Administrative Assistant and Secretarial Science, General  Program Description


Insider Info

dotOffice administration students are immersed in computer classes and leave the program with a working knowledge of key software.

"I can't stress enough the importance of computer skills," says Chad Hyatt, curriculum director at Yorl Technical College in South Carolina. "Not just knowing how to type a letter, but knowing how to integrate all programs together for productivity."

A secretarial program will give you some knowledge of accounting, and should make you comfortable with office procedures, says Cherie Kennedy. She is a business instructor at Central Tech in Oklahoma. She says her one-year program prepares students to enter the workplace immediately.

"If they do well in their studies, the students will acquire skills in advanced keyboarding, filing, telephone, business writing and English, basic accounting, document preparation, office procedures, and computer skills in Windows, Word, Excel, Access, PowerPoint and the Internet," she says.

Most office administration programs are a year long, although you can find some that will teach you the basics in about six months. Check the college listings for more details.

And while there are many private institutions, it's wise to thoroughly check into them before you commit yourself. In the U.S., career colleges are accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology, whose members must meet certain quality standards to be accredited. Your state may also have an accrediting body.

Many schools offer a co-op option, in which you alternate study terms and work terms. This is a good way to gain practical experience and make good contacts that may help you get a job after graduation.

In many programs, proper office dress is compulsory. Kennedy's program begins with her instructing students on professional and casual business dress. But there are problems, she says.

"Students are required to dress professionally on Tuesdays and dress business casual on Thursdays. Often, I have had to teach lessons on hygiene, appropriate hairstyles and fashion trends," she says.

Focusing on computer application courses in high school, being involved in business organizations such as Junior Achievement, having an interest in writing, and participating in other extracurricular activities are all good preparation.

The main costs are tuition and books. Although not required, having a computer at home -- and using it frequently -- helps you meet assignment deadlines and improves computer and typing skills.


Occupational Outlook Handbook
For more information related to this field of study, see: Secretaries and Administrative Assistants

International Association of Administrative Professionals
An association to help administrative professionals enhance their skills and become more effective contributors to their employers

Questions and answers, and a chat forum about executive assistants

Desk Demon
Comprehensive and clever website for office professionals

Just the Facts

Want a quick overview of what this program is about? Check out Just the Facts for a simple description.