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Administration Career Pathways & Advice

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Overview

Administration covers a large area, encompassing roles from personal PA to Office Manager. Tasks could include managing the diary of a senior director, coordinating the office supply chain, assisting with HR tasks, organising paperwork, being the main point of contact on an office switchboard, or scheduling important meetings – amongst many other things.

Despite the variety of tasks, the ethos across the sector doesn’t differ: it’s about organisation, diligence, and the attention to detail that allows everything within a business or organisation to run smoothly.

There has been a shift in the way administration is seen over the past few years, from an industry that was largely about serving the needs of others to one that is at the very heart of ensuring an organisation runs smoothly. People working in administration, secretarial and PA roles need to be hyper-organised and incredibly reliable, with one ear to the ground so they know what’s going on at all times. It’s not a skill set that everyone can say they’ve got.

Skills

The most important skills for those working in the administration and secretarial fields are organisation and attention to detail. You’ll also need to be hardworking, with a drive to get things done quickly and a mature and capable attitude towards work.

Other essential skills include:

- Communication
- Microsoft Excel
- Microsoft Word
- Planning
- Problem Solving
- Teamwork

Progression opportunities

Whilst most of those working in this field begin as administrators, many will find that their careers can progress to a much higher level. Requiring more specialised skills, secretaries and PAs usually represent the next step along the career path. Make yourself invaluable as a PA to a high level manager, and your career holds no bounds.

One particular way to progress within this industry is to become a specialist in a particular area, allowing you to move into an administration role within this area. Examples include training to become a legal or medical secretary or administrator, both of which require specific knowledge and will elevate the opportunities you’re qualified for. Similarly, if you have language skills you may be in a good position to work for a company that works bilingually or across more than one country.

Career development

There is always the chance to upskill in this industry, with new ways to work and new programs and systems to learn to ensure that you’re on top of your game. Practical skills are the way to do this, and it is likely that your organisation will be in a good position to keep you up to date with required training opportunities – after all, their success depends on your role being carried out as efficiently as possible.

Outside of work, learning about particular industries could lead you to position yourself as a specialist within these areas. Legal or medical secretary courses in the evening or online could be a good career move if this is your goal.

Related Companies

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Earning potential

Starting salaries for secretaries are often between £14,000 and £16,000 a year, with this rising to between £16,000 and £20,000 with experience. The average salary for a secretary in the UK is around £19,500.

For office administrators, salaries usually fall between £14,000 and £18,000 a year. With experience you are likely to earn between £19,000 and £23,000. The average salary for office managers is around £24,000.

The average UK salary for a Personal Assistant is £25,000 a year, with many PAs in corporate companies or with specialist industry knowledge earning £30,000+.

Qualification requirements & subjects to study

Graduates with degrees in any subject can move into an administration or secretarial role, although knowledge of businesses and the processes that make it successful are of huge benefit.

How to get there

As a graduate looking to work in this sector, it might be valuable 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 the opportunity to study online, meaning you can fit studying around your other commitments.

Industry Bodies

IAM – Institute of Administrative Management, the oldest professional body for administration and business management in the UK
Chartered Association of Business Administrators