There are nearly 1.5 million first-line supervisors of office and administrative support workers in the United States. Administrators are needed in all types of offices that have staffs large enough to warrant a manager. The federal government is a major employer of office administrators. Other job opportunities are found in private companies with large clerical staffs, such as banks, telecommunications companies, wholesalers, retail establishments, business service firms, health care facilities, schools, and insurance companies.
To break into this career, you should contact the personnel offices of individual firms directly. This is especially appropriate if you have previous clerical experience. College career services offices or other job placement offices may also know of openings. You can also locate jobs through help wanted advertisements. Another option is to sign up with a temporary employment service. Working as a "temp" provides the advantage of getting a firsthand look at a variety of office settings and making many contacts.
Often, a firm will recruit office administrators from within its own clerical staff. A clerk with potential supervisory abilities may be given periodic supervisory responsibilities. Later, when an opening occurs for an administrator, that person may be promoted to a full-time position.
Skilled administrators may be promoted to group manager positions. Promotions, however, often depend on the individual's level of education and other appropriate training, such as training in the company's computer system. Firms usually encourage their employees to pursue further education and may even pay for some tuition costs. Supervisory and management skills can be obtained through company training or community colleges and local vocational schools.
Some companies will prepare office clerks for advancement to administrative positions by having them work in several company departments. This broad experience allows the administrator to better coordinate numerous activities and make more knowledgeable decisions.
Tips for Entry
In school, volunteer to take on clerical or bookkeeping tasks either with a school club or in the school office.
After high school, consider a work-study program that combines earning your college or associate's degree and on-the-job training with a local business.
Once you have some clerical experience, find an entry-level job as an administrative assistant or similar position either through contacting the personnel offices of individual firms, checking out your college career services office, reading the help wanted ads, or applying to a temporary ("temp") employment service.