Administration assistants are the indispensable and capable all-rounders that makes the business tick.
In a recent book called Linchpin, Seth Godin asks the aspirational reader one simple question – Are you indispensable? In many jobs this answer is often ‘No’ but not when it comes to the role of the admin assistant.
This is one of the most versatile and the most relied-upon roles in most companies.
As an admin assistant, you are the linchpin of the business, the person who holds all the threads and who ensures that everything gets done properly, by the right people, at the right time. It’s a challenging, interesting and dynamic job that puts you on the business front line.
The role of admin assistant can vary dependent on the type of company you work for, the size of the company, the expectations of the person who hired you, and your own personal preferences.
This is reflected in the huge variety of different admin assistant training courses that are available in South Africa. You can choose from courses that will teach you about maths and accounting, or you can choose from courses that will teach you about marketing and business administration. Or you can pick a course that ticks all those boxes because you want a job that will challenge every part of your brain.
This is what makes the admin assistant career path so interesting. One minute you could be elbow deep in numbers, sorting out some basic bookkeeping, and the next you could be working with marketing and public relations to ensure that the company has the right profile in the right markets.
Because the admin assistant role is so challenging and diverse, it’s also in very high demand. According to recent Career Junction research, published in November 2019, admin assistants are in very high demand right now.
As an admin assistant, the following talents and skills will really stand you in good stead:
- An understanding of technology – because you will be working with computers all day, every day, you will need to basic skills. You can learn these as you train but it’s a good idea to start building your skills in Microsoft Office software from the outset.
- Communication skills – a calm and patient nature is a definite prerequisite for this role. You’ll be dealing with people all day and you will often be the first person a visitor sees when they walk in the door.
- Organisational skills – time and life management skills are critical, not just for yourself but the people you manage. You need to have a good eye for detail, schedules, calendars and filing systems to stay on top of all the different parts of your job.
The average salary for an admin assistant is around R97k per year, according to PayScale.
Boost your skills while at school
A matric pass is not always essential if you want to become an admin assistant. Not all courses expect you to have Grade 12 in order to get started, but it’s a really good idea to finish matric as it gives you an edge when you start studying.
While you’re at school considering boosting your skills using the free Vodacom e-school portal or Top Dog. Both platforms provide you with free extra lessons in specific subjects, helping you to really expand your knowledge and address problem areas. If you’d like to use these platforms to prepare for the role of admin assistant, consider using it to brush up on your English and other languages, maths, computing, accounting, and life sciences.
Vodacom e-school does ask you to register first but the process is as simple as entering your name, a password of your choosing, and the one-time-pin that they send you. Then select your grade (you can change this at any time) and start learning. Read our comprehensive breakdown of the accountancy profession below to find out which role best suits you and your career aspirations and to help you choose the right subjects at school.
How to train to become an admin assistant
There are several different roads you can take to achieve your goal of becoming an admin assistant. The road you take will depend on your situation, your education, and the type of admin assistant you’d like to be. The list below will take you through the different institutions and how they approach the course and the career. This will help you to find the course that best suits your needs.
Education institution options for an admin assistant:
- ICB Office Administration Programme – An NQF L5, 18-month course that covers business and office administration, bookkeeping, business literacy, marketing management and public relations, business law and administrative practice, and cost and management accounting.
- College of Cape Town National N-Diploma: Management Assistant – N4-N6 certification that provides certification and requires 18 months of practical experience to receive the National N-Diploma. It covers communication, office practice, computer practice, public relations and information processing, among other courses and requires Grade 12 to apply.
- Uni College Executive Personal Assistant – endorsed by the Chartered Institute of Business Management, this course lasts for 12 months and teaches you general office admin functions, among others.
- Boston College City Campus Administrative Assistant – a one-year module that includes keyboarding, word processing, spreadsheets, general office practice, introduction to business accounting and practical bookkeeping. A Grade 10 certificate or National Certificate (vocational) L2 are required for entry.
- Leading Edge Office Administration Training Course – a two-day training course to provide you with a taster introduction to office administration or to enhance your skills if you’re already undertaking the role.
- Kumalo Green Professional Office Administration – a short course to help junior secretaries, office managers and administrators with additional skills and training to help grow their careers.
- University of Cape Town Executive Support Online Short Course – this 10-week course is entirely online and provides you with additional skills and training to either kickstart your admin assistant career or expand your existing skills so you can improve your career prospects.
- Rosebank College Higher Certificate in Office Administration – an entry-level qualification that develops admin and management support skills.
- Intec Public Administration Assistant Certificate – This is not an accredited NQF qualification and requires Grade 10 or equivalent to gain entry. The course lasts for 18 months and includes training in business administration, public administration and computing.