2024 Best Online Administrative Assistant Certificate Programs

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An online administrative assistant certificate can help you gain practical skills for a new career.

Online Administrative Assistant Certificate Programs

Choose any kind of business or organization, and you can be sure that there’s someone on the team handling administrative tasks. In fact, administrative assistants can be found in nearly every industry, from large corporations and travel agencies to nonprofits and hospitals.

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If you’re meticulous and detail-oriented with a love for structure, you might consider becoming an administrative assistant.

Online Administrative Assistant Certificate Programs

Administrative Assistant Certificate Programs

Administrative assistants are critical to the day-to-day functioning of a workplace. They carry out key office procedures, and they provide support through tasks such as basic accounting, preparing professional documents, and responding to customer calls.

It’s often a versatile role that involves working with different people, including executives, team leaders, junior employees, and clients. For those who want formal administrative assistant training, there are various certifications for administrative professionals available. Most students who enroll in these do so to gain a competitive edge.

As technology becomes more advanced, many routine administrative tasks are becoming more automated. Because of this, administrative assistants have to take on more complex responsibilities that involve using different kinds of technology. For example, they might have to work with software for sorting emails, automatically transcribing meetings, and syncing employee calendars.

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Online administrative assistant certificate programs can provide a foundation in these skills. A certificate program usually takes 6 months up to a year to complete. In that time, you can learn how to:

  • Handle and respond to emails and other forms of business communication
  • Organize both physical and digital files and create spreadsheets
  • Do basic inventory management and talk to vendors and customers
  • Use popular technology tools for core office functions

The skills taught in an administrative assistant certificate program are actually applicable to most office and virtual jobs. Some certificate programs even include a practicum along with professional development training to make job searching easier.

Administrative Assistant Careers and Salaries

Administrative Assistant Careers and Salaries

​​Administrative assistants can work in a variety of settings, including clinics, law offices, government agencies, educational institutions, nonprofits, and even small artisanal businesses.

Administrative assistant skills are necessary in practically any organization, from arranging documents to scheduling meetings and appointments. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the overall median salary for office and administrative support careers is $38,050.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Executive Secretaries and Executive Administrative Assistants $62,060
Legal Secretaries and Administrative Assistants $47,710
Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerks $45,560
Financial Clerks
Travel Agents $43,810
Secretaries and Administrative Assistants, Except Legal, Medical, and Executive $37,880
Material Recording Clerks $37,870
Medical Secretaries and Administrative Assistants $37,450
Information Clerks $37,450
General Office Clerks $37,030

Executive administrative assistants tend to be the most highly paid, but this position often requires at least a few years of work experience. As more companies shift to remote work, more administrative assistants are becoming virtual assistants who work from home. With an online setup, it could be possible for administrative assistants to work part-time with multiple clients.

Admin Assistant Certificate Courses

Admin Assistant Certificate Courses

Here are examples of common courses found in an admin assistant certificate program:

  • Business Writing: Communication in a business setting uses more formal language, so you’ll practice writing clear and organized reports, emails, and memos with the appropriate tone and structure.
  • Professional Development: This course delves into how to advance your career as an administrative assistant, with topics such as resume writing and time management.
  • Communication: Working with others is a key part of being an administrative assistant, so you’ll learn about how to express yourself well and how to collaborate with people from around the world.
  • Making Presentations: As an administrative assistant, you might have to create business presentations that convey points accurately while having appealing graphics.
  • Introduction to Spreadsheets: In this course, you’ll get comfortable with using spreadsheets for business functions, such as budgeting and tracking sales, and you’ll practice using basic formulas and functions.
  • Word Processing: You’ll use the most popular word processing tools to create and format business documents, with features such as file sharing and margin adjustment.
  • Administrative Office Procedures: You’ll get an overview of how to handle essential administrative tasks, such as scheduling meetings, organizing calendars, and dealing with emails.
  • Records Management: Since you’ll likely be handling a lot of information, you’ll get experience with working with databases and setting up file management systems.
  • Accounting Fundamentals: This course tackles how cash flow works in a business, with practical lessons on understanding financial statements and making basic calculations.
  • Basic Design: This course explores core design principles, such as color, layout, and typography, so you can apply these to assets such as websites and social media posts.

Some admin assistant certificate programs also have a practicum component where you can work directly with companies.

