Administrative assistants perform a wide range of responsibilities. They coordinate with various stakeholders of the company and ensure the delivery of the exact information to the right recipients. Their role in the organization has an impact on overall efficiency. Becoming one is easy, especially now that you can find the best online administrative assistant associate degree by searching among colleges and universities that offer this course.
The online administrative assistant associate degree course can be your springboard to a business administration career as it touches upon accounting and finance, management, including administrative office procedures. This program costs less than a bachelor’s degree and can be completed in just two years.
This guide will discuss what makes a program the best online administrative assistant associate degree. Students will learn the cost, requirements, and other factors to expect from a typical program. They will also know the differences between taking an online degree and attending physical classes for this particular field of study.
There are administrative assistant associate programs offered 100% online and there are hybrids. Similar to a typical associate degree, an online degree often requires students to accomplish 60 units of coursework, which can be completed in two years. These programs have different names or variants given that the competencies learned are diverse and every industry has its particular set of job specifications. The online degree programs learners can take include the following:
Besides these, there are also industry-specific degrees like legal or medical administrative assistant associate programs. These programs carry courses relating to the industry, say, medical subjects for medical administrative assistant programs and legal research and criminology for legal ones.
As far as which type of administrative assistant associate program is the most popular is concerned, a number (34%) of executive and administrative assistants took a business-related degree, followed by secretarial and administrative science (9%), and accounting (6%) (Zippia, 2021).
Source: Zippia 2021
COVID-19 changed the norm of education, with many post-secondary institutions shifting to online education at the height of the pandemic. However, even prior to the outbreak, 55% of employers already perceive online and physical degrees as similar in quality (Gallagher, 2019). With the prominence of distance learning and the general acceptance of remote work, the distinction between the two will be blurred even further.
Furthermore, 64% of job postings request at least one durable skill (also known as soft skill) from applicants (America Succeeds, 2021). Online degree programs for aspiring administrative assistants happen to focus on such skills. In fact, entire courses are devoted to business communications, leadership, management, and the like. This provides degree holders with an outright advantage when applying for jobs.
Source: America Succeeds 2021
Online degrees are generally recognized across the globe, especially if earned from a prestigious college or university. After all, COVID-19 caused a seismic shift in the global education landscape, as online programs became the new norm. Online administrative assistant associate degrees take this a step further since they have courses on leadership and communications. In the United States alone, over 52 million job postings demand these skills (America Succeeds, 2021). Imagine how much more options degree-holders would have if they explore the international market.
Online and traditional administrative assistant associate degrees bear a lot of similarities. For one, the curricula of online programs are usually identical to those used by their on-ground counterparts, surrounding core courses with general knowledge subjects like math and communications. Both types of degrees also have the same projected learning outcomes and career opportunities.
The similarities between the two stem from the lack of courses that require lab work or immersive fieldwork. As such, lessons can be rolled out seamlessly regardless of medium. So everything that happens in a classroom such as lectures, educational videos, and exams can be replicated digitally through a school’s learning management systems (LMS). And many of these institutions leverage some of the best LMS for schools.
However, despite all the similarities, there are marked differences between the two types of programs:
Online administrative assistant associate degrees are often cheaper even if the indicated tuition fee is slightly higher. After all, online students do not have to deal with rent and elevated expenses on transport, food, and miscellaneous school fees. Online degrees, however, lead to raised utility expenses due to the increased use of computers and other study-related amenities, but the costs are cheaper than having to pay for the expenditures of on-ground learners.
Since online administrative assistant associate degrees mirror the curricula of traditional ones, the learning outcomes are the same for both. Moreover, the prevalence of distance learning in today’s education landscape has made online degrees more acceptable in the professional realm. Plus, the career opportunities for those with this degree are soaring. For instance, if we go by the job outlook of administrative assistants, data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reveal that medical administrative assistants enjoy job growth of 10% from 2019 until 2029.
The cost of administrative assistant associate degrees may vary wildly. Some institutions offer separate charges for online programs while others carry in-state, out-of-state, and sometimes even international fees. These fees are taken as contributions to the local economy where the school is located. Thankfully, a lot of schools extend their financial aid programs to online students. However, it is wise to plan your finances before enrollment.
As far as the actual fees are concerned, the average price of online programs with separate/independent charges falls around $164.33 per credit, translating to $9,860 for an entire program (60 credits). In-state charges rack up an average of $160 per credit while the average rate for out-of-state fees is $369.8, which means an entire degree would roughly cost $9,600 for in-state students and $22,188 for those out of state.
Compared to online associate degrees, online administrative assistant diploma programs are much cheaper, with a range of $1,000 to $3,000 in total fees, and can be completed in less than a year (CostHelper Education, 2021). However, associate programs impart a more expansive knowledge base, lead to a wider job spectrum, and can be leveraged for further studies.
Traditional administrative assistant associate programs, on the other hand, appear to be within the same range as online degrees from big-named institutions, with a cost of $8,630 for residents, $10,854 for non-residents, and $20,058 for international students. These figures, however, do not include fees like rent, transport, books, equipment, food, institutional costs, and other miscellaneous expenses. With all costs factored in, traditional administrative assistant associate programs are typically more expensive than their digital counterparts.
As a whole, inclusive of online and certificate programs, the average tuition fees of undergraduate administrative assistant programs are $4,157 for residents and $9,161 for out-of-state learners (College Tuition Compare, 2020). Meanwhile, graduate programs cost $8,688 in-state and $12,726 out-of-state.
