Best Online Associate in Administrative Assistant Programs of 2021

Learn what it takes to earn an administrative assistant associate degree. Discover the salary and career outlook for graduates.

portrait of Tessa Cooper
by Tessa Cooper
Published on December 1, 2021
Edited by Rebecca Long

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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.

Still Looking for the Right Fit? Discover Similar Degree Programs.

What Courses Will I Take in an Online Associate in Administrative Assistant Program?

Interpersonal Communication

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.

Administrative Software

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.

Accounting Foundations

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.

Record Keeping

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.

Office Procedures

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.

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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?

Career Outlook

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.

Career Paths


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

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.

Continuing Education

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.

How Do I Choose an Online Associate in Administrative Assistant Program?

Cost

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.

Program Format

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.

Location

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.

Accreditation

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.

Student Support

Before enrolling in an associate in administrative assistant program, research thestudent services each school offers. Some collegescoordinate internshipandmentorship programs, for example. Many also have alumni networks and career centers to help students and graduates find employment. Certain schools provideonline student services, as well, including online tutoring services.

2021 Best Accredited Online Associate in Administrative Assistant Programs

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Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College View School Profile ,

Founded in 1912 and located in Shell Lake, Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College offers anadministrative coordinator associate degree that focuses on preparing students for administrative work in a variety of industries. For example, learners who graduate from this online program can pursue jobs in nonprofit, education, and healthcare settings.

The curriculum covers software/hardware knowledge, as well as interpersonal communication skills. Coursework also focuses on event planning, troubleshooting technology needs, and serving as a successful virtual assistant. Interested applicants need a high school diploma or GED certificate to apply.

Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Administrative Coordinator (Administrative Professional) Associate Degree
School Status: Public
Tuition: $163 per credit (in-state); $232 per credit (out-of-state)
Credit Requirements: 60 credits
Program Length: 2 years
Format: Online

Admission Requirements

GPA: No minimum specified
Standardized Tests: Not required

Contact the School

Request more information about this program.

Northeast Community College View School Profile ,

Located in Norfolk, Nebraska, Northeast Community College offers over 130 academic programs. Theadministrative professional degrees offered by the college focus on developing strong technical skills.

Students can pursue a 64-credit AAS or a 60-credit AS. Coursework in both programs covers topics like accounting, records management, data processing, and keyboarding. Students in the AAS track also complete an internship, gaining important on-the-job-experience.

The International Association of Administrative Professionals supports students in this program with networking events and other opportunities. All applicants need a high school diploma or a GED certificate to apply. Northeast Community College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Administrative Professional - Associate of Applied Science or Associate of Arts
School Status: Public
Tuition: $105 per credit (in-state); $147 per credit (out-of-state)
Credit Requirements: 60 or 64 credits
Program Length: 2 years
Format: Online

Admission Requirements

GPA: No minimum specified
Standardized Tests: ACT or SAT required

Contact the School

Request more information about this program.

McHenry County College View School Profile ,

Founded in 1967 and located in Crystal Lake, Illinois, McHenry County College's online administrative office management program focuses on topics like human relations, communication, and the latest technology procedures.

Graduates can pursue work as office managers, medical office assistants, and office support specialists. To improve their employment prospects, individuals can also take national certification exams offered by the International Association of Administrative Professionals upon graduation.

Students must maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA to graduate, and applicants should have a high school diploma or a GED certificate. McHenry County College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Administrative Office Management - Associate of Applied Science
School Status: Public
Tuition: In-district: $169 per credit (in-district, in-state); $427 per credit (out-of-district, in-state); $522 pre credit (out-of-state)
Credit Requirements: 60 credits
Program Length: 64 weeks
Format: Online

Admission Requirements

GPA: No minimum specified
Standardized Tests: ACT or SAT scores used for placement

Contact the School

Request more information about this program.

Minnesota West Community and Technical College View School Profile ,

Based in Worthington, Minnesota West Community and Technical College delivers online classes as well as on-campus options in multiple locations throughout the state, including Canby, Granite Falls, Jackson, and Pipestone.

The school's online administrative assistant associate program awards an AAS and features coursework that provides students with essential knowledge in word processing, data entry, business communications, public relations, and more. Students also go over records management and proper filling systems. Interested applicants need a high school diploma to apply. Minnesota West Community and Technical College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Administrative Assistant - Associate of Applied Science
School Status: Public
Tuition: $194 per credit
Credit Requirements: 60 credits
Program Length: 2 years
Format: Online

Admission Requirements

GPA: No minimum specified
Standardized Tests: Not required

Contact the School

Request more information about this program.

Vincennes University View School Profile ,

Vincennes University — based in southwest Indiana — enrolls over 17,000 students across multiple campuses and online. The school's online associate of science in information technology program offers a concentration in business office management technology. Graduates can pursue entry-level employment in the field or transfer to a four-year institution.

