Administrative Support and Clerical Careers

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Administrative support employees work in practically every industry. Duties vary by the specific office assistant job and company, however duties for often assistants typically involve clerical tasks and back-office duties. Many administrative assistant jobs provide opportunities for increases in pay and career advancement.

This section provides pertinent, reliable information about an array of office assistant careers. We provide detailed information about administrative support jobs such as employment outlook, salary, training, a matching online degree and much more. TheBestSchools.org helps you find the administrative support career right for you.

Once you’re done with this section of our site on Administrative Support and Clerical Careers make sure to go back to our large career guide to keep exploring career options until you find exactly what you’re looking for!

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  Administrative Services Managers

Education and Certifications Administrative Services Managers Need

Although educational requirements for an administrative manager career depend on the organization or business employing them, the minimum requirements include a high school diploma and related work experience. Some businesses require at least a bachelor degree, such as a Bachelor of Business, Bachelor of Engineering, or Bachelor of Facility Management degree.

Administrative service managers may obtain a competency-based professional certification through the International Facility Management Association. The program has two levels: the Facilities Management Professional (FMP) certification and the Certified Facility Manager (CFM) certification. The FMP certification must be obtained first.

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What They Do

Administrative service managers are the jack-of-all-trades for organizations, they plan, direct, coordinate, and follow-up on support services for an organization. In larger companies, the administrative service manager may supervise other support managers, while in smaller companies; the administrative service manager may also function as the business office manager in charge of support services for the entire company.

Administrative management services include a wide array of services. An administrative service manager may do anything from basic administrative tasks such as keeping records, ordering supplies, distributing mail and maintaining facilities, to supervising other administrative personnel and planning budgets for contracts, equipment, and supplies.

An administrative service manager career may include overseeing the maintenance and repair of office machinery, equipment, or electrical and mechanical systems.

An administrative service manager career may include monitoring the business, ensuring it meets environmental, health, and security standards and complies with government regulations. An administrative manager career may also include providing recommendations of policy or procedure changes to improve the business’ operations.

Career Advancement Opportunities

Advancement opportunities for administrative service managers depend on the size of the organization employing them. Administrative service managers may transfer to different departments, work their way up from a technical position or obtain more responsibility.

A Master of Business Administration degree or an advanced degree in a related field increases career advancement opportunities.

Essential Career Information

2017 Median Pay $94,020
2016 number of jobs 281,700
Employment growth forecast, 2016-2026 10%
Entry-level education requirements Bachelor's Degree
2017, wage of lowest 10 percent $52,750
2017, wage of the highest 10 percent $163,480

 

  Bill and Account Collectors

Education and Certifications Bill and Account Collectors Need

Typically, most account collectors and bill collectors need a high school diploma to enter the field. However, some employers prefer candidates who have call center experience and have completed college courses in areas such as computers and accounting.

To begin a bill collector career, training consists of learning policies, understanding specific debt collection regulations, following laws such as those required through the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, learning negotiating skills and computer software programs. The training can take up to three months to complete.

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What They Do

Account collectors and bill collectors work with the financially challenged to help them find alternatives to get out of debt and back on the road to a responsible lifestyle. Bill collectors and account collectors recover payment on outstanding bills, initiate repossession or other collection proceedings if necessary and negotiate repayment plans to help those in debt get the assistance they need to settle overdue bills and charges.

Account collector careers include tracking down people and businesses which have outstanding bills, using the internet or credit bureaus to investigate consumers who have out-of-date addresses and preparing statements to credit offices if consumer fails to return calls or respond. Account collector careers also include negotiating payments with those in financial crisis and suggesting helpful ways to overcome debt or referring the consumer to a debt counselor.

Essential Career Information

2017 Median Pay $35,330
2016 number of jobs -9,100
Employment growth forecast, 2016-26 -3%
Entry-level education requirements High school diploma or equivalent
2017, wage of lowest 10 percent $23,920
2017, wage of the highest 10 percent $55,020

 

  Bookkeepers and Accounting and Auditing Clerks

Education and Certifications Bookkeepers and Accounting and Auditing Clerks Need

Typically, bookkeepers and accounting and auditing clerks only need a high school diploma, basic computer and math skills, bookkeeping software knowledge and on-the-job training to begin a bookkeeper or accounting clerk or auditing career. However in recent years some employers prefer candidates who have an Associate or higher degree, especially in accounting. Many schools provide an Associate degree in Accounting.

Training for bookkeeping, accounting and auditing clerks usually takes about 6 months and includes learning skills such as double-entry bookkeeping and accounting software.

