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An administrative assistant associate degree can lead to career paths in numerous fields. Almost every industry requires these professionals, who perform clerical tasks such as scheduling appointments, preparing reports, and maintaining databases. Many graduates work in the medical, legal, and educational sectors, or as government employees.

Although many assistant positions are in decline, the growing need for assistants in the healthcare sector provides a bright spot. TheBureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 10% job growth for medical secretaries and administrative assistants from 2019-2029.

OurAssociate in Administrative Assisting Program Guide offers an in-depth look into career opportunities, how to pick the best program for your professional interests, and the steps required to earn your degree.

What Are the Best Online Administrative Assistant Associate Programs of 2020? Here Are Our Top Five:

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Rank School Location
1 Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College Shell Lake, WI
2 Copiah-Lincoln Technical College Wesson, MS
3 Trinity Valley Community College Athens, TX
4 East Mississippi Community College Scooba, MS
5 Northeast Community College Norfolk, NE
How We Rank Schools

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2020 Best Accredited Online Administrative Assistant Associate Programs

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Rank School Location Cost Graduation Rate Description Toggle
1

Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College

Shell Lake, WI Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 55%

Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College offers an online administrative professional associate degree. Students in this program learn the software and organizational skills needed to work in a variety of office settings. Graduates can pursue work as executive assistants and office managers.

This online associate in administrative assistant program requires 60 credits and takes two years to complete. Core courses include financial accounting, MS Outlook, Adobe Photoshop, document formatting, proofreading for the office, and desktop publishing.

Applicants must hold a high school diploma or GED certificate. This program does not have strict testing or academic admission requirements, although competitive applicants should have a minimum GPA of 2.1. Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College is regionally accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.

2

Copiah-Lincoln Technical College

Wesson, MS Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 45%

Copiah-Lincoln Technical College offers an online associate degree in administrative office technology that introduces students to office procedures, computer applications, financial systems, and communications. This program prepares graduates for entry-level positions as office administrators, accounting clerks, records clerks, and word processing specialists.

This 60-credit degree can be completed in two years. Core courses cover topics like business accounting, applied business math, Microsoft Word, Quickbooks, and desktop publishing. As a part of the degree, students are also awarded a technical certificate in administrative office technology.

Applicants must hold a high school diploma (or the GED equivalent) and submit ACT scores with a minimum composite score of 14. Copiah-Lincoln Technical College is regionally accredited by theSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

3

Trinity Valley Community College

Athens, TX Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 76%

Trinity Valley Community College offers an online associate of applied science in office technology. The program prepares graduates to coordinate office procedures and activities, although it can also lead to a bachelor of applied arts and sciences at some universities.

Students complete 60 credits over the course of two years. Core classes include introduction to spreadsheets, word processing, desktop publishing, and business computer applications. Students also earn a certificate in office technology.

Applicants are required to submit high school transcripts. Students may also be asked to sit for the Texas Success Initiative exam. Trinity Valley Community College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

4

East Mississippi Community College

Scooba, MS Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 37%

East Mississippi Community College is located in the town of Scooba. The college offers an online office assistant track that includes career certificate, technical certificate, and associate of applied science options.

Students are awarded a career certificate for completing 30 credits, a technical certificate for completing 45 credits, and an associate degree for completing 60 credits. The associate-level program can be completed in two years or less. Core courses include principles of accounting, Microsoft Word, records management, social media management, and Quickbooks. Students also have the opportunity to take OPAC national certification exams as part of the program.

Applicants must have scores of at least 14 in the English, math, and reading sections of the ACT or ACCUPLACER scores of at least 21 in pre-algebra, 39 in writing, and 64 in reading. East Mississippi Community College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

5

Northeast Community College

Norfolk, NE Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 48%

Northeast Community College has an online administrative professional program that can lead to an associate of applied science, associate of arts, certificate, or diploma. Graduates of these programs develop competencies related to the latest office methods and technology skills.

The associate of arts option requires 60 credits, while the associate of applied science option requires 64 credits. Core courses include administrative professional procedures, intermediate keyboarding, advanced Microsoft Word certification, and Excel spreadsheet applications. Students who choose the AAS track must also complete a cooperative internship where they gain hands-on experience.

Applicants must submit high school transcripts and SAT or ACT scores. Tuition is most affordable for Nebraska, Iowa, and South Dakota residents. Northeast Community College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

6

Palo Alto College

San Antonio, TX Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 34%

Palo Alto College awards an online administrative assistant degree that prepares graduates to assume administrative responsibilities and manage office environments. Graduates are eligible for entry-level positions or they can pursue further education.

