Offices serve as the bases for the practice of professions and the administration of businesses, schools, hospitals, governmental agencies and other establishments. Negotiations, meetings and other interactions create documents that memorialize and carry out agreements and action plans generated by professionals in the office. The office assistant job description explains how these employees support the work of the organization and the knowledge, skills, and experience needed to fulfill this role.
What Does an Office Assistant Professional Do?
Within the umbrella of office assistant lies the tasks of organizer, typist, office supplier, mail delivery person, and receptionist. In these roles, the office assistant helps to maintain an efficiently run establishment providing quality service to clients, patients, and customers. These functions involve skills in typing, proofreading, organization, listening and operating various types of office equipment.
Office Assistant Job Description for Resume – Responsibilities
- Answer and direct telephone calls and emails.
- Deliver incoming facsimiles to intended recipients.
- Print, copy, scan documents, and file receipts, invoices, copies of payments and other documents.
- Type, proofread and format documents, such as correspondence or memoranda from directions written, dictated or otherwise delivered.
- Track levels of supplies and inventory in the office, and order inventory or supplies or inform office manager or other supervisors of the need to replenish inventory and supplies.
- Inform managers of malfunctioning computers, copiers, telephones, facsimile machines and other office equipment.
- Greet customers or clients.
Office Assistant Job Required Skills
Communication Skills. Office assistants need good speaking, listening and writing skills in order to answer phones, determine to whom a caller or message should be referred to, and prepare messages.
Computer Skills. The office assistant job description involves considerable use of computers and technology-based office equipment. Office assistants use word processors, email, scanners, and databases for some of their functions. These skills also include the ability to scan documents and photos, perform basic troubleshooting of connectivity, application and hardware problems.
Organizational Skills. Office assistants must properly file documents for ready access by others in the office. That means to be able to arrange and sort documents by type, subject matter, and date. Good organizational skills also entail placing supplies and inventory in designated or labeled places.
Customer Service Skills. For office assistants, customer service skills include prompt, patient and courteous responses to calls and messages. Moreover, in some situations, these workers encounter complaints by customers and others.
How to Become an Office Assistant Professional
Most office assistants learn the skills through certain classes in high school or community college and through work experience. In certain settings, an office assistant job can serve as an entry-level position for office work or employment in general.
Education & Training Requirements
Generally, an office assistant position requires a high school diploma. According to O*NET, 52 percent of “Office Clerks, General” are high school graduates or holders of equivalent degrees. Nearly a third are college graduates, while seven percent have taken college classes but not graduated.
Helpful classes for office assistants include typing, word processing, and spreadsheet use, as well as introductory business classes. English classes offer assistants knowledge of grammar, syntax, and spelling. For assistants working in particular or specialized settings, knowledge of the vocabulary is also useful. In law offices, office assistants may need introductory legal classes.
Most office assistants receive training from the employer. The orientation period may last up to a month and covers topics such as office policies, preferred methods for responding to calls and emails and the use of office equipment. While in legal and medical practices, office assistants may be instructed on restrictions like revealing client or patient information.
Applicants for office assistant jobs generally need some work experience. Employers may prefer candidates whose prior jobs have involved tasks typically performed by office assistants. These may include workers in mail or supply rooms, data entry clerks, receptionists, and records clerk.
Experience in customer service-related settings may help land office assistant jobs. Applications and resumes should mention restaurant server or hostess, cashiers, retail floor sales associate, service station clerks and other positions requiring regular contact with the public. Further, candidates with a history of working in governmental agencies, especially where the duties include responding to public records requests or accepting tax and governmental service payments, also need to demonstrate the ability to interact with the public.
Medical, dental or legal practices may require or prefer office assistants with a prior work history in these fields. Also, the duties in these offices require familiarity with the verbiage used by these professionals and basic knowledge of the professions.
Most office assistants work full-time, though part-time positions are fairly represented in the field. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately a quarter of “Office Clerks, General” worked on a part-time basis.
Typically, office assistants report for traditional business hours and weekdays. Some offices may operate beyond these hours. For example, office assistants may have evening or weekend shifts in medical clinics or care centers that open longer to accommodate patients’ schedules. In schools and educational settings, office assistants may have summer months off unless the school system operates year-round. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that approximately 12 percent of general office clerks worked in the educational sector.
Technology has allowed automation to perform the tasks otherwise performed by office assistants. Automatic answering systems direct calls to staff and professionals in the office. Through email or cloud technology, employees in the office can retrieve or send documents without the need of an office assistant. Moreover, computers, other devices, and cloud computing allow paperless storage of documents.
With these advancements have come a lower demand overall for office assistants. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a drop of one percent in the employment of general office clerks through 2026.
Strong prospects for employment growth among office assistants may lie in the healthcare and social assistance sector. The increase in the elderly population and greater access to health care have generated greater use of healthcare services. So, in these offices, the office assistant job description entails processing insurance claims and filing and tracking medical records.
Finally, the office assistant job description portrays workers who support and help keep the documentation of their offices’ activities. In a typical workday, office assistants must perform various types of tasks using different kinds of equipment. Skills ranging from communication to organization come to bear in the work of office assistants. However, with technological advances comes an increased reliance of employers on automated administrative tasks and less on humans to keep offices running.