Share this page with family, friends, and colleagues.
Featured Post : Learn Web Design For Free at

  Back to Career Pathways

Career Pathway — Administrative Support Technology (AST)

  AST Competency Framework
  Search AST Related Resources

What is AST?

Administrative support technology reinforces the day-to-day operations of other organizations. The processes employed in this sector (e.g., general management, personnel administration, clerical activities, etc.) are often integral parts of the activities of establishments found in all sectors of the economy.

Who is an AST professional and what do they do?

Administrative support professionals perform clerical and administrative duties. They organize files, prepare documents, schedule appointments, and support other staff. Depending on the industry and job title, they may also be responsible for tasks such as customer service, word processing, record-keeping, billing, inventory, data entry, and purchasing.

To see a list of sample job responsibilities, click here.

Where are AST professionals employed?

Although secretaries and administrative assistants work in nearly every industry, many are employed in schools, hospitals, governments, and legal and medical offices.

Why AST?

The very nature of administrative roles means that you'll be tasked with a wide range of daily responsibilities. This will build a robust skillset, making you an adaptable, resourceful, well-rounded asset to any organization.

Career trajectory!
Because administrative professionals work in a vast array of industries and within numerous departments in an organization, they can be promoted to a variety of positions. Exploring and refining their skills may lead to a more narrowly defined specialty or proficiency.

Here are some typical career paths for Administrative Assistants:


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage in May 2014 for a secretary/administrative assistant was $36,500 per year ($17.55 per hour).

How do I become an AST professional?

Education and Certification
To qualify at a junior or entry level, typically only a high school graduation is required. However, in some industries, such as legal work and healthcare, more extensive education and/or experience may be a prerequisite.

Because administrative positions usually require the use of software applications such as word processing, spreadsheets, and databases, demonstrative experience using such software may also be a requirement. More advanced administrative positions, such as executive secretaries, may require several years of work-related experience and college experience or degrees.

Although not usually required, certification can be an added incentive to demonstrate competency, dedication to the profession, and to make you more desirable to employers. The International Association of Administrative Professionals offers the Certified Administrative Professional (CAP) certification for candidates with a minimum of 2 to 4 years of administrative work experience, depending on their level of education. They must pass an examination to be certified.

What will I learn?
Administrative professionals can often learn needed skills in a matter of weeks in on-the-job training. Expect to be educated on procedures, document preparation, needed software, and industry terminology and practices.

Is a career in AST right for me?

A career in AST is right for you if you:
  • Have a strong sense of integrity. Administrative professionals often must handle sensitive or classified information and must be trusted to handle it confidentially.
  • Possess exceptional interpersonal and communication skills due to regular interaction with clients, customers, or staff through the telephone, face-to-face, or via email correspondence.
  • Are highly organized with strong attention to detail in order to help run an office efficiently and effectively.
  • Enjoy writing and do it well. Administrative professionals are often tasked with composing memos and other forms of written communication for managers, employees, and customers that must be grammatically correct, accurate, and professional in tone.

What are some typical AST job titles?

Executive Assistant, Administrative Assistant, Office Manager, Front Desk Coordinator, Information Processing Specialist, Data Entry Specialist, Office Support Technician, Customer Service Representative

For more detailed job descriptions, click here.

Get started now... Create your MyHigherEd account!

Information sources:

Save 70% on your class textbooks at