Advancing your career as an administrative assistant

Take the Journey: From Administrative Assistant to Beyond

As an administrative assistant, you play a pivotal role in your company. Really, your boss wouldn't be able to function without you! Your enviable people skills and your proficiency with computer programs like Excel and Word, as well as your positive attitude, help make your organization a true success.

Just because you're great at your job, though, doesn't mean you should stay in it forever. On the contrary, you should make it a point to go after your dreams and advance your career so you can make more money and have greater job satisfaction.

To make the leap from administrative assistant to beyond, consider pursuing one of the following jobs.

Medical Secretary

So you think you're smart? Some industries require that their secretaries have specialized knowledge.

As a medical secretary, you will need to know specific medical terminology, and you may have to transcribe notes. You'll also need to familiarize yourself with HIPAA regulations in order to protect patient privacy. Your employer might ask that you complete training in coding, billing, and related topics. There are a lot of little details to keep in mind, and you'll need to have a sharp mind and be a good learner so you or the medical professional you work for doesn't land in hot water.

Often, candidates don't need a college degree to secure a job as a medical secretary, or a medical receptionist.

In some cases, working as a medical secretary might not be a step forward in your career; it might even pay less than work as an administrative secretary. Therefore, you should be choosy when you're looking for work in this field. It might help move you forward, but it might also be a step back.

Legal Secretary

A legal secretary also needs specialized training. You'll have to help prepare legal documents, such as motions, complaints, and summonses. While a college degree isn't always required for legal secretaries, you should try to become certified. There are two certification options,:

  • The National Association for Legal Secretaries
  • Legal Secretaries International

These two organizations offer a host of different certification programs, so you should choose the one that best fits your circumstances and the specific legal field that you're entering.

If you work as a legal secretary, you may eventually decide to become a paralegal, a job that requires more in-depth knowledge of the law.

The average annual pay for a legal secretary is $45,000, though this can vary widely depending on your experience and your employer. In some cities, such as Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., the median pay for legal secretaries is over $60,000.

Administrative Supervisor or Administrative Manager

As an administrative supervisor, you will have more responsibility on your shoulders than you did as a secretary. Administrative supervisors oversee the happenings within an office, managing records, coordinating schedules, and training their team members. If you have your eye on an administrative supervisor job, work on developing the following skills:

  • Computer skills. Go beyond the basics and familiarize yourself with any industry-specific programs that may be used in your field.
  • Interpersonal communication. You'll need to be able to get your point across clearly and tactfully.

Some companies have administrative managers rather than administrative supervisors. You might need a bachelor's degree in business administration, human resources, or finance. Look for schools that offer online and nighttime classes so you can continue gaining experience while you strive to reach the next level in your career.

Other Jobs That Might Advance Your Career

There are several other jobs that might help you move forward in your career. Some of these are horizontal moves, and some have the same basic definition and duties as an administrative secretary. However, when you are looking for jobs, you should be aware of these keywords so you know what to look for if you're hoping for a change.

The skills and experience you have gained as an administrative secretary serve as the ideal foundation for a range of other jobs, whether you want to gain specialized knowledge or advance to a supervisory position. Explore the job market in your area and make a wise choice about how you want to train yourself to take the next step in your career.