Although not required, some bookkeeping, accounting and auditing clerks obtain certification from the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers or The National Bookkeepers Association. The certification demonstrates an individual has the skills and education necessary to carry out specific accounting tasks and procedures throughout their auditing clerk career. To obtain certification, participants must have at least two years of bookkeeping experience, pass an exam, and follow a code of ethics.

Some colleges offer certification courses; once certified, bookkeepers must meet continuing education requirements every three years.

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What They Do

If organizing, updating and checking financial statements, records and transactions sounds like an interesting job, then a bookkeeper career is in the future. Bookkeepers, and accounting and auditing clerk need a great deal of organizational, financial, accounting and clerical skills to do their job accurately and effectively.

A typical day in the life of an accounting clerk includes using special accounting software and spreadsheets to enter, record and update financial records; entering and recording checks and cash; checking documents and posts for accuracy and assigning debits and credits to the correct accounts. An accounting clerk career includes generating reports such as income statements and fixing any problems or differences they find in records. In addition, bookkeepers also operate 10-key calculators and copy machines to produce documents and comply with federal and state regulations as well as company procedures and policies.

Career Advancement Opportunities

People can advancement in an accounting clerk career through more experience and education, such as a Bachelor’s in Accounting. With this extended knowledge, they may become accountants or auditors.

Essential Career Information

2017 Median Pay $39,240
2016 number of jobs 1,730,500
Employment growth forecast, 2016 - 26 -1%
Entry-level education requirements Some college, no degree
2017, wage of lowest 10 percent $24,600
2017, wage of the highest 10 percent $60,670

 

  Cargo and Freight Agents

Education and Certifications Cargo and Freight Agents Need

Typically, people interested in a freight career need a high school diploma or a GED and on-the-job training. As training progresses, cargo agents take on more complex jobs such as notifying customers of shipment times and deliveries as well as monitoring shipments en route.

Cargo and freight agents use specific shipment software programs and computer databases which require a short time of computer training.

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What They Do

If moving people and products by land, air, rail and sea sounds like an interesting job, then a cargo agent career may be in the future. Cargo and freight agents coordinate and expedite incoming and outgoing shipments for airline, train, trucking and shipping transportation businesses.

More specifically, a typical day for a cargo and freight agent includes deciding particular shipping routes and methods from pick-up locations to drop-off destinations, advising clients on shipment and payment methods and organizing transportation and logistics details with freight companies.

A cargo agent career and a freight agent career include recording all products shipped, accepted and stored, negotiating and arranging shipment charges and postal rates and notifying customers of cargo arrival and delivery arrangements. A cargo agent career and a freight agent career also include organizing bills of lading and other shipping paperwork, documenting cargo weight, size, and shipment times and tracking the progress of shipments.

Essential Career Information

2017 Median Pay $41,820
2016 number of jobs 89,920
Employment growth forecast, 2016 - 26 N/A
Entry-level education requirements N/A
2017, wage of lowest 10 percent $25,670
2017, wage of the highest 10 percent $65,600

 

  Couriers and Messengers

Education and Certifications Couriers and Messengers Need

Typically, couriers and messengers have a high school diploma or GED and receive informal on-the-job training. Most couriers and messengers need a valid state driver’s license and a good driving record. Most employers prefer hiring high school graduates.

In terms of training for a messenger career, employees work with an experienced courier or messenger for up to 2 weeks and learn tasks such as loading and unloading packages and collecting payments. Once trainees understand the system, they begin working on their own.

Many couriers specialize in delivering items such as medical specimens or donated organs.

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What They Do

Ever wonder how a bike courier or messenger shuttle their way through thrones of traffic or how transplant hearts get to their final destination? Couriers and messengers pick up and deliver these documents and time-sensitive medical materials for people, companies and government institutions with speed, accuracy and excellent attention to detail.

In the fast paced world of couriers and messengers, a typical day includes picking up and delivering packages and documents by bike, foot, truck, automobile or motorcycle, unloading and sorting packages, using tools such as scanners and small laptops to record information, checking and confirming delivery information such as addresses and names as well as recording the time items were delivered. A courier career and a messenger career include dealing with payments and collecting signatures.

Couriers and messengers provide different delivery options such as same-day or 1-hour services for many clients, including medical offices and laboratories, hospitals, government agencies, banks, law firms and consulting companies.

Most couriers make local deliveries, often in metropolitan areas with dense traffic and items may include legal paperwork, financial or bank documents, passports and medical specimens or samples.

