Office leadership comes in many forms. While top executives make decisions that steer the company, office administrators are responsible for the day-to-day responsibilities of a well-functioning office. Earning a degree in office administration can be the first step towards joining the ranks of these dedicated administrative workers.
Office administration degree programs help secretaries, administrative professionals, and office managers learn the unique skill sets needed to excel at their jobs. Drawing on their knowledge of the inner workings of corporate and small office environments, these key team members perform a wide range of tasks that keep offices and workplaces running smoothly. Common tasks performed by these professionals include keeping the company calendar or booking appointments, performing day-to-day responsibilities, and data entry.
Generally speaking, an office administration degree is the best way to get started in this field. While entry-level jobs may not require a college degree, many upper level positions require either a two-year degree or several years of experience. Online degrees in office administration provide basic knowledge and an introduction to the technical skills required to succeed in this field. Students who pursue an office administration degree online can expect to take courses in computers and data entry, database management, accounting, and English.
While anybody can pursue online degrees in office administration, this field is geared toward individuals with a high level of technical skill and organization. Extremely motivated individuals will also have a leg up since office administration is often fast-paced. Ideal candidates should also possess a strong eye for detail and the ability to make smart decisions quickly.
Choosing the Right Degree
Although a formal education isn't always required to work in an office setting, a thorough knowledge of various software programs and business acumen is necessary to thrive in an office administration or office management role. While many skills can be learned on the job, online office management degree programs help students gain a solid foundation in the concepts and programs they'll be using in the workplace. Depending on the type of position they hope to gain, students can choose from several different degree options. This chart includes top degree options for office administrators, along with the average length completion and several popular careers for each:
Length of Completion
Certificate in Office Administration
Certificate programs typically take 1-2 years to complete. These programs are often geared toward professionals already working in a related industry.
Financial Clerk; Bookkeeping, Accounting, or Auditing Clerk; Customer Service Representative; Receptionist; Secretary; Administrative Assistant; General Office Clerk
Associate in Office Administration
These programs typically take two years of full-time study to complete.
Financial Clerk; Bookkeeping, Accounting, or Auditing Clerk; Secretary; Administrative Assistant; General Office Clerk
Bachelor's in Office Administration
These programs typically require four years of full-time study to complete.
Secretary, Administrative Assistant, Administrative Services Manager
Work experience and a bachelor's degree is often required for most high-level administrative positions. Large medical offices, which must comply with a wide range of regulations surrounding billing and patient privacy, are likely to look for administrators with bachelor's degrees. Database management and document processing are important higher-level skills for these professionals, who may hold the title of office manager. At the top of the field, master's degree training may be required.
What to Expect in an Office Administration Program
Students who pursue online degrees in office administration should expect a well-rounded education in a wide range of disciplines. Due to advances in technology and our increased reliance on computers, office jobs have become more technical by nature, thus requiring more training for office workers.
Some degree programs may offer students the chance to specialize in one field or discipline. Popular specializations include:
- Legal Office
- Medical Office
- Office Management
- Office Software Specialization
If students are open to working in a wide range of office settings, choosing a specialization may not be necessary. However, those who want to work in a certain type of office (e.g. medical office or legal office) may be better off pursuing a specialized degree.
No matter what type of office administration degree a student chooses, they'll be exposed to a similar set of core courses as the basis of their curriculum. Courses commonly found in these programs include:
- Business Math
- Business English
- Business Ethics
- Computerized Accounting
- Word Processing
- Office Management
Depending on the type of degree and career they are pursuing, office administration students can spend anywhere from one to four years in school. If one hopes to work as a receptionist or entry-level secretary, for example, some on-the-job experience and a certificate may be enough to land the job. However, those who want to work in management will likely want to pursue an associate or bachelor's degree.
Benefits of an Online Degree Program
One reason why office administrators are so valued is their specialized knowledge of office technology. Increasingly, businesses both small and large are turning to specialized software programs to track employee benefits and payroll, manage appointments or financial accounts, and track and store data. Office administrators must be familiar with this technology as they often purchase, install, and use such programs on a daily basis.
Online office administration degrees provide an excellent way for students to familiarize themselves with computer programs and web-based training technology, a skill often appreciated by hiring managers. Students in an online program will learn how to create a proper business email, communicate with their peers and professors in a virtual setting, and submit assignments electronically. Since employers prefer to hire candidates with computer know-how, earning an online degree -- and mastering the ins and outs of modern office communication along the way -- might give students a leg up in the job market.
Thanks to the flexibility of online degree programs, students already working full-time or raising a family can complete their studies during evenings or weekends. Many online degrees offer nonstop access to materials, lectures, and homework assignments as well, which makes it easy for students to fit school in around their busy schedules.
Careers in Office Administration
Although it's easy to assume office administration degrees only lead to secretary or receptionist positions, there are actually quite a few careers that can begin with a degree in this field. The following table highlights some of the most popular options, with employment projections and recent wage figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:
Expected Job Growth
(2014 - 2024)
|Education Administrators, Preschool and Childcare Center/Program||48,530||$52,150||10.6%|
|Education Administrators, Postsecondary||138,430||$105,770||10%|
|Office and Administrative Support Workers, All Other||216,650||$36,040||9.2%|
|Education Administrators, Elementary and Secondary School||242,970||$95,390||7.8%|
|Supervisors of Office and Administrative Support Workers||1,443,150||$57,890||3.4%|
|First-Line Supervisors of Office and Administrative Support Workers||1,443,150||$57,890||3.4%|
As you can see, office administration degrees can lead to entry-level jobs all the way up to management positions. The type of degree one should pursue really depends on their personal abilities and individual career goals. Either way, an online degree in office administration is a great way to get started.
To learn more about online degrees in office administration and where they could take your career, or for specific program information, check out any of the schools listed below.
Administrative Services Managers, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/administrative-services-managers.htm
Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerks, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/office-and-administrative-support/bookkeeping-accounting-and-auditing-clerks.htm
Customer Service Representatives, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/office-and-administrative-support/customer-service-representatives.htm
Financial Clerks, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/office-and-administrative-support/financial-clerks.htm
General Office Clerks, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/office-and-administrative-support/general-office-clerks.htm
Receptionists, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/office-and-administrative-support/receptionists.htm
Secretaries and Administrative Assistants, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/office-and-administrative-support/secretaries-and-administrative-assistants.htm
May 2014 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nat.htm