Office And Administrative Support

It takes a lot of people to run an office, and a lot of skilled people to run it efficiently. For many industries, it is crucial that there exists a detailed record of all decisions and actions. This may mean recording and analyzing financial data, or the extensive file of a hospital patient, or an organized brief to be filed at city hall. Office and administrative personnel direct and organize action.

Office workers may have similar responsibilities and job functions but work in completely different industries. A clerk is a clerk, right? Nope! There are a number of jobs in this category that you would not guess belong to this category. (But there are a few clerks, too.) Bookkeepers, bank tellers, customer service representatives, and emergency service dispatchers are all a part of this occupational category, and they provide meaningful contributions to their organizations.

Office and administrative personnel are needed in virtually every career category, the duties of whom can vary widely depending on where they work.

Opportunities may require:

  • Maintaning and updating organized filing systems
  • Creating detailed reports to detail previous action and to project the future
  • Answer phones professionally and direct callers to the appropriate person to assist them
  • Interacting with customers or personnel and helping them find direction or solutions
  • Receiving and processing transactions in a variety of settings
  • Managing office and other personnel
  • Keeping detailed records
  • Managing and ordering supplies necessary for the office's work
  • Communicating with customers, coworkers, and office staff about opportunities and important information

    Careers in this category require different skills and backgrounds, depending on the job kind and purpose. An administrative assistance at a small high school will have different responsibilities and expectations than the assistant to the CEO of financial services firm.

    Skills and experience are the most important attributes, but some opportunities require additional training or education. There is not a universal requirement for education in this industry, but a high school diploma is preferred. Employers may require applicants to have a minimum education level, like a bachelor's degree, in order to apply; others may only care whether the employee is well versed in office computing programs.

    Candidates should have a good command of English and solid computer skills-customer service skills are also valued. Most offices require frequent computer usage and require knowledge of word processors, database managers, and other programs. Much of the career training can happen on-the-job, and some skills can be learned at any time. Many clerk positions, especially entry-level ones, incorporate several weeks of training after hiring. Some positions require more in-depth education, but it depends on the industry and the specialization of the work.

    In a few cases, certification or licensing is required to work. Bookkeepers, auditors, insurance and finance customer service representatives, and emergency service dispatchers encourage or require specific education and certification. The exact nature of this will vary state by state, but passing an exam, in addition to approved training, may be necessary to work in these fields.


    • Computer skills Much of the work in this industry is specifically for a customer-installing, maintaining, or repairing a person's car, refrigerator, computer, or appliance. Knowing how to interact with customers, how to explain assessments and fees, and solve problems is a critical, overlooked aspect of these jobs.
    • Communication skills. The bigger the job, the more parts involved. Machines and technology involve complex designs and structures and problems arise when even the smallest piece malfunctions. Workers need to be able to focus and have a critical eye for all parts of the project.
    • Customer-service skills. Because so much of the work is physical, workers know they will have to get their hands dirty. Pieces, parts, and technology can be delicate and the work precise.
    • Detail oriented. The mechanical side of the work can be very physically demanding. Machinery and parts must be hauled to the place of installation or replacement, with heavy equipment making the process tiring. The job isn't done until the new fridge makes it from the trunk to the kitchen, no matter how tired you are!
    • Organization skills. In order to fix something, you have to understand how and why it broke in the first place. Isolating problems and coming up with practical, workable solutions is important, especially when the work only requires one person's effort.


    The job outlook depends on the industry the office workers support. The post office, for example, will be drastically downsized in the next several years, so it will not provide job growth on par with other jobs in this category. Positions for clerks will grow on par with the national average for all jobs, but this changes depending on the kind of clerk, and in the financial sector, the kind of specialty in which the financial clerk works. As the economy improves overall, general office workers and customer service representatives will have more opportunities, and for all categories there will be a need to replace workers who are retiring or moving to another industry.

      Occupation Description Entry-Level Education 2012 Median Pay
    Bill and account collectors Bill and account collectors

    Bill and account collectors, sometimes called collectors, try to recover payment on overdue bills. They negotiate repayment plans with debtors and help them find solutions to make paying their overdue bills easier.'

    High school diploma or equivalent $32,480
    Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks

    Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks produce financial records for organizations. They record financial transactions, update statements, and check financial records for accuracy.'

    High school diploma or equivalent $35,170
    Customer service representatives Customer service representatives

    Customer service representatives handle customer complaints, process orders, and provide information about an organization’s products and services.'

    High school diploma or equivalent $30,580
    Desktop publishers Desktop publishers

    Desktop publishers use computer software to design page layouts for newspapers, books, brochures, and other items that are printed or put online. They collect the text, graphics, and other materials they will need and format them into a finished product.'

    Associate's degree $37,040
    Financial clerks Financial clerks

    Financial clerks do administrative work for many types of organizations. They keep records, help customers, and carry out financial transactions.'

    High school diploma or equivalent $34,960
    General office clerks General office clerks

    General office clerks perform a variety of administrative tasks, including answering telephones, typing or word processing, making copies of documents, and maintaining records.'

    High school diploma or equivalent $27,470
    Information clerks Information clerks

    Information clerks perform routine clerical duties such as maintaining records, collecting data, and providing information to customers.'

    High school diploma or equivalent $30,650
    Material recording clerks Material recording clerks

    Material recording clerks keep track of information in order to keep businesses and supply chains on schedule. They ensure proper scheduling, recordkeeping, and inventory control.'

    High school diploma or equivalent $24,810
    Police, fire, and ambulance dispatchers Police, fire, and ambulance dispatchers Police, fire, and ambulance dispatchers, also called 9-1-1 operators or public safety telecommunicators, answer emergency and nonemergency calls.' High school diploma or equivalent $36,300
    Postal service workers Postal service workers

    Postal Service workers sell postal products and collect, sort, and deliver mail.'

    High school diploma or equivalent $53,100
    Receptionists Receptionists

    Receptionists perform administrative tasks, such as answering phones, receiving visitors, and providing general information about their organization to the public and customers.'

    High school diploma or equivalent $25,990
    Secretaries and administrative assistants Secretaries and administrative assistants

    Secretaries and administrative assistants perform routine clerical and administrative duties. They organize files, draft messages, schedule appointments, and support other staff.'

    High school diploma or equivalent $35,330
    Tellers Tellers

    Tellers are responsible for accurately processing routine transactions at a bank. These transactions include cashing checks, depositing money, and collecting loan payments.'

    High school diploma or equivalent $24,940

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