During a courier career tools such as cell phones and two-way radios are vital in getting directions and instructions, though many trucks have GPS systems to help navigate daily traffic.

Essential Career Information

2017 Median Pay $28,250
2016 number of jobs 76,710
Employment growth forecast, 2016 - 26 N/A
Entry-level education requirements N/A
2017, wage of lowest 10 percent $20,070
2017, wage of the highest 10 percent $43,440

 

  Customer Service Representatives

Education and Certifications Customer Service Representatives Need

People typically need at least a high school diploma to begin a customer service representative career. They typically receive on-the-job training. A customer service representative needs good communication skills and basic computer and phone skills. However, in recent years some employers increasingly emphasize postsecondary education such as an associate degree.

Training for customer service representatives can last anywhere between two weeks to several months. Training includes a focus on company products, most frequently asked questions, and using the telephone and computer equipment customer service reps use. Training also consists of classroom learning and following the procedures and protocols of other experienced customer service representatives. Some customer service representatives obtain continuing education.

Customer service representatives who handle insurance or financial services often need a state license and requirements vary by state.

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What They Do

Customer service representatives are all around us, everyday and everywhere, from credit card companies and banks to movie theaters and department stores and all places in between. Customer service representatives provide information to customers on behalf of a company or organization. A customer service representative career includes providing information about the company’s services and products as well as handling and resolving customer complaints.

A typical day for a customer service rep includes conferring with customers via phone, in-person or online and responding to their needs and problems. A customer service representative career includes taking orders and overseeing charges, dealing with billing or payment issues, making changes to customer accounts, handling complaints and returns and recording actions.

Customer service careers include confirming details of personal information, finding answers and solutions to customer issues, assessing validity of customer complaints and offering customers the opportunity to discuss issues with supervisors or others who can help.

Essential Career Information

2017 Median Pay $32,890
2016 number of jobs 2,784,500
Employment growth forecast, 2016 - 26 5%
Entry-level education requirements High school diploma or equivalent
2017, wage of lowest 10 percent $21,362
2017, wage of the highest 10 percent $54,330

 

  Desktop Publishers

Education and Certifications Desktop Publishers Need

Typically, desktop publishers have some form of postsecondary education such as an Associate in Graphic Arts, a Bachelor in Graphic Arts, an Associate in Design or a Bachelor in Design degree as well as skills in desktop publishing software and computers. Extensive experience can substitute for a postsecondary degree or a certificate.

Vital on-the-job training provides the necessary skills to begin working in a desktop publisher career. Ongoing education helps desktop publishers keep up with the latest in computer technology, graphics and software programs.

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What They Do

If designing page layouts for magazines, books, brochures and other printed materials and online publications sounds interesting, then consider a desktop publishing career. Desktop publishers use computer software to design page layouts and other design elements into a finished product.

A desktop publishing career includes collecting materials to create new text or artwork, working with designers and writers to create new design elements and researching additional designs. A desktop publishing career also includes importing electronic files and editing graphics such as photographs, scanning design materials into digital images, and operating desktop publishing software programs.

A desktop publisher arranges design elements on the page layout, uses special formatting tools such as spacing and text size, reviews and edits initial proofs and fixes any issues. Desktop publisher careers involve converting files, and sending the final product to a printing company or using an in-house high-resolution printer to produce a master copy or copies.

Essential Career Information

2017 Median Pay $42,350
2016 number of jobs 14,600
Employment growth forecast, 2016 - 26 -14%
Entry-level education requirements Associate degree
2017, wage of lowest 10 percent $23,300
2017, wage of the highest 10 percent $71,280

 

  Financial Clerks

Education and Certifications Financial Clerks Need

People interested in a financial clerk career typically need a high school diploma. They usually receive on-the-job training. Some fields, such as brokerage firms, may require financial clerks to have a college degree in business or accounting.

During training a financial clerk works under experienced clerks or supervisors; the length of training usually lasts a month or less. In some areas, financial clerks may need specific technical training, for example, in the gaming industry clerks need education in regulations, procedures and policies.

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What They Do

If tracking money, organizing finances coming in and going out of a corporation and working with numbers seems interesting, then a financial clerk career may be in the future. Financial clerks perform financial and administrative tasks for brokerage firms, credit card companies, insurance offices and many other industries. Financial clerk careers include organizing and maintaining records, assisting customers, and carrying out financial transactions.

An insurance clerk career involves maintaining and updating financial records, tracking and computing charges and billing, dealing with all financial transactions, and answering customer questions.

