When you first hear the terms administrative officer and administrative assistant, you probably think the jobs are similar. Both governments and the private sector like to come up with new and different fancy titles for what is essentially the same job to make it sound more impressive. This is why there are frequently people who will underestimate the responsibilities of the job they are applying for. I’m going to explain the jobs, their similarities, and their differences. Let’s start with the differences.
The main differences between an Admin Officer and an Admin Assistant are:
• Administrative Officers and Assistants Have Different Responsibilities
• Assistants Have to Help with One Office, Officers Can Be in Charge of Multiple Offices
• Officers Can Have More Authority
• The Experience Requirements and Salary Can Be Different
Administrative Officers and Assistants Have Different Responsibilities
While the jobs have similar-sounding titles, the responsibilities can be vastly different.
Take the responsibilities of administrative assistant. The administrative assistant tends to have two roles. First, you’re often the first person customers and clients see when they walk into or call the business. You have to be the greeter and the person who answers questions or forwards them to the people who can answer them. Administrative assistants have to perform secretarial duties for one department or persons. They have to set up meetings, manage schedules, and manage communication between other offices and clients. This can include memos, phone calls, and e-mails.
Depending on the work environment there may be some event planning work could be involved. This could be especially true if you’re working in a job involving a lot of fundraisers such as the non-profit sector.
Administrative officers have different roles. Think of being an administrative officer as a more advanced version of being an administrative assistant. You will still have some of the same duties as an administrative assistant. You’ll still have to handle clients and give them directions and information. You’ll also have to handle scheduling and communication between offices and customers.
The thing about being an administrative officer is that they’re not just handling these things for one staff member or office. Officers must juggle a lot more responsibility as they have to help run the entire office. When they work at smaller offices, they will have roles that would be typically handled by other teams. For example, when an organization doesn’t have a dedicated accounting department, an administrative officer may be asked to help with the budget. Even in mid-sized organizations, an administrative officer may find themselves managing at least part of their department’s budget
Administrative assistants are usually beneath administrative officers. You may often find that the officers are the supervisors of the assistants. Typically, assistants report their department’s needs to the officer. Take supply management for example/
Administrative officers are responsible for managing the supplies for the office and business. Like administrative assistants, they have to keep track of the inventory of everything from computer software to office supplies. However, the officers have the job of acquiring supplies. This means people, typically administrative assistants will be reporting their inventory needs to the officers. When vendors are dealing with an organization, chances are that they’ll be talking to an administrative officer.
The job of the administrative officer boils down to doing a lot of the behind-the-scenes work. While your average assistant may be scheduling meetings, the officers will have done the prep work to make sure the conference rooms are available and ready to use. While assistants may use various kinds of computer software, it is often on officers to make sure the licenses are up-to-date and that repair requests are made. This means that assistants have to stay in frequent contact with administrative officers. Officers, for their part, need to be able to manage requests from multiple departments. This requires a greater degree of organizational skill than being an administrative assistant.
Assistants Have to Help with One Office, Officers Can Be in Charge of Multiple Offices
In major companies that have multiple offices or governments, administrative assistants will only be in charge of one office or department. Officers will be in charge of multiple offices. This means while assistants will only need to be familiar with the department they work in, the officer will need to know the needs of multiple departments. That means they will need to have some extra knowledge of what they do.
For an administrative officer, being in charge of multiple offices means there may be some additional travel involved in the job. Most offices will require an officer to make regular trips to the offices they’re in charge of. This serves several purposes. First, it’s important to be a physical presence for the administrative assistants who report to you. People feel more confident communicating with you if they can put a face to a name. Keeping these lines of communication open is important since cascading failures can result if offices aren’t on the same page.
It’s also important because there is a chance that the assistant in a given office could miss something important when they send their reports to you. It most likely isn’t malicious but it’s always nice to have a second pair of eyes to drop in once in a while.
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Officers Can Have More Authority
Your average assistant carries out the orders of people above them. Officers on the other hand can have a bit more authority depending on the size of the business or organization.. Officers can often be in charge of hiring and firing (when there isn’t a need for a dedicated HR department). They can also be in charge of writing up policies and procedures.
Experience and Salary are Different
On average, an administrative assistant can make around $15 In contrast, an administrative officer is a salaried position that can earn around $75k a year on average thanks to the additional skills required. An administrative assistant is typically an entry-level position that typically requires a high-school diploma. Officers typically only require a high school diploma too but they will also need to have a few years of experience in office work under them and have a more varied skillset
1. Can college degrees help me get an administrative officer position?
That depends. Many larger firms will want their officer to have a degree. Most will simply promote from within. Having a degree in the thing your company is doing can’t hurt though.
2. What are some important skills for both jobs.
Both jobs require you to have good professional communication skills. You’ll also need organizational skills as well as the ability to use basic office computer software. Since there are times when you’ll have to deal with crises, the ability to perform under pressure is good to have.
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Please note: This blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please consult a legal expert to address your specific needs.
Hi! I’m Shawn Chun and I’m so grateful that you’re here.
Civil servants are some of the hardest working, most generous people I know. I have been passionate about all types of civil service career paths for years now and enjoy sharing everything I continue to learn about them.
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