18 Sep 2020

How to become an office administrator? A complete guide to being qualified

Variations of job title:

Office administrator, clerical officer, administrative assistant.

What does an office administrator do?

The primary role of an office administrator is to provide administrative support to offices or specific departments to help a company’s operation run smoothly and efficiently.

Duties as an office administrator may include:

• Updating computer records or customer management systems

• Organising meetings and events

• Providing email and phone support to clients

• Data entry

• Clerical duties such as invoicing, filing, scanning or printing documents

• Arranging travel for staff

What is the average salary of an office administrator in Ireland?

€26,079 - €27,520 per year.

Sources: Glassdoor.com, Payscale.com.

What are the requirements to become an office administrator?

Experience: Depending on the job and the level of responsibilities included, employers typically require you to have anywhere from 6 months to 2 years’ administrative experience.

Education: As well as having 6 - 24 months of work experience, sometimes hiring companies will also require candidates to have completed the Leaving Certificate or equivalent exams, and for more senior positions, an undergraduate degree. More often than not, employers will prefer candidates having actual work experience rather than a specific level of education.

Key skills required for the job include:

• Excellent written and verbal communication skills

• Excellent computer skills

• Strong interpersonal and client facing skills

• Excellent organisational skills and attention to detail

• Ability to work on own initiative and also as part of a team

• Attention to detail and accuracy

• Ability to work in a fast-paced environment

• Professional manner and approach

• Proficient in Microsoft Office (Outlook, Excel, Word, Etc,.)

How to become an office administrator?

If you do not have any previous office administration experience there are a number of different strategies that will help you land a job in this profession.

This will involve a combination of developing your skills to perform the duties as an office administrator and building your work experience so you can meet the requirements to apply for an office administration position.

1. Developing your skills

Firstly you will need to gain the necessary skills required for the position of office administrator.

There are a number of administration and office skill courses, many of which are online, that you can enrol in.

Here are just a few options:

Free options to upskill

Further Education and Training (FET) courses

FET offers a wide range of free courses for anyone over 16 who is looking to learn new skills or build upon their existing skills in order to find a job. The FET courses are provided through the Education and Training Board (ETB) network.

To become qualified as an administrator, we recommend starting with the European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL) course. The ECDL certificate is one of the most globally recognised certifications for office based computer skills, and it will greatly help you qualify for a wide range of administrative job opportunities. Get started here.

eCollege by SOLAS

SOLAS is the state agency for further education and training in Ireland, giving learners the opportunity to succeed in the workforce. Since March 2020, they have made their online training platform eCollege completely free. There is a wide range of training courses available including the ECDL course. More information can be found here.

National Learning Network (NLN)

The National Learning Network provides training and support to anyone struggling to find a job. Regardless of your circumstances the National Learning Network can help you. Currently, NLN offers over 70 different training programmes, which include courses in computer and business skills. All courses provided by the NLN are free and you’re able to keep your benefits. A small lunch allowance is also given to students and you may be entitled to travel allowance. Visit the NLN's website for all the details.

Springboard+ Courses

Springboard+ are currently offering 11,000+ free or subsidised places on courses. Upon completion of these courses, you will be awarded a certificate, undergraduate or postgraduate degree. The courses are co-funded by the Irish Government and the EU social fund, so take full advantage! More information can be found here.

Education and Training Boards (ETB’S)

Further education and training courses are provided by ETB’s. As there is an education and training board for every county in Ireland, we recommend reaching out to your local training centre and see if they have any administrative training opportunities. ETB’s offer a wide range of traineeship programmes and specific skills training, with a number of courses being offered free of charge. More information can be found here.

Skillnet Ireland

Skillnet Ireland funds a number of upskilling courses for unemployed people in Ireland, helping job seekers acquire the necessary skills to join the workforce. Learn more on their website.

Intreo - for jobseekers

If you’re currently receiving jobseeker's payment, there are a number of short term courses that you’ll qualify for which are provided by Intreo. Get in touch with your local branch today.

Local employment centres/Job clubs

Research and discover what local employment services or job clubs are located in your area as they may have training opportunities available. Many job clubs are active on social media so try searching for them on Facebook or Twitter to see what they have to offer.

Paid training options

Before applying for a paid course, enquire first with the course provider and explain to them what your goals are. They can then direct you to the most appropriate learning programme.

When choosing between the below-paid options we recommend choosing a course that awards a QQI certificate. QQI is Ireland’s official awarding body so any course that awards a QQI certificate will be nationally and internationally recognised.

Additional resource for courses

We recommend visiting Adult Education Ireland’s website as they have a great range of information covering professional and certified courses in Ireland.


2. Building your work experience

As mentioned earlier, employers tend to favour work experience over education when it comes to hiring candidates for office administration roles. Along with building the necessary skills, it's important to try to add any form of relevant work experience to your CV.

Volunteering

While you’re upskilling, it's worth trying to become a volunteer to gain valuable work experience. Get in touch with local charities to see if they have any volunteer opportunities available. Even if there are no administrative roles available, just get your foot in the door. By offering your time to a charity, you will meet more people which will open up new opportunities, while adding experience to your CV.

Internships

Searching for internship opportunities is another great way to get work experience on your CV.

Apprenticeships

Business administration apprenticeships do pop up from time to time so it’s definitely worth searching online to see what’s available at the moment.

Entry level roles

After you have completed an ECDL course or similar, you will qualify for entry level administration roles. We recommend searching online continuously for companies who are hiring for administrative roles that require a minimum amount of work experience.

Working for free

Alternatively, you could offer to work at a company for free. Even offering to do the most basic administrative tasks for a few hours a week will build up your work experience, which will greatly help your job search. If you’ve ever come across Gary Vee, he preaches using a ‘DM’ strategy. That is, directly messaging people you would like to work for on social media - and telling them what you can provide, and that you’re willing to work for free.

Getting the job - with little to no work experience

When you are ready to begin applying for office administration jobs after completing the necessary training and hopefully gaining some work experience, we highly recommend checking out our CV and Cover Letter guide, which includes templates and a script for every section.

Within the guide, there is information on how to show your transferable skills to potential employers when applying for jobs. A transferable skill is your specific knowledge which can be used across a number of different jobs. Showing your transferable skills correctly on your CV and Cover Letter will be essential to landing a job in a field where you have little work experience. Don’t worry - everything is covered in great detail here under Section 3.

Alternatively, check out our video guide here which covers the same information.

Career progression

With 2- 4 years’ experience under your belt as an administrator, you could begin to look at more senior roles. They may include:

• Office Manager | Average salary: €32,398 - €35,365 per year

• Senior Administrator | Average salary: €33,715 - €39,755 per year

• Executive Assistant | Average salary: €38,764 - €43,126 per year

Opportunities in other departments will also open up as you build your experience - such as payroll, accounting or IT. With additional training you could decide to specialise in an area such as finance, legal or medical administration.

Best of luck on your career journey!

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