Depending on their specific title, financial clerks can perform a wide variety of financial and administrative tasks for many different industries. For example, billing and posting clerks work in areas such as healthcare and deal with billing invoices, healthcare insurance policy issues, hospital records and other charges.

An insurance claims clerk career involves dealing with different insurance claims issues such as policy cancellations and changes, customer questions and processing applications. Some other areas financial clerks may work in include payroll and loan departments, gaming industries and credit card companies.

Essential Career Information

2017 Median Pay $38,680
2016 number of jobs 1,440,400
Employment growth forecast, 2016 - 26 9%
Entry-level education requirements High school diploma or equivalent
2017, wage of lowest 10 percent $26,220
2017, wage of the highest 10 percent $59,070

 

  General Office Clerks

Education and Certifications General Office Clerks Need

Typically, people interested in an office clerk career need a high school diploma or equivalent. Office clerks receive on-the-job training. Many vocational and community college programs offer special business education classes for students interested in becoming a general office clerk. These courses teach skills such as word processing, office management and special computer applications.

Some schools offer an Associate in Office Management, Associate in Business Administration, an Associate in Office Information Technology degree or an office assistant certificate program.

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What They Do

General office clerks possess incredible organizational, interpersonal, computer and multitasking skills. Office clerks often wear many hats on a daily basis and perform a variety of administrative tasks, including answering telephones, typing and filing.

Office clerk careers include organizing and maintaining multiple files, inventory, mail, office equipment and computer systems; answering busy telephones, answering questions and giving information. Office clerk careers involve performing a variety of document preparation, organizing mail, managing calendars, appointments and schedules; ordering office supplies, services and materials and keeping company financial records.

Career Advancement Opportunities

There are some career advancement opportunities for general office clerks after they gain administrative experience and skills, such as receiving higher pay or obtaining advanced responsibilities or a higher level job. Strong administrative, communication and analytical skills help office clerks receive a promotion to a supervisory position. However, if a general office clerk seeks to enter a professional position within a company, typically they must gain a formal education, such as a Bachelor in Business Administration or Bachelor in Business Management.

Essential Career Information

2017 Median Pay $31,500
2016 number of jobs 3,117,700
Employment growth forecast, 2016 - 26 -1%
Entry-level education requirements High school diploma or equivalent
2017, wage of lowest 10 percent $19,864
2017, wage of the highest 10 percent $51,584

 

  Information Clerks

Education and Certifications Information Clerks Need

Typically, people interested in a. information clerk career need a high school diploma. Information clerks typically receive on-the-job training. However, some employers prefer workers who have some postsecondary education. Training includes reviewing and understanding company policies and procedures. Typically, information clerks complete their training in a small amount of time, however, in certain government jobs, information clerk training takes longer to complete.

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What They Do

Information clerks work in almost every industry known in the U.S. They work in areas ranging from banking, medicine and law to museums, theatres and government.

An information clerk career focuses on providing clerical and administrative support, organizing and collect records, data and information and responding to customer inquiries. An information clerk career also includes keeping information and records, assisting customers and workers with daily administrative duties, organizing and locating specific information for colleagues and customers and making sure they follow proper protocol.

Information clerks work in many industries and carry different titles. For example, correspondence clerks respond and review questions from companies, departments and the general public. Correspondence clerk careers also include responding to emails or written requests for damage inquiries, merchandise, credit information, past due accounts, mistakes in billings and service issues.

The court system needs information clerk skills, court clerk careers include organizing and maintaining court records and files, preparing dockets and case files and informing attorneys and witnesses of court appearances. Other titles include eligibility clerks and file clerks. Eligibility clerks conduct interviews to determine if government assistance applicants qualify for certain programs and resources. File clerks organize and maintain company records, conduct data entry, and retrieve files.

Essential Career Information

2017 Median Pay $33,680
2016 number of jobs 1,516,800
Employment growth forecast, 2016 - 26 3%
Entry-level education requirements High school diploma or equivalent
2017, wage of lowest 10 percent $20,720
2017, wage of the highest 10 percent $55,480

 

  Medical Records and Health Information Technicians

Education and Certifications Medical Records and Health Information Technicians Need

A medical records technician career or a health information technician career generally requires an Associate of Health Information Technology degree or a Health Information Technology certificate. Some schools offer an Associate in Health Information Management degree.

Employers generally prefer medical records technicians and health information technicians with professional certificates. Some organizations require candidates pass an exam, whereas other organizations require candidates graduate from an accredited program. Certification includes Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) and Certified Tumor Registrar (CTR). Medical records technicians and health information technicians must renew certification regularly and take continuing education courses.

