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Administration Career Pathways For School Leavers

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Overview

The administration industry covers a pretty broad scope of work and typical roles include secretory, customer service adviser and secretary. This work is favorable to those who a very organised, efficient and will enjoy facilitating the smooth running of a building, business or organisation.

Tasks you can expect in your day-to-day work in administration include: diary management for senior staff, taking deliveries, organising meetings and training sessions and being the key point of contact for a business - both on the phone and in person.

Over the last few years, there has been a significant change in the way that this industry is perceived. At one time, it was about serving the needs of others whereas now it is seen as a vital part of an organisation and it is highly depended on. It’s very important that this work is done well to ensure efficiency for the company, especially if it has a lot of departments and employees.

Skills

Organisation and attention to detail are the crucial skills to have in order to be successful in this industry. You’ll have to be a quick thinker and a dab hand at figuring out the most efficient way to do things. Other important skills include:

- Communication
- Diligence
- Planning
- Problem Solving
- Teamwork

Progression opportunities

Typical entry-level roles in this industry include receptionist or administrator, but many find that there are opportunities to develop their skillsets to move into more specialised positions - such as a medical secretary, or a PA.

In order to become a specialist in a particular area, you’ll need to pursue the relevant qualifications in the industry that you wish to specialise in and also have a good bit of experience behind you. Administration staff who can speak multiple languages are also highly sought after, particularly for companies who operate globally.

You should be in a position to apply for assistant level roles in administration after you complete your apprenticeship, if this is the route you decide to go down.

Career development

You can develop your career in administration through dedicating the time to upskill yourself and ensuring that you’re up to date on new programmes and systems. Your employer will likely provide you with the required training for this because their success is dependant on your role being carried out as efficiently as possible.

If you would like to develop your career by specialising in a particularly industry, such as medical or legal, you should look up secretary courses that you could take in the evening or online courses that focus on this area.

If you’ve completed an apprenticeship in this area, you could consider going on to university afterwards in order to increase your professional standing.

Earning potential

As an apprentice, you’ll earn a minimum of £3.70 per hour if you’re under 19 or in the first year of your apprenticeship, or the National Minimum Wage if you’re over 19. This works out at around £150 - £240 per week.

When starting out in the industry (even after your apprenticeship) your wage is likely to be modest, but due to the responsibilities placed upon you and the level of organisation and skill required you could see your salary increase quickly.

The average salary for a secretary in the UK is around £19,500, but initially your salary will likely be between £14,000 and £16,000 a year. For office administrators, salaries tend to be slightly lower at anything between £14,000 and £18,000. After a few years of experience, however, you could apply to be an office manager and expect a pay rise to £24,000 a year.

Personal Assistants typically earn around £25,000 a year and those who have specialised in a specific industry can earn in excess of £30,000.

Qualification requirements & subjects to study

Knowledge of business is hugely beneficial if you want to work in this sector, so if you’ve got a GCSE or another qualification in business or a related subject this is a good thing.

To get a job in this sector as a school leaver, it’s a good idea to undertake a vocational qualification. A diploma, certificate or short course can give you the practical skills you need to get a job in this sector – some options are:


Diploma in Business Administration (Level 2)
Certificate in Professional PA and Administrational Skills (Level 3)
Certificate in Office and Administration Management (Level 4)
Certificate in Principles of Business Administration (Level 4)
Diploma in Business & Administrative Management (Level 4)
Diploma in Business Administration (Level 4)
Diploma in Business and Administrative Management (Level 5)
Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Office Admin & Secretarial Course

Professional organisations such as the Institute of Administrative Management (IAM), as well as colleges, can provide these qualifications, as well as others that are certified by the industry. There is often also often the opportunity to study online, meaning you can fit studying around any other commitments you might have.

Industry Bodies

IAM – Institute of Administrative Management
Chartered Association of Business Administrators

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