How to Become an Administrative Assistant

How to Become an Administrative Assistant

There are many paths to becoming an administrative assistant. If you’re interested in pursuing it as a career, here are some general steps you can take toward your goal:

  • Get a high school diploma. There are employers that will look for an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, but most only require a high school diploma or a General Education Development (GED) certificate.
  • Pursue a certificate, diploma, or associate degree. Formal training can help prepare you for the job and make you more marketable. A certificate usually takes less than a year to earn, while an associate’s will often take at least 2 years.
  • Brush up on skills necessary for the job. Some industries require specific knowledge. For example, legal or medical administrative assistants need to know more about the specialized fields in which they work. Regardless of where you’ll work, it pays to look up the most common technology tools and get some practice with them.
  • Apply for work. Most companies have administrative positions, but there might be a lot of applicants as well. You can give your application a boost by emphasizing related skills and experiences on your CV.
  • Learn continuously. Even if you’re working as an administrative assistant, it’s strategic to keep learning on the go because the technology you’ll be using can change quickly.
  • Get additional certifications. To advance your career, you might look into becoming a Certified Administrative Professional (CAP) or joining an Executive Assistant Certification Program. Holding certifications can help you stand out and pave the way for more senior positions.

A critical aspect of starting an assistant administrator career is showing that you’re capable of doing the job. Aside from your technical skills, it’s also beneficial to show that you’re organized and adaptable.

Admissions Requirements

Administrative Assistant Certificate Programs admissions

Administrative assistant certification programs have fewer requirements than traditional administrative assistant degrees. While the admission process is usually faster and more flexible, you’ll still likely have to submit the following:

  • Online application form. Most schools allow you to fill out an application form on their website.
  • High school transcripts. Completing high school is usually the minimum educational requirement for administrative assistant certifications.
  • Placement test. Some schools will ask you to take a placement test, and you’ll often need to get a minimum score to get accepted.

You may also have to pay an application fee at the start of the process.

Online Administrative Assistant Certification Programs Accreditation

Administrative Assistant Certification Programs Accreditation

Even for administrative certificate programs online, school accreditation matters. An accredited school meets rigorous educational standards that ensure that its courses are effective for students.

In addition, federal financial aid is often only available for programs at accredited schools. If you need to move to another school or degree program, it’s often easier to transfer credits that were earned at an accredited institution. Employers are also more likely to see your certification as valid if it comes from an accredited school.

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You can visit the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) website to learn which schools are accredited.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Administrative Assistant Certification Programs financial aid

Financial aid for certificate programs is rarer than for full-on college degrees, but it can still be possible to receive financial aid.

You may want to start your financial aid research by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This online form can help determine your eligibility for government-funded loans and grants. For certificate programs, you might be able to qualify for a Federal Pell Grant, which is awarded to students based on financial need.

It’s also helpful to check the financial aid section of the website of the school you’re applying to. This might include information on specific scholarships and even grants issued by your state.

What Is an Administrative Assistant?

Administrative Assistant tasks

An administrative assistant is a crucial member of the workplace, handling organizational and administrative tasks that keep a company running smoothly.

They may set up meetings and take notes, respond to external calls and emails, and maintain company records. Because they coordinate a lot with managers and coworkers, the day-to-day requirements vary widely depending on the company.

Administrative assistants often work heavily with computers because they need to use software for creating documents, presentations, and spreadsheets. This role is often suitable for someone who’s detail-oriented and organized, with the capacity to multitask.

What Does an Administrative Assistant Do?

Administrative Assistant duties

While job duties can vary widely depending on the employer and industry, an admin assistant typically has the following responsibilities:

  • Prepare documents and generate regular reports and memos
  • Assist with research and put together presentation slides
  • Set up meetings based on the availability of everyone involved
  • Answer phone calls and reply to emails from customers
  • Maintain databases and spreadsheets that track company data
  • Manage inventory by ordering supplies and receiving deliveries
  • Perform basic bookkeeping, send invoices, and confirm payments
  • Coordinate travel arrangements

Administrative assistants typically accomplish many of these types of tasks in a single workday.

What Skills Do You Need to Be an Administrative Assistant?