The curriculum covers subjects such as spreadsheets, computer applications, word processing, and business correspondence. The 60-credit program can be completed in two years. Courses are available entirely online to accommodate working professionals. In-district students pay lower tuition rates.

Applicants must submit their high school transcripts (or the GED equivalent). The college also has a number of dual-credit and high school programs that help secondary students earn credit toward a college degree. Palo Alto College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

7

Minnesota West Community and Technical College

Granite Falls, MN Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 46%

Minnesota West Community and Technical College offers an online administrative assistant degree that prepares graduates to manage and coordinate day-to-day office operations. The program emphasizes word processing and data entry, business communications, and office management.

This online administrative assistant associate degree requires 60 credits and takes two years to complete. The curriculum covers major-specific courses as well as general education requirements like English composition and humanities classes. Major courses include spreadsheet concepts and applications, presentation graphics, and office accounting.

Applicants must complete an online application and submit high school transcripts (or the GED equivalent). If admitted, students receive a letter detailing steps for registration and taking the ACCUPLACER test. Minnesota West Community and Technical College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

8

Bismarck State College

Bismarck, ND Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 50%

Bismarck State College provides an online administrative assistant degree that prepares learners for entry-level secretary or office assistant positions. Graduates can find employment in many fields, including education, retail, and healthcare. Students have the option to follow a general track or choose a specialized legal or medical track.

Students who complete the 60-credit, two-year program earn an associate in applied science degree, while those who complete the 30-credit, one-year program earn a program certificate. The curriculum covers the latest computer technologies and software applications used in office settings. Courses are available entirely online.

Applicants must submit high school transcripts (or the GED equivalent), as well as placement test scores. Students must also have access to the Microsoft Office suite. Bismarck State College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

9

Northeast State Community College

Blountville, TN Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 29%

Northeast State Community College offers an associate degree in administrative professional technology with a business office concentration. The program develops proficiencies in software applications, critical thinking, office procedures, and office management. Graduates are prepared to take Microsoft Office Specialist certification exams. Students can take many of their required courses online.

This 60-credit degree can be completed in two years. Courses include records management, business communications, spreadsheet applications, and advanced word processing.

The college also participates in the Tennessee Transfer Pathway program, which facilitates the transfer of community college credits to schools in the University of Tennessee System. Northeast State Community College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

10

Minnesota State College Southeast

Winona, MN Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 41%

Minnesota State College Southeast offers an online administrative assistant associate of applied science degree that helps students build expertise in office procedures, such as word processing, using spreadsheets, and desktop publishing.

This two-year degree requires foundational courses in the humanities and sciences and major-specific courses. Major courses include database concepts and applications, principles of bookkeeping, integrated office skills, and word processing applications. Students also complete an internship in an office setting.

Applicants must submit high school transcripts and take the ACCUPLACER exam. The college has transfer articulation agreements with many colleges and universities. Minnesota State College Southeast is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

What Can I Expect From an Online Administrative Assistant Associate Program?

Core curricula center around the skills students need to excel in an office environment.

Students with a solid foundation in grammar and writing, strong communication skills, and innate organizational abilities are well prepared for a role as an administrative assistant.

Core curricula center around the skills and knowledge students need to excel in an office environment. These include the ability to use various computer software programs, manage records, and follow best practices associated with business communication processes.

Because this field is so broad, some programs offer specialized concentrations that provide classes geared toward a specific area. Learning this type of specialized knowledge is particularly important in the following industries and should be a strong consideration for those leaning towards a career in these fields.

Concentration Description
Legal Administrative Assistant Those interested in supporting the daily operations of a law office will find a legal concentration emphasizes important skills required to excel in this environment. Students come away with an understanding of legal terminology and law office procedures. Possible coursework specific to this concentration includes business law and legal research classes.
Medical Administrative Assistant An administrative assistant associate degree with a medical concentration prepares students to work in hospitals and medical offices. Developing an understanding of medical terminology, coding, and record transcription prepares graduates to succeed in this field.

Most associate degrees require about 60 credits of coursework, which can be completed in two years of full-time study. Some online administrative assistant associate programs offer accelerated options that reduce the time to completion. For those interested in specific concentrations, such as legal administration, an internship may be required; this requirement could extend the graduation timeline.

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

Though coursework varies by concentration, all online administrative assistant associate programs cover the core essentials and technical skills necessary for this role. Curricula cover topics like basic bookkeeping; database management; and computer software instruction related to word processing, spreadsheets, and presentations. The following five classes represent coursework typically found in this type of program.

Principles of Accounting

This course introduces students to basic accounting principles, such as elements in a financial accounting statement, auditing and reconciliation, interest calculations, and the fundamentals in payroll processing. Students who successfully complete this course gain an understanding of how to manage budgets and record/evaluate assets and liabilities.

