The Role of an AA Continually Changes

Julie Shenkman
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The role of the admin assistant has changed drastically in recent years, with still more changes expected. Today's administrative professional regularly spends less time on basic clerical tasks and more time managing other employees.

Admin assistants are taking on increasing levels of responsibility in the workplace. Many organizations allow admin assistants to have some financial responsibilities, such as approving office purchases. Some admins are also taking on leadership roles, heading up projects and supervising teams of other employees.

According to a report by the American Society of Administrative Professionals (ASAP), three factors are driving this evolution of the role of the admin assistant. The recession is perhaps the most obvious driver for change, as it left many organizations looking for ways to reduce staffing costs. Giving more responsibility to admin assistants has been seen by many employers as an inexpensive solution to the cuts they have been forced to make to other parts of the workforce.

Technology also allows an admin assistant to take on a greater range of roles than ever before. Today's admin assistant not only uses technology to prepare reports and manage schedules. Many of them are also responsible for responding to customer comments and questions on social media. Some organizations even rely on admin assistants to provide a certain level of technical support.

The third reason for the evolution of the role of the admin assistant is that employers are looking for flexibility. An admin assistant that has a wide range of skills is a great asset to the modern workplace. As an organization grows, the role of an admin assistant can evolve far away from the original job description, as the assistant takes on a greater range of projects.

The changes in the role of the admin assistant place additional demands on people who want to follow this career path. People looking for jobs in administration need strong technical skills, particularly in the use of the Microsoft Office suite, which 85 percent of admins surveyed by ASAP said they spend most of each day using. Management and leadership skills are also increasingly important for anyone who wants to become an administrative professional. Organizations such as ASAP can help admins develop their skills, gain new technical qualifications and progress in their careers. However, there is also a demand for admin assistants to have academic qualifications that were not required in the past; many employers now require at least an associate's degree for this kind of role.

Today's admin assistant can expect to take on far more responsibilities than a person working in this role in the past. While the extra duties can be stressful, many admin assistants enjoy the variety and challenges that their new roles present.

Photo courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at



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  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Steven maybe this is true. However, I remember about 20 years ago, the same thing was true and it wasn't because of the economy. The AA has always been viewed as the "go to" and "get it done" person even if it wasn't the AA's responsibility. Today the AA has to know even more - especially in the field of technology. Too bad the salary has not been keeping up with the amount of duties!

  • Steven Kinnear
    Steven Kinnear

    The primary reason for the expansion of an AA's responsibilities is that employers are too cheap to hire an office manager. They'd rather pay less and pile on more jobs for one person, just as HR professionals are now also responsible for payroll and OSHA, with no commensurate raise in pay.

  • Denise Schell
    Denise Schell

    This is an ever changing career and sounds very busy.

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