Administrative Assistant skills

An administrative assistant generally needs to have the following skills:

  • Good oral and written communication. Administrative assistants are constantly in contact with people, from drafting messages to relaying updates.
  • Proficiency with technology. This role involves using a lot of technological tools, and administrative assistants are able to utilize and adapt to new resources quickly.
  • Organizational skills. Administrative assistants juggle various tasks that are associated with different team members.
  • Research and data processing. Administrative assistants may have to do basic research and present their findings to coworkers.

Some workplaces offer additional on-the-job training.

What Can I Do with an Administrative Assistant Certificate?

An administrative assistant certificate has many benefits. Since it teaches several essential skills, certificate holders might have a better chance of securing entry-level jobs compared to if they only had a high school diploma. Some certificate holders work as legal secretaries, bookkeeping clerks, travel agents, and general office clerks.

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Working as an administrative assistant could also lead to more senior roles down the road. Administrative assistants with several years of experience may transition to being office managers, clerical trainers, administrative supervisors, and executive secretaries.

How Long Does It Take to Get an Administrative Assistant Certificate Online?

Online administrative assistant certificate programs typically take 6 months to 1 year to complete, depending on the university.

The timeframe for a certificate program is much shorter than the timeframe for associate degrees, which can take up to 2 years. The workload for a certificate is usually equivalent to that of one or two semesters. Plus, administrative assistant online programs are also usually self-paced, with options for a part-time schedule.

How Much Does an Administrative Assistant Make?

Administrative Assistant salary

Based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for those working in office and administrative support positions is $38,050.

Still, different types of administrative assistants can have varying median salaries. For example, executive secretaries and executive administrative assistants have a median salary of $62,060, followed by legal secretaries and administrative assistants with a median of $47,710. Wages can also vary based on the industry.

Secretaries and administrative assistants employed in professional, scientific, and technical services make a median salary of $47,150. On the other hand, those in healthcare and social assistance have a median wage of $42,078 (Bureau of Labor Statistics).

What’s the Difference Between an Executive Assistant vs. Administrative Assistant?

Here are some differences between the roles of executive assistants and administrative assistants.

Administrative Assistant Executive Assistant
  • Focuses on day-to-day tasks
  • Needs strong organizational skills
  • May work with various employees
  • Has a high school diploma at minimum
  • Does not typically need previous experience
  • Focuses on project management
  • Needs strategic decision-making skills on top of organizational skills
  • Usually works with executives
  • May need to have some college credits or even a bachelors degree
  • May need at least a few years of experience

Some administrative assistants are eventually promoted to the position of executive assistant once they’ve obtained enough work experience.

What’s the Difference Between an Administrative Assistant vs. Secretary?

Administrative Assistant vs. Secretary

Although administrative assistants and secretaries can handle similar tasks, they aren’t exactly the same. Let’s break down some of the differences:

  • Secretaries: They handle basic clerical tasks, such as typing up documents and answering the phone. Secretary roles often don’t require previous experience.
  • Administrative assistants: They may do secretarial tasks, but they also have more complex responsibilities, like preparing spreadsheets and doing research. Some positions require at least 1 year of work experience or a related diploma.

Secretaries are generally considered a more junior role than administrative assistants.

What’s the Difference Between an Administrative Assistant Diploma vs. Certificate Program?

Here are some differences to note about administrative assistant diploma and certificate programs.

Diploma Program Certificate Program
  • Usually takes around a year to complete
  • Often consists of more than 30 credits
  • Offers more in-depth study of a field
  • Typically completed in 6 months to a year
  • Can consist of 9 to 30 credits
  • Often focused on practical skills

A diploma program often requires more commitment, while certificate programs can help you develop administrative assistant skills in less than a year.

Is Getting an Administrative Assistant Certification Worth It?

Administrative Assistant Certification

Yes, getting an administrative assistant certification is worth it for many professionals. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that there will be around 324,300 job openings for secretaries and administrative assistants every year over the next ten years. Because of the growing demand for healthcare, medical secretaries and administrative assistants are projected to see 11% job growth over the next decade (Bureau of Labor Statistics).

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Some administrative assistants are also transitioning to remote or online work, with most companies requiring some form of administrative support. The skills you can gain from an administrative assistant education can also be useful in most office jobs.

Universities Offering Online Administrative Assistant Certification Programs

Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.

