Best Online Associate in Administrative Assistant Programs
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Nearly every industry needs qualified administrative assistants. These professionals perform front-facing and behind-the-scenes tasks. Without their help, organizations would fail to run smoothly. Thanks to convenient online learning options, anyone can pursue this career. In fact, online business programs tend to cost less than in-person programs.
Most administrative assistants work in offices, but many professionals work remotely. The need for virtual assistants is rising, especially because of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, there may be fewer open positions available for some roles in this industry.
In this guide, we discuss the career outlook and salary information using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Discover what it takes to earn an online administrative assistant associate degree. Keep reading to also learn what to consider when choosing a program, such as cost and location.
What Can I Expect From an Online Associate in Administrative Assistant Program?
During their studies, aspiring administrative assistants hone communication and technical skills. An online associate in administrative assistant program features lectures and class discussions. Some courses may also require live video discussion calls. Others feature discussion forums where students type responses based on prompts. Some professors give lectures and answer questions in real-time. Others pre-record their lectures.
Online exams are usually timed, and students are forbidden from opening new tabs to research answers. Certain virtual programs may require learners to take proctored exams at test sites. As in most degree programs, students can expect tests with multiple-choice and essay questions.
An associate in administrative assistant program usually takes full-time learners two years to finish. Students complete the required 60 credits by taking about 15 credits per semester. Some virtual programs may require learners to participate in internships, as well. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin suggest that students should study 2-3 hours per week, per credit.
Many programs also allow learners to pick a concentration. Common concentrations include medical administrative assisting and legal administrative assisting.
Most schools pair students with academic advisers. These university professionals work as mentors. They can help learners select the best courses for their career goals and schedules. Graduates also often receive support through an alumni network.
Popular Online Associate Programs
Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.
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What Courses Will I Take in an Online Associate in Administrative Assistant Program?
In this class, students examine interpersonal communication theories and how they influence daily interactions. Learners also examine nonverbal communication cues. Students work on a group project to test their interpersonal communication skills.
In this course, students practice using data entry and record-keeping software. The class also covers general software, like Microsoft Excel, using free software trials. However, some courses may require students to purchase some software.
An accounting foundation class covers financial management from an assistant perspective. Students learn how to record and implement budgets. This class also covers auditing and interest rate calculation.
In a class about record-keeping, students learn how to maintain and protect company records. The course highlights record-keeping methods for client information and inventory. Students also learn how to create a distribution management system.
In an office procedures course, students learn about common business structures. Students also learn how to make travel arrangements and schedule appointments. This class covers telephone and office etiquette.
Additional Courses in an Administrative Assistant Associate Program
Coursework in an administrative assistant associate program differs from school to school. The list of sample courses below are just a few examples of classes that you might take during your program.
Administrative assistants use computers on a daily basis, so keyboard and typing skills are essential elements of an associate program in this field. This course may come in multiple levels, and establishes strong typing skills, demonstrates the use of keyboard shortcuts, and other important topics.
Many of an administrative assistant's tasks feature written communication, primarily conducted through word processing software. Courses in word processing help students understand the basics of this software, and how to use it efficiently and effectively.
Keeping track of data and information through the use of interactive spreadsheets makes up a great deal of an administrative assistant's duties. These courses teach essential skills in software like Excel, and how to use them in a business setting.
Most college students take some form of composition as a general education requirement. This class covers the basics of composition and writing, but with assignments and skills geared towards students who ultimately enter careers in business. The course emphasizes effective written communication and rhetoric.
Since much of what an administrative assistant does is on a computer, this course introduces the fundamental skills in computers. This includes using various operating systems, working with different types of software, and using the internet for work purposes.
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What Are Admission Requirements for an Online Associate in Administrative Assistant Program?
Most applications require students to answer basic demographic questions and submit official transcripts, test scores, and recommendation letters. Schools also often require applicants to answer short essay questions or submit an application essay.
Transcripts must be delivered to all institutions a student applies to by their previous schools and arrive sealed. Recommendation letters should be written by a student's former employer, teacher, or mentor. Most colleges also request that students fill out the FAFSA. They use this to determine scholarship allocation.
