which involves a high volume of paperwork that could be taken home could be compared with a front-desk receptionist or customer service representative position. In addition, a position such as an executive assistant which entails working closely with one of the organization’s key decision-makers is more likely to offer flexible hours at the executive’s discretion.

An office administrator may be responsible for scheduling executive meetings.
An office administrator may be responsible for scheduling executive meetings.

For those who are interested in an office administration career where there is room to learn on the job and acquire new skills, a startup company with few employees is the best place to apply. Within startup companies, administrative positions often call for a jack-of-all-trades who can handle non-administrative responsibilities outside of the typical admin job description. As an administrator in a startup company gradually takes on more responsibilities and learns on the job, he or she can then apply those skills toward a promotion within the company, or carry them to another position outside of the organization.

An administrative assistant may be responsible for greeting clients.
An administrative assistant may be responsible for greeting clients.

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Discussion Comments


@sunshined - There isn't much you can do to change the salary scale of office administrators, but I chose to look at these jobs as stepping stones.

I have worked at a few office jobs along the way, and many times these have led to higher paying positions within the company.

If you can show that you are dependable and efficient, there are many times where you can move up the ranks.

At one of the office jobs I worked at, I was reimbursed for taking college courses. After a few years, I was able to earn my degree and the company paid for it.

I was then able to move into a better position that paid a higher salary with great benefits and perks.


I find it frustrating that many office administration jobs are not very high paying. One of the most stressful jobs I had was being an office administrator for an investment company.

I worked for several brokers who were all very busy with heavy schedules. Trying to keep everything organized and running smoothly was not an easy task. I found myself being spread too thin and very stressed.

They all depended on me to make sure things ran smoothly, but I didn't get much appreciation for it. I tried not to think about the amount of money they were making compared to my small salary.

I am sure the salary ranges differ from company to company, but overall, most office administrator jobs don't pay very much.


I don't have a college education so most all of my jobs have been office jobs. Since I am a single parent, having health benefits is one of the biggest priorities for me.

I also like to work for companies that offer flex time. The company I currently work for, lets you choose the time of day you start your work day.

It is important to me that I am home with my kids in the morning before they go to school. This gives me the opportunity to drop them off at school before I head to work.

I also have the flexibility of changing this around. If I need to leave early for one of their activities, I have the option of starting earlier in the day.

Having this kind of flexibility makes me appreciate working for a company that understands how important this is.


@Kat919 - It's interesting that you mentioned starting out with a temp company. That is how I ended up with the best job I ever had.

I was looking for part time work while my kids were in school, and found a job advertised working in the office of a company from 9-3.

The hours were perfect, and after a few months on the job, I was offered a permanent position with them.

Once my kids were older, I worked my way into a higher position, but the experience I gained as an office administrator gave me the skills I needed to succeed.


@Kat919 - I think that you have really good advice, but I want to play devil's advocate and encourage people who have read this article to consider healthcare careers instead. There's the potential for better pay and better job security, as health careers tend to be in high demand, while receptionists are too often a dime a dozen.

Not all health jobs are "gross" - there are options like pharmacy tech or radiology tech that involve little or no grossness. And some of them have short eight-week type training programs. But if you can handle a little "gross," why not become a dental hygienist, registered nurse, etc.? You'll make much better money on an associate's degree (think mid or even upper five figures) than you would doing anything else!


I always encourage people who are interested in office administration after college (or after high school - but a degree will take you further) to sign up with a temp agency. It's a great way to get inside different kinds of companies and see how they work and what different jobs really look like.

Temps generally don't get any benefits, but if you're young, you can stay on your parents' health insurance while you explore careers. You might have to start out with something like stuffing envelopes, but as you prove yourself, you will get more responsible posts (generally starting with receptionist) and ones that last longer. These can even turn into job offers and careers.

Never forget that most jobs are found through networking, so anything that lets you meet a lot of different people in your desired field is a good thing!

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