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‘Efficiency’ is the key word for admin professionals

Administrative professionals are efficient. And don’t call them secretaries.

Erik Reis/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Don't call administrative professionals 'secretaries' – they do far more than you might imagine and they play a big role in the success of the teams or executives they support. Last week's article in our salaries series outlined all aspects of the profession, and you can read the rest of the stories here. What follows is a selection of some of the best comments about administrative professionals and their chosen career.

The upside

Laura, an executive assistant for a regional vice-president at a large national company, said her job involves far more than answering the phone, typing and filing. "I manage my VP's insanely busy schedule, co-ordinate travel, read/reply and relay information that is received in her inbox. Most importantly I make the executive decision on prioritizing what is and is not worth her time. I know for a fact that she would not be as productive and efficient as she is without my assistance."

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"What I love about my job is that I can work anywhere and in any industry, I've worked in government, television stations, production houses and now a non-profit. It's never 'same ol' same ol' and while it can sometimes be thankless I do love the variety of what I do and I'm always learning in each new job that I take."

Clonedtwice1 has been working as an executive administrative assistant for seven years. "Originally I gave myself a two-year expiry date, but I have stayed at the same job because I work with great bosses who value my work and have allowed me to take on various responsibilities throughout the years. The best piece of advice I got from my boss is 'the buck stops with you, not me.' As an admin if you take pride in your work, management will notice. It can be a thankless job but I see too many bitter admins in the field. It's so bad that staff won't bother asking admins for help because they are afraid to get their head bitten off."

The downside

"I have a lot of respect for administrative professionals," Bcrier wrote, "but I do have to ask, 'why would you want to be an administrative professional?' It is a thankless job and the most people go from there is into facilities management or executive assistants."

Bcrier recommended that if you want to be an administrative professional "learn data analysis skills as well. Become an expert in Excel, some Access forms, some basic SQL and learn at least one data visualization tool inside out (such as Tableau). In the future, if you are interested, learn project management or at least project co-ordination."

"If you are able to decipher intelligence from the data that you will have access to, your value to an organization will increase substantially."

TigerTabby, on the other hand, wrote: "I would have to strongly recommend against going into this profession. I am one currently, and I disagree with the post. My actual job title is still "secretary," an embarrassingly outdated term. It is not a "good foot in the door" whether in the public or private sector, as I had thought. There is very little respect for the work we do, and it is heavily mired in the gender politics of women making up the vast majority of admin positions. I work hard in my job, but that sums it up – it is only a job, not a good career."

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George O said this is a job that's been disappearing over the past several decades. "Jobs still exist in the field, and those that are left are probably better than they once were, but they are likely hard to get (because of scarcity) and have minimum job path opportunities. Most of the people that I know in this area had a long period of working as a 'temp' before they ever got a chance of applying for a permanent job. It isn't a job that I would ever recommend anyone aspire to if they have any realistic options at all."

The salary

Left of Right, who works at an oil-and-gas company in the United States, wrote that a junior administrator can start at $35,000 (U.S.), while a more senior administrator can start at $60,000 and an executive assistant can start at $90,000 – not including stock options and other incentives.

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