Students in this program learn about using communication tools in a professional office environment. Specific courses include business documents and presentations, web page design, and information and data security. Applicants need a high school diploma or GED. Vincennes University is regionally accredited by the HLC.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Associate of Science in Information Technology With a Business Office Management Technology Concentration
School Status: Public
Tuition: $220 per credit (in-state); $275 per credit (out-of-state)
Credit Requirements: 60 credits
Program Length: 2 years
Format: Online

Admission Requirements

GPA: No minimum specified
Standardized Tests: Not required

Contact the School

Request more information about this program.

Barton County Community College View School Profile ,

Founded in 1969, Barton County Community College now enrolls over 15,000 students annually. The school's online associate of applied science in business administrative technology program prepares students for high-level administrative support roles. Participants learn to prepare statistical reports, handle information requests, conduct research, and perform clerical functions.

Graduates conduct a job search project at the end of the program and perform mock interviews in order to prepare for employment. This degree is intended to prepare graduates for entry-level careers, and it may not be suitable for students interested in transferring to a four-year school after graduation. Applicants need a high school diploma or GED to enroll.

Barton County Community College is regionally accredited by the HLC.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Associate of Applied Science in Business Administrative Technology
School Status: Public
Tuition: $150 per credit
Credit Requirements: 64 credits
Program Length: 2 years
Format: Online

Admission Requirements

GPA: No minimum required
Standardized Tests: Not required

Contact the School

Request more information about this program.

Chippewa Valley Technical College View School Profile ,

Founded in 1912, Chippewa Valley Technical College has campuses in multiple locations across the state. The college also offers a variety of online programs, including an associate-levelexecutive assistant degree that prepares students to work in the legal or medical field with two different concentrations.

Coursework helps participants develop strong communication and computer skills. Students also learn to coordinate events, prepare presentations, support business leaders, and manage projects. The program offers several internship opportunities so students can gain real-world experience. Upon graduation, students may take the customer service representative or human resources administration certificate exam.

Applicants need a high school diploma or GED certificate to enroll. Chippewa Valley Technical College is regionally accredited by the HLC, and its executive assistant program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Executive Assistant - Associate Degree
School Status: Public
Tuition: $149 per credit
Credit Requirements: 60 credits
Program Length: 2 years
Format: Online

Admission Requirements

GPA: No minimum specified
Standardized Tests: No requirements specified

Contact the School

Request more information about this program.

Jamestown Community College View School Profile ,

Located in southwest New York, Jamestown Community College enrolls a little over 2,000 students every year. The college offers an online administrative professional degree that teaches students important communication, management, and organization skills.

Coursework in this associate of applied science program focuses on using industry-standard technology and filing within an organization. The curriculum also helps develop necessary soft skills, such as problem-solving and decision-making. Individuals need a high school diploma or a GED certificate to be eligible for enrollment. Jamestown Community College is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Administrative Professional - Associate of Applied Science
School Status: Public
Tuition: $217 per credit hour (in-state); $434 per credit hour (out-of-state)
Credit Requirements: 60 credits
Program Length: 2 years
Format: Online

Admission Requirements

GPA: No minimum specified
Standardized Tests: ACT or SAT scores used for placement

Contact the School

Request more information about this program.

Palo Alto College View School Profile ,

With a main campus located in San Antonio, Texas, Palo Alto College offers in-person classes to students at multiple Texas locations. The school also oversees online programs, including anadministrative assistant associate of applied science program that covers organization, management, and industry technology. Graduates of the program leave prepared to work in a variety of administrative settings.

To customize their study, students can work towards a variety of certificates while enrolled in the program. These include general office, secretarial assistant, administrative assistance, and bill and account collector credentials. A milestone course on information and data entry is also required. Palo Alto College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Administrative Assistant - Associate of Applied Science
School Status: Public
Tuition: $86 per credit (in-district, in-state); $215 per credit (out-of-district, in-state); $466 per credit (out-of-state)
Credit Requirements: 60 credits
Program Length: 2 years
Format: Online

Admission Requirements

GPA: No minimum requirements
Standardized Tests: Not required

Contact the School

Request more information about this program.

Chemeketa Community College View School Profile ,

Located in Salem, Oregon, Chemeketa Community College boasts small class sizes throughout its multiple campus locations. The school also offers online programs, including a suite of offerings for aspiring administrative assistant. Learners can choose from online AAS degrees for aspiring accounting administrative assistants, medical administrative assistants, administrative office professionals, and virtual office assistants.

Coursework focuses on coordinating field-specific processes and producing documents in various professional office environments. Interested applicants need a high school diploma or a GED to enroll. Chemeketa Community College is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Office Administration and Technology - Associate of Applied Science
School Status: Public
Tuition: $126 per quarter credit
Credit Requirements: 92-101 quarter credits
Program Length: 2 years
Format: Online

Admission Requirements

GPA: No minimum specified
Standardized Tests: Not required

Contact the School

Request more information about this program.

Frequently Asked Questions About Associate in Administrative Assistant Programs

Is an associate degree in administrative assistant worth it? true

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? true

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? true

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.

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BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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