To gain admission to any college, individuals must possess a high school degree. Some schools accept an equivalent like the GED diploma. Most colleges and universities also set minimum GPA, and SAT or ACT score requirements. However, community colleges usually allow anyone to enroll. Associate programs rarely require application interviews. Applicants receive admittance confirmation or denial through an email or letter.
What Can I Do With an Online Associate in Administrative Assistant Degree?
Some careers in this field are rising and others are declining. The BLS projects that the need for receptionists should grow by 4% between 2020 and 2030. However, the need for bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks is projected to decrease by 3% during the same period. The BLS also projects positions for customer service representatives will decrease by 1%. For context, the average projected growth rate across all occupations is 8%.
As more jobs become remote and self-employment rates rise, the need for virtual assistants may increase. Virtual assistants may find work through an agency, or work with their own clients.
Salary also varies greatly by career type. In the next section, we highlight jobs graduates often pursue with this degree. Learn more about where an associate in administrative assistant can take you.
Secretaries and Administrative Assistants
These professionals assist companies with organization efforts, answer phone calls, and coordinate meetings. Some secretaries and administrative assistants support one senior professional, like a CEO or executive director. Others provide help for entire departments. Around half of all assistants work in healthcare, education, and professional services.
Median Annual Salary (May 2020): $40,990
Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerks
These clerks organize financial records for the companies they work for. They must possess strong math skills and use specific software and databases. They produce balance sheets and reports and verify the accuracy of financial records. Some bookkeepers and clerks work part-time for one office. Others work full-time for multiple clients.
Median Annual Salary (May 2020): $42,410
General Office Clerks
Nearly every industry hires general office clerks. These professionals answer phones, create documents, and organize records. Many people working in these roles help digitize records and distribute incoming mail. They must know how to use basic computer software, like Microsoft Office. Some companies require these clerks to complete additional tasks, like helping to plan internal company events.
Median Annual Salary (May 2020): $35,330
Receptionists typically work at front desks in offices. They greet customers and clients who visit in person. They also answer phone calls and stock office supplies. The healthcare and social assistance industries hire the most receptionists. However, receptionists work in nearly every field.
Median Annual Salary (May 2020): $31,110
Customer Service Representatives
These employees work one-on-one with customers to ensure satisfaction. They field customer complaints and solve issues. Customer service representatives must possess strong knowledge of the company they represent and communication skills. Customer service representatives can work in offices or remotely.
Median Annual Salary (May 2020): $35,830
Administrative Assistant Not For You? Check Out These Related Careers.
Earning an administrative assistant associate degree can prepare you to eventually transfer to a four-year bachelor's program. A bachelor's degree often provides higher salary opportunities than just an associate degree alone, making it a great option to advance in your career or even pursue other career options. Students with an administrative assistant associate degree could benefit from pursuing one of the bachelor's degrees listed below.
Administrative assistants do not need continuing education to fulfill any licensure requirements. Yet, administrative assistants may improve their job prospects by pursuing additional education. Continuing education may also help assistants earn raises in their current roles. Professionals who go on to earn bachelor's degrees may also make more money.
Professional organizations often offer continuing education through webinars and conferences. The American Society of Administrative Professionals, for example, offers a Professional Administrative Certification of Excellence.
Businesses like Microsoft also provide certifications for many software programs, including Excel. Reading industry newsletters and journals can also help assistants stay up-to-date on industry knowledge.
Keep in mind that continuing education opportunities often cost money. You should check with your employer to see if they reimburse employees for professional development expenses.
Bachelor of Arts in Business
A BA in business builds upon many of the same basic skills in an associate program, like management, communication, and using software to facilitate business. You may also take courses in mathematics, ethics, logic and reasoning, and entrepreneurship.
Bachelor of Arts in Accounting
The BA in accounting features courses in different areas of mathematics, for which an associate degree offers good preparation. This degree also emphasizes using computers and software for accounting, auditing, and taxes.
Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts
A liberal arts degree is a great option for students who may wish to explore multiple areas of study housed under a single degree. These degrees allows students to customize their coursework, giving them an opportunity to take courses in different departments and obtain a broader education.
How Do I Choose an Online Associate in Administrative Assistant Program?
Cost is likely a primary factor students consider when choosing a program. In addition to tuition, learners should assess the true cost of college by factoring in extra expenses. These include textbooks, activity fees, and room and board. Keep in mind that out-of-state and on-campus programs often cost more than in-state or online options. However, financial aid, including scholarships, grants, and loans, can impact a college's affordability, too.
A program's format can influence learners' success. People who want to graduate more quickly should consider accelerated programs. Alternatively, people who work may prefer a part-time option. Synchronous programs offer more accountability with scheduled class times. While learners who want flexibility often thrive in asynchronous programs.
Even aspiring virtual learners should consider the program's location. Many online programs feature some in-person requirements. Students should double check whether the programs they're interested in mandate any campus visits and decide whether that would be feasible. Also, living within driving distance to your school can be beneficial, regardless. Online students are often allowed to use campus facilities, like the library or recreation center, and can seek guidance from their professors in person.
When it comes to determining a program's quality, pay attention to college accreditation. The Department of Education oversees third-party accrediting agencies that grant accreditation based on assessments. Schools may earn regional or national accreditation. Colleges and universities must take steps to maintain accreditation each year.
Before enrolling in an associate in administrative assistant program, research thestudent services each school offers. Some colleges coordinate internship and mentorship programs, for example. Many also have alumni networks and career centers to help students and graduates find employment. Certain schools provide online student services, as well, including online tutoring services.
Best Accredited Online Associate in Administrative Assistant Programs
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Frequently Asked Questions About Associate in Administrative Assistant Programs
Is an associate degree in administrative assistant worth it?
Many graduates find earning an online administrative assistant associate degree worth it. Administrative assistants typically only need a high school or GED diploma. However, workers with an associate degree may earn more. According to the BLS, people with an associate degree earned a median weekly income of about $940 in 2020. During the same period, people with only a high school degree earned a median weekly income of $780.
People who possess an associate degree also leave open the option to earn a bachelor's degree. An associate degree program only takes two years to complete. Also, many schools offer affordable online options. As a result, the time and financial investment are low compared to the potential reward.
How fast can I get an associate in administrative assistant degree online?
Typically, full-time learners spend two years earning an associate in administrative assistant degree. However, accelerated programs may take as little as half the time to finish. These fast-paced programs often require study during the summer months and may not be a fit for working students. Busy professionals may complete an associate degree on a part-time basis in about four years.
Some students may also find an online program faster to complete. Virtual learners in asynchronous programs are able to work on coursework at their own pace.
Is an online associate degree in administrative assistant credible?
To determine a program's credibility, check its accreditation status. Both colleges and programs can earn accreditation. The Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs works as a leading accrediting agency in this field.
Many community colleges offer associate degrees. Community colleges typically receive national accreditation, whereas colleges and universities often earn regional accreditation. National accrediting bodies serve institutions all across America. Regional accrediting bodies serve particular regions in the U.S.
How much money can I make with an associate in an administrative assistant?
According to PayScale, administrative assistants earned an average annual salary of $40,410 in November 2021. Their findings also show how years of experience influence pay. Professionals in this role with less than one year of experience earned an average of roughly $15 per hour. Assistants with more than 20 years of experience earned over $18 an hour.
Location, industry, and employer also impact salary. Organizations in larger cities often pay more to account for the higher cost of living. Additionally, assistants working at nonprofits may earn less than those at large tech companies.
Is an associate degree in administrative assistant in demand?
The BLS projects the need for secretaries and administrative assistants to decrease by 7% between 2020 and 2030. However, the need for assistants may grow for fast growing industries. So, consider earning a degree with a concentration in a growing field. Additionally, the need for virtual assistants may increase. Especially since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, more jobs have moved online, including administrative assistants.