When it comes to career paths and the jobs we aspire to, it’s easy to feel like there are only a few options on the table. But actually, there’s a whole world of different types of jobs and roles out there, and we’re on a mission to bring them to light and explain what they actually involve. Ahead, a look at office assistants—and over here, we’ve also got marketing managers, physical therapists, and executive assistants.
You know the saying “it takes a village?” Well, if we apply that saying to the running of an office, an office assistant is an integral part of that village.
As the name implies, an office assistant’s one and only job is to ensure the office runs as smoothly and efficiently as possible. Generally, you’ll work on administrative tasks, but if it serves the office as a whole, you might say that anything goes.
Accordingly, this role is a great entry-level position for anyone looking to cut their teeth in an office culture. You’ll learn the ropes in any number of areas—admin, operations, customer service, etc.—and hopefully, you’ll find yourself thriving in a fast-paced and sometimes challenging environment.
After a few years of experience, you’ll find yourself in good stead to move on to administrative assistant and executive assistant roles.
Here’s what you need to know about being an office assistant
Let’s start with some basics, shall we?
So, what are the typical duties of an office assistant?
According to Amanda Stubbs, a former office assistant in Bonnell’s Bay, Australia, an office assistant’s main role is to ensure the smooth running of the office.
This will include handling incoming phone calls, as well as taking and delivering messages. You’ll likely be called upon to do photocopying, scanning, and faxing, so you’ll quickly gain a working knowledge of how to use basic office equipment. Finally, it will pay off if you’re ultra-organized and thorough, as office assistants often handle filing duties, basic typing and correspondence, and data entry.
Ultimately, though, when it comes to ensuring the office runs smoothly, nothing is off limits—whether that means picking up lunch for your co-workers or ordering office supplies.
Who is this job ideally for?
The role of an office assistant is best performed by someone with a “reasonably social personality,” says Stubbs. Because you’ll be working with so many different personalities on a day-to-day basis, you need to be able to adapt quickly and work with “all types.”
People aside, says Stubbs, you need to be prepared for anything and everything. “You can have last-minute jobs, so you need to be able to work on the fly without getting stressed out.”
You’re more likely to excel in your role as an office assistant if you’re detail-oriented, organized, and practical. Ideally, you’ll also be eager to learn the ropes—especially if you’re looking to advance to an administrative assistant or executive assistant role.
What’s a typical day like for an office assistant?
There is no typical day for an office assistant. In the morning, you could be doing anything from answering phones and taking messages, while in the afternoon you could be tasked with sorting mail and preparing invoices and correspondence.
Generally, the type of work you’ll receive will vary, and it’ll all depend on the type of company that employs you and how much responsibility they want to give you in your role.
What are the usual job requirements?
In most cases, a high school diploma (or equivalent qualification) will be all that you need to qualify for a position as an office assistant. Of course, if you have previous experience, that will be looked upon favorably, but for entry-level jobs, this isn’t essential.
Ideally, you’ll be able to demonstrate fast typing skills and working knowledge of common software programs such as Microsoft Office suite. Aside from that, if you can demonstrate a good command of English (oral and written) and basic customer service skills, you’ll fit the bill just fine.
What’s the average salary like?
According to data collected by PayScale, an office assistant can expect to rake in $13 per hour, on average. An entry-level office assistant could expect to make $26K per year, on average, while those with 5 to 10 years of experience could see $29K per year, on average.