An online administrative assistant degree is certainly worth it. The variety of skills a student learns, from clerical work to accounting principles, can land them a job in pretty much any industry. Their career path is also clear-cut, as administrative assistants can eventually become executive assistants, office administrators, office managers, and project managers.
The same can be said for holders of industry-specific administrative assistant degrees. In fact, medical administrative assistants have been proven to foster efficiency in the workplace, which is why the position is currently in demand.
This is echoed in “Implementing Resident Team Assistant Programs at Academic Medical Centers: Lessons Learned” published in the Journal of Graduate Medical Education. According to the researchers, the employment of resident assistants has “positively impacted the administrative task burden and job satisfaction of the residents while maintaining high acceptability from the hospital staff, patients, families, and community pediatricians. They have been considerably feasible in terms of costs and effort by the institutions (Takei et al., 2020).”
Source: College Tuition Compare 2021
The requirements of online degrees tend to vary by institution. Some barely have any while others are similar to traditional degrees. But in a lot of cases, the requirements for online administrative assistant associate degrees are fewer than traditional ones.
In many cases, applicants will have to submit their transcript of grades and a high school diploma or its GED equivalent, but there are also institutions, like some community colleges, that forego those and focus on performance requirements. To be safe, it is better to have a copy of the transcript and diploma beforehand in case they are needed. Applicants can also submit letters of recommendation written by former teachers and/or employers. A resume might be required for applicants who have held jobs previously.
In addition, applicants could need to demonstrate their proficiency through one or a combination of tests.
Besides U.S. territories, countries that predominantly use the English language might be exempted from submitting English proficiency scores. In this scenario, the school will evaluate an applicant’s English and reading proficiency through their transcript.
Should students wish to pursue a bachelor’s degree later in the same institution, they need not resubmit the aforesaid requirements in most cases. They can also leverage the credits they earned during their associate program so that they do not need to retake the same classes as they take up a bachelor’s degree. It is a likely outcome considering that a slight majority (27%) of executive assistants and administrative assistants hold bachelor’s degrees (Zippia, 2021).
Students looking to become administrative assistants must possess or hone a certain set of skills. These enable them to perform their coursework with ease as well as become competitive in the industry as they enter the workforce. Some examples include:
A student should have the necessary equipment to be able to take online classes. After all, a lot of institutions leverage some of the best LMS for schools, and these platforms may require fairly new computers, updated operating systems, and high-speed internet. These requirements include:
Source: Zippia 2021
Administrative assistants own a wide range of competencies, and this is reflected in the roster of online degree courses offered by most schools. Some programs have a more in-depth approach to certain courses but the types of subjects taken are often similar. So what exactly are these courses?
Besides the aforesaid courses, there are other major subjects that will be taken up should a student enroll in an industry-specific administrative assistant program. For instance, legal administrative assistant degrees have basic law courses while medical administrative assistant degrees carry medical subjects.
Upon mastering the courses, learners can apply their skills in a wide variety of industries, including high-paying ones. An ideal landing spot for graduates is to become an executive secretary, with an annual wage of $63,110, or a legal administrative assistant ($48,980), but similar positions in other industries also pay well.
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021
While a lot of post-secondary institutions offer online administrative assistant associate degrees, there are programs that cater to the specific needs of certain learners, from accessibility to the financial requirements and support provided. Meeting one’s personal standards certainly enhances the learning experience.
Mobility is currently a big deal given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, prompting the need for distance learning, especially for learners who reside in areas that were hit hard. Thankfully, purely online administrative assistant associate degrees are widely available, as are administrative assistant certificate programs. There are also institutions that offer hybrid degrees to those who prefer to have a mix of online and classroom exercises. The lessons typically do not require immersive labwork or fieldwork so taking the program online does not compromise learning.
A lot of online administrative assistant programs are open to international students while the degrees awarded are recognized internationally. International applicants, however, should keep in mind that they need to take and pass standardized tests that ascertain their proficiency in the language of instruction. For instance, applicants should score at least 20/30 in the TOEFL reading exam.
Some institutions might not reflect additional charges on top of their listed tuition fees nor, for those that charge high rates, immediately provide a breakdown of costs. It is important to note that online education has its own set of expenses. For instance, charges are added to accommodate teachers and to train them for online instruction. Technical support also merits expenses. Furthermore, some students might need to purchase equipment, like a computer or a headset, to make distance learning possible. In any case, having extra cash ready affords learners more flexibility.
The work of administrative assistants is broad and may require certain skills per industry, which is why there are industry-specific online administrative assistant associate programs that include the said competencies. Ideally, applicants should determine the industry that they would like to work in prior to applying so that they would end up with a program that is best suited to their goals.
In addition, online administrative assistant associate programs come in many names, so taking note of the aforementioned possible names of the degree could save you a lot of time and eliminate confusion.
Taking up an online administrative assistant associate degree is, without question, a viable decision. In terms of the learning experience, an online associate program is cheaper and shorter to complete than a bachelor’s degree. It also mirrors the curricula of on-ground administrative assistant associate programs, thus learning is not compromised by proximity. Furthermore, an online degree is taken seriously by employers and is recognized globally.
Finding a job will not be too big a concern either. After all, most corporations, regardless of industry, require administrative assistants, secretaries, and clerks, so your range of options is perpetually expansive. While the starting salaries of some jobs might be modest, office assistants can later become supervisors, executive assistants, and even project managers, which entail higher wages. This means learners have a bright future ahead of them when they are awarded their degrees or certifications.
In case you want to know more about associate programs and their advantages, you can read this guide on associate degrees. It tackles the different types, costs, and admission requirements, among others.