5 Steps to Becoming an Administration Assistant

27 April 2016

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As far as stepping stones into a long and rewarding career go, starting out as an Administration Assistant is one of the best moves you can make.

Regardless of the size of a business, whether a small enterprise or a global multi-billion dollar business, Administration staff are absolutely essential to keeping the organisation afloat.

Whether you wish to work internationally, start your own business or run an office, working in Administration will give you the building blocks you need to make it happen.

So what can you do to start your career as an Administration Assistant?

1. Get interested – what is an Administration Assistant?

Administration Assistants are the face of a business, answering queries, creating and maintaining databases, submitting paperwork and even undertaking financial activities. Whether you’re working on reception, within an operations department, as a payroll clerk or a personal assistant, there is a wide variety of positions available that will suit most personality types.

During the day-to-day, an Administration Assistant may sort and distribute mail and other correspondence throughout the organisation, answer enquiries over the phone or in person for customers and other staff within the organisation, operate a range of office machines including computers, printers and faxes, and maintain a variety of complex filing systems and customer databases essential to the business.

2. Study the right subjects

While there is no specific study requirements for working as an Administration Assistant, strong English and Communication skills are essential. Depending on your precise role, you may be required to proofread or write out documents and correspondence, requiring a high level of accuracy.

If you wish to work as a payroll clerk (or own a business one day!) high school maths is important, and it would be to your advantage to complete an accountancy class if available at your school. Many schools also offer Business Principles subjects which are also beneficial in teaching the basics, and you can demonstrate your computer skills by taking computer science subjects!

Did you see Tammy’s story? Find out why her Administration Traineeship gave her a fresh start >

3. Obtain the right skills

One of the most important skills you can cultivate if you intend to become an Administration Assistant is your communication skills. Throughout the day, you’ll be required to communicate with a wide variety of people, whether via email, over the phone or face to face, so it’s important you’re well-spoken and able to clearly communicate your intent.  

You can do this while still at school by actively participating in team sports or in extracurricular clubs like debate team or drama club. If this isn’t your scene, try gaining a casual retail or food service position or volunteer with a charity on the weekends. This will give you more exposure to dealing with different types of people, increase your confidence and hone your communication skills.

4. Get industry experience

Gaining experience in business administration can start while you’re still at school by pursuing a school-based traineeship. Undertaken one day a week while you finish your senior schooling, a school-based traineeship will usually bestow a Certificate II in Business and gives you the opportunity to roll it over into a full time traineeship once you’ve finished school.

Sounds great – but how do I get one?! Check out our tips for securing a school-based traineeship >

If a school-based traineeship isn’t for you, you can seek a casual office assistant role on the weekends or volunteer for work experience with a local business. Many schools have a work experience scheme, or you can do this in your own time – this shows excellent commitment and initiative.

5. Sign up for a traineeship!

While you don’t necessarily need a traineeship to work full time in an office, it can be spectacularly advantageous to you in the long run. This is because a traineeship not only gives you on the job experience, and the opportunity to earn while you learn, but bestows a nationally recognised Certificate III qualification at the end! Many businesses prefer to take on trainees as they can train you “their way”, in how they like things to be done. This can also improve your career progression as many businesses will happily keep on a trainee after completion.

Fun fact – most of the administration assistants working in MIGAS offices around the country started out as our very own trainees and were offered full time positions with us once they finished!

You can look for a traineeship on our job boards, or other recruitment websites, as well as pursuing businesses directly. These positions are very popular and competitive so stick with it and don’t be discouraged!

Don’t forget to include a cover letter when you apply – follow our tips for writing one >

Read more about what an Administration Assistant does here >

Already convinced? Browse our Administration vacancies now >

Check out tips for starting out in other trades in our 5 Steps series >

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