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Working as an Administrative Assistant [NOC 1241]

Job Description

Administrative assistants carry out office support tasks in order to keep organizations and their departments running smoothly.

As an administrative assistant, you perform the following duties:

  • Type letters, reports and other documents
  • Schedule and confirm appointments and meetings
  • Respond to telephone, in-person and email enquiries
  • Organize files and keep records
  • Establish and oversee office procedures
  • Prepare minutes of meetings
  • Arrange travel schedules and make reservations
  • Compile data, statistics and other information for reports
  • Prepare department budgets
  • Supervise and train other office support staff

Your duties vary depending on your level of responsibility and type of company you work for.

Sources: WorkBC Career Profile for Administrative Assistants and Career Cruising (Profile for Administrative Assistant)

Industry Overview

Future job prospects for administrative assistants are expected to be good.

Changes in technology have affected the duties of administrative assistants. Many employers now expect you to take on more complex tasks such as:

  • developing spreadsheets
  • drafting correspondence
  • supervising databases
  • updating websites
  • producing presentation materials

As a result, you will be in higher demand if you have a wider variety of computer skills.

There is good opportunity for flexible work arrangements. If you work with a placement agency (also known as a “temp” agency) you can work on short-term placements with private sector companies and government clients.

Job Outlook in BC

Administrative Assistants

Job Outlook for Administrative Assistants
Chart from WorkBC

The Employment Outlook for BC provides job openings projections for administrative assistants within these BC regions:

Region 2015-2025
Estimated Job Openings
2015-2025
Avg Annual
Employment Growth
Vancouver Island / Coast 2710 1.2%
Lower Mainland / Southwest 9340 1.1%
Thompson-Okanagan 2070 1.5%
Kootenay 580 1.2%
Cariboo 470 0.6%
North Coast & Nechako 200 0.2%
Northeast 350 1.4%

You can learn more about working as an administrative assistant in BC from:

Types of Employers

Administrative assistants work in offices in every kind of organization, including:

  • non-profit organizations
  • government agencies
  • universities, colleges and educational institutions
  • hospitals
  • banks
  • businesses of all types and size

You may also find employment through temporary staffing agencies in BC’s cities. These temporary jobs can lead to permanent employment.

Salary

The average salary for administrative assistants working in BC is $45,883. Your salary depends on experience, location, and employer.

In addition to a salary, most full-time administrative assistants receive health and dental benefits, paid sick days, and paid vacations.

In BC’s regions, administrative assistants can expect to make:

In BC’s regions, general office support workers can expect to make:

Hourly regional wages
Table from Job Bank Canada Wage Report

Working Hours

Most administrative assistants have regular hours. A 9-to-5, Monday to Friday workweek is most common.

Skills, Education, and Experience

Skills

  • Excellent organizational and time management skills
  • Ability to multi-task and prioritize jobs
  • Ability to communicate effectively
  • Excellent customer service and interpersonal skills
  • Good keyboarding and computer skills
  • Good attention to detail
  • An interest in working both independently and as part of a team in an office setting

Education and Experience

  • Completion of secondary school is usually required

Other training or requirements may include:

  • Completion of a one or two year college program for administrative assistants or secretaries
    or
  • Previous clerical experience

Experience using a wide range of computer programs and other office technology is also often required. Some education or training in accounting may also be useful for some positions.

Qualifications

This occupation is not regulated in British Columbia.

You do not require certification to work as an administrative assistant.

Finding Jobs

You’ll find job advertisements in local newspapers and electronic sources, as well as through professional associations.

Staffing agencies are a good source of temporary work that can also lead to permanent employment. Check local newspapers to find the names of local staffing agencies or look in the Yellow Pages and search for ‘Employment Agencies’

Local Newspapers

You can look at the Vancouver Sun & The Province at Vancouver Public Library for free. Check the job postings daily and the careers section in the Vancouver Sun on Wednesdays and Saturdays and in The Province on Sundays.

Job White Pages

  • Available online or in print at the Central Library
    NOTE: Access at VPL locations only

Online Job Postings

Professional Associations’ Career Resources

Identifying the Right Position

When you browse job advertisements, you’ll find a range of different job titles that are relevant.

For administrative assistants look for these related job titles:

  • Executive secretary
  • Secretary
  • Office administrative assistant
  • Office administrator

Creating a List of Potential Employers

You can use directories to produce lists of potential employers. Contact them directly to find out if they’re hiring.

  • Reference Canada
    Click on “Start Search” beside Canadian Businesses, then select the “Advanced Search” button.
    Select both “Keyword/SIC/NAICS” under Business Type and “City” under Geography.
    In the top search box enter “admin” and click LOOKUP.
    Select the appropriate headings.
    Lower down, select the Province, choose the cities, and click the “View Results” button.
    NOTE: You can access this database from a Library computer. If you are using a computer from outside the Library, you will need a Vancouver Public Library card to login to this database. After clicking on the database name, you will be asked to enter your library card number and PIN (usually last four digits of your telephone number).

Applying for a Job

In Canada, employers usually expect to receive a resume (curriculum vitae) and a cover letter that identifies the position you are applying for and summarizes your relevant experience.
Use the library catalogue to find books on writing resumes and cover letters specific to your industry.
To learn about applying for jobs in Canada, use the following pathfinders:

Getting Help from Industry Sources

Industry Associations

Associations for administrative assistants in BC and Canada can provide information and assistance. Registration and fees are required for membership.

Industry Journals

Search the Vancouver Public Library catalogue for journals related to your profession.