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What They Do

Without the work of medical records technicians and health information technicians, medical records would not be as accurate, well organized, and correctly filed electronically; in other words, these individuals are a vital cog in the medical field machine.

Medical records technicians and health information technicians code and organize patient information in a variety of ways, creating properly electronically coded paperwork for insurance reimbursement purposes and for the databases and registries that hold people’s medical histories.

Although the specific duties assigned to a medical records technician or health information technician depend on the side of the office they work in, they generally check medical records, ensuring accuracy and completeness, then organize the data for clinical databases and registries. Medical records techs and health information techs responsibilities include protecting patient’s health information for confidentiality, authorized access for treatment, and data security.

Medical records technicians and health information technicians do not work with patients directly, but they do regularly interact with physicians and other healthcare professionals, while trying to get any necessary information to complete medical records or assure accuracy.

Medical records techs and health information techs may specialize in a variety of areas, but most work as either coders or cancer registrars.

Career Advancement Opportunities

A Bachelor in Healthcare Informatics prepares students for such jobs as health information administrator, informatics analyst, systems data analyst, informatics nurse specialist and more.

Essential Career Information

2017 Median Pay $39,180
2016 number of jobs 206,300
Employment growth forecast, 2016 - 26 13%
Entry-level education requirements Postsecondary nondegree award
2017, wage of lowest 10 percent $25,810
2017, wage of the highest 10 percent $64,610

 

Education and Certifications Paralegals and Legal Assistants Need

Many paralegals and legal assistants have an associate degree in paralegal studies; some have a bachelor’s in another field and certification in paralegal studies, however it’s not out of the question for lawyers to hire a recent college graduate with no legal experience and provide on-the-job training. Legal assistant certification or paralegal certification can help during job hunting, though most firms do not require it.

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What They Do

Behind most good lawyers, you’ll find a good legal assistant or paralegal. While many small-town lawyers work on their own, many larger firms require the services of paralegals and legal assistants to get the job done. A paralegal and legal assistant have the skills and training to handle routine legal work, freeing lawyers up to try cases or handle more complex matters.

A paralegal career and a legal assistant career involve maintaining and organizing files, conducting legal research and drafting documents. The full scope of paralegals and legal assistants’ assignments often depends on the size of the firm and the trust among the individuals involved.

A paralegal career or a legal assistant career can be challenging and rewarding.

Career Advancement Opportunities

Those who choose a paralegal career or a legal assistant career can advance within a firm as they become more experienced. This often includes supervising and delegating assignments to other paralegals and legal assistants. A Bachelor in Legal Studies can help open advancement opportunities.

Essential Career Information

2017 Median Pay $50,410
2016 number of jobs 285,600
Employment growth forecast, 2016 - 26 15%
Entry-level education requirements Associate degree
2017, wage of lowest 10 percent $31,130
2017, wage of the highest 10 percent $81,180

 

  Secretaries and Administrative Assistants

Education and Certifications Secretaries and Administrative Assistants Need

Those who choose a secretary career or an administrative assistant career can often find work right out of high school. They can also enroll in associate degree programs to make themselves more attractive to prospective employers.

Certification is not required but certification can signal competency when employers review applications for secretaries and administrative assistant jobs. After completing specialized training programs, a secretary can acquire certification in a specific field, such as legal secretarial or medical secretarial.

Some schools offer an Associate in Office Information Technology, an Associate in Business Administration or an Associate in Office Management degree program.

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What They Do

Secretaries and administrative assistants don’t get the big bucks, but many bosses acknowledge these employees keep things running smoothly. A good secretary or administrative assistant performs routine clerical and organizational tasks, knows how to use the latest office technology, and respects clients, customers and employers’ confidentiality.

A secretary career includes organizing files, drafting messages, helping other staff and scheduling appointments. Secretaries greet visitors warmly and politely, often making that all-important first impression.

Administrative assistants’ skills and duties vary depending on the type of organization they work for and how large a staff shares the work. Some secretaries work for just one person, while some administrative assistants serve entire departments.

Career Advancement Opportunities

Experience leads to career advancement for many who choose a secretary career or an administrative assistant career. Some may become executive secretaries, clerical supervisors or office managers. Extra training can also lead to specialty work, such as a position as a paralegal.

Essential Career Information

2017 Median Pay $37,870
2016 number of jobs 3,990,400
Employment growth forecast, 2016 - 26 -5%
Entry-level education requirements High school diploma or equivalent
2017, wage of lowest 10 percent $23,650
2017, wage of the highest 10 percent $62,870

* Salary, number of jobs and employment growth provided by
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