Bryant and Stratton College

Bryant and Stratton College

At Bryant and Stratton College, students can earn an office administrative assistant diploma online or on campus at multiple locations. The program covers office technology and business principles. Coursework from the program can also be applied toward Bryant and Stratton’s associate degree in office information technology.

Bryant and Stratton College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Harper College

Harper College

Harper College offers an administrative assistant certificate. The program covers how to use word processing, spreadsheet, and other office software. It requires the completion of 17 credit hours. Courses are available in online and blended formats. Potential job outcomes include administrative assistant, office manager, or customer service representative.

Harper College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Kennesaw State University

Kennesaw State University

Kennesaw State University offers an administrative assistant certificate online program. The coursework is designed to prepare students for the Certified Administrative Professional exam offered by the International Association of Administrative Professionals.

All coursework must be completed within 3 years. Only three classes are required: Administrative Assistant Fundamentals, Administrative Assistant Applications, and Interpersonal Communications.

Kennesaw State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Lehman College

Lehman College

Lehman College offers an online administrative and executive assistant certificate. The program is designed to help students develop excellent computer skills and learn how to write and speak well. Courses include Effective Business Communication: Writing and Oral Skills for Professionals, Microsoft Word: Part I, Microsoft Excel: Part I, and Outlook for Office Workers.

Lehman College is accredited by the Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.

Lone Star College

Lone Star College

Lone Star College offers an administrative assistant certificate. It can be earned through a fully online, non-credit fast track program. The program is instructor-led and includes industry training and hands-on labs. There is no need for admissions testing. Courses include Business English, Administrative Office Procedures, Business Principles (Intro), and courses on specific MS applications.

Lone Star College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Minnesota State Community and Technical College

Minnesota State Community and Technical College

Minnesota State Community and Technical College offers a variety of certificate options. These include Administrative Office Assistant – Finance, Administrative Office Assistant – Human Resources, and Administrative Office Assistant – Legal.

Each program requires the completion of 18 credits and is available online. All three programs are designed to teach students how to provide support services in offices and similar settings.

Minnesota State Community and Technical College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Ozarks Technical Community College

Ozarks Technical Community College

Ozarks Technical Community College offers an administrative assistant certificate program. It requires the completion of 33 credit hours. Courses include Microcomputer Keyboarding, Business English, Principles of Business, Document Processing, Business Communications, and Customer Service. Students are also required to take a mathematics elective.

OTC is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Umpqa Community College

Umpqua Community College

Umpqua Community College offers a 1 year office assistant certificate that can be completed online. The curriculum covers basic office skills and business knowledge. Courses are designed to be convenient and flexible and prepare students for entry-level office positions, such as clerks and receptionists. There are start dates in the fall, winter, spring, and summer.

Umpqua Community College is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

University of North Georgia

University of North Georgia

The University of North Georgia offers an online administrative assistant certificate program. It includes 5 courses: Administrative Assistant Fundamentals, Administrative Assistant Applications, Interpersonal Communication, Writing Essentials, and Building Teams That Work.

The program is designed to help students gain the knowledge and skills needed to perform office work in fields such as public relations, legal services, or healthcare.

UNG is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Valdosta State University

Valdosta State University campus

Valdosta State University offers a Professional Certificate for Administrative Assistants. Students are required to complete three modules: Communication, Leadership and Personal Development, and Workplace Technology.

It typically takes two years to complete and includes both face-to-face and online components. Courses include Assertiveness Communication, Mastering the Multigenerational Workforce, and Microsoft Word for Intermediate Users.

Valdosta State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Getting Your Administrative Assistant Certification Online

Administrative Assistant Certification Online

Getting an administrative assistant certification might be one way to get closer to your career goals. A certification can teach you some of the key skills needed on the job, and it may strengthen your CV.

You also have the option to take your administrative assistant certification online. Online programs often give you more control over your schedule, often allowing for more flexibility and convenience.

If you’re looking to start an administrative assistant career, there are many credible, accredited certification programs available. The sooner you start exploring your options, the sooner you may find the administrative assistant certificate program that’s right for you.

Ready to start your journey?
Ima Ocon
Ima holds a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from Ateneo de Manila University, with a minor in Philosophy. She also participated in the Global Summer Program at Singapore Management University. Currently, she is pursuing a graduate certificate in counseling.