Records Management

Learning the fundamental skill sets required to create, maintain, and protect records makes up the majority of this class. Key topics include record retention guidelines; protecting digital and hard file storage; creating and updating procedures and policies; establishing distribution systems; and updating and maintaining client, inventory, and order databases.

Business Computer Software

This course focuses on computer programs commonly used in today's office environment, such as Microsoft Office Suite. Students create presentations using PowerPoint, build a spreadsheet database with Excel, and use advanced formatting features found in Word. Additional instruction involves creating tables, forms, and reports, as well as maintaining and querying databases using Microsoft Access.

Desktop Publishing

Students learn desktop publishing essentials that can be carried out with publishing software such as Adobe and MS Publisher. The class covers the best formatting and design principles for business cards, brochures, newsletters, and other types of media. By the end of the course, participants can create professional-quality publications.

Administrative Office Procedures

This course emphasizes the skills required to successfully provide assistance to office staff and executives. Fundamentals include travel planning, scheduling appointments, telephone etiquette, and best practices in business correspondence. Lessons in communication, time management, and organization teach participants the knowledge administrative assistants require to excel.

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What Can I Do With an Online Administrative Assistant Associate Degree?

Because these professionals work in just about every industry, an administrative assistant associate degree leads to varied opportunities. Students can choose from a career in finance, medicine, law, government, or just about any other industry depending on their abilities and desire.

According to the BLS, administrative assistants earn a median annual wage of $39,850, while the top 10% of earners make more than $65,510 a year. Many factors influence a worker's salary, including their professional experience and field. Learn more about administrative assistant careers and see where an administrative assistant associate degree can take you.

Administrative Assistant and Secretary

Administrative assistants work in varying roles depending on their industry. Common responsibilities include answering and transferring phone calls, preparing business communications, scheduling appointments and travel, and creating and maintaining various databases. Some professionals in this position also find themselves performing basic bookkeeping and payroll functions.

Financial Clerk

Financial clerks work for several different industries, including banking, insurance, and healthcare assistance services. Depending on the organization, typical duties may involve carrying out financial transactions (such as calculating invoices), reviewing a client's credit history, and processing insurance applications. This role usually entails some form of customer service and support.

Receptionist

Receptionists serve as the first contact for customers entering a business; their ability to make a positive first impression can be very important to an organization's overall success. In addition to a strong role in customer service, other administrative tasks include answering phones, responding to emails, maintaining the office supply inventory, and keeping appointment calendars.

Law Administrative Assistant

These professionals usually work in law offices under the direction of paralegals or attorneys. In addition to general administrative duties, they play a key role as litigation assistants and provide support in areas of correspondence, research, and preparing and filing court documents. Professionals in this field can expect to earn higher salaries than administrative assistants in other roles. According to the BLS, the median annual salary for a legal administrative assistant is $47,300 — about $7,000 more than the typical administrative assistant.

Medical Administrative Assistant

Medical administrative assistants typically assist physicians, nurses, and other staff at hospitals, clinics, or private medical practices. Typical responsibilities include scheduling appointments, billing patients and insurance companies, and maintaining charts and reports.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Administrative Assistant Associate Programs

How much does an administrative assistant make with an associate degree?

An administrative assistant's annual salary varies depending on their location, industry, experience, and education. For instance, medical administrative assistants earn an average annual salary of $38,090, while legal administrative assistants earn $50,900.

Is an administrative assistant associate degree worth it?

Administrative assistants in the fields of medicine, law, or finance usually require a postsecondary education. Workers who hold an administrative assistant associate degree may also qualify for higher-level positions, such as an executive secretary. An associate program teaches you core skills that appeal to potential employers in a variety of industries.

Can you be an administrative assistant without a degree?

Depending on your target job/industry, you may not need an administrative assistant degree. Entry-level positions such as receptionist or general office clerk usually do not require a degree. However, candidates applying for advanced positions, or those in industries requiring specific skills and knowledge, may find that employers prefer applicants with an associate or bachelor's degree.

Is administrative assistant a stressful job?

In most cases, this role is not considered to be particularly high stress. However, administrative assistants work in just about every industry — some office environments are tremendously uplifting while others can feel draining and depleting. For this reason, consider your initial interview an opportunity to get to know who you might be working for, just as they are getting to know you.

What can I do with an administrative assistant associate degree?

An administrative assistant associate degree can provide entry into many different business settings. Potential roles include receptionist, secretary, customer service representative, and administrative assistant in legal, medical, financial, and government institutions.