How to Become an Administrative Officer


To get into this profession, you typically need experience in the department that you will be overseeing, and you need to have management and leadership qualities.


Many employers will also require you to have post-secondary education related to the field in which you will be working, or in management, or both.


Fulfilling entrance requirements is a good start, but if you want to become an administrative officer, and want to succeed at it, you will also need to make sure this career aligns with your interest, skills, and personality traits.


Does the following describe you?


• You are able to take direction from supervisory and management staff

• You have leadership and management skills

• You are able to align with the core values and mission of your employer

• You are willing to put in extra working hours to finish tasks

• You enjoy compiling and organization information

• You enjoy having clear rules and methods for your work

• You have an interest and knowledge in the department in which you will be working

• You are interested in a career path that offers plenty of room for growth


Below we've provided detailed information on what you'll need to succeed in a career as an administrative officer. We've also included helpful information for this career, such as salary expectations, working conditions, a list of possible employer types, and much more!



Education Needed

The educational requirements tend to vary from employer to employer, and from department to department.


Employers commonly prefer however, to hire candidates for administrative officer jobs that have some form of post-secondary training (a certificate, diploma or degree) in a field that is relevant to their work.


Having education in a relevant field can either mean technical training that is related to the department in which the administrator will be working, or it could mean education that provides the aspiring administrator with management skills and leadership competencies.


Some employers may accept a few years of relevant work experience in place of post-secondary education. Ideally though, the candidate will have both.





Experience Needed to Get Into This Field

If you want to become an administrative officer, you are usually required to have work experience related to the department you will be overseeing. For example, administrative officers who are concerned with supply, inventory, and distribution should have work experience in receiving, warehousing, packaging, shipping, transportation, and related operations.


Work experience in a directly related field will often not be enough, as many candidates for administrative officer jobs will have these qualifications. Employers will want you to have managerial and leadership qualities. These qualities may be the result of an education in business administration or management, or they may be reflected in your current job, or previous jobs you’ve had.  



Skills Needed to Be Successful

In order to be effective as an administrative officer, you must have a specific skill set. Employers will likely have these skills, or slight variations of them, listed on their job postings. For example, you must be able to:


• Establish work priorities

• Ensure deadlines are met

• Ensure procedures are followed

• Ensure the core values of the organization are being demonstrated

• Review, evaluate and implement new administrative procedures

• Prepare periodic and special reports

• Prepare, or assist in the preparation of departmental budgets

• Demonstrate working knowledge of the general industry you operate within

• Demonstrate excellent working knowledge of the department you work in 

• Co-ordinate and plan for office services such as accommodation, relocation, and the acquisition of equipment and supplies



Characteristics & Traits Needed

In addition to education and experience, you'll also need certain personal traits and characteristics. These traits and characteristics can help you take satisfaction from your job, withstand the ups and downs of it, and can ultimately help lead you to a long and prosperous career in this field.


• Able to provide direct subordinates with strong leadership and direction

• Able to align with the core values and mission of an organization

• Able to effectively deal with pressure and stress

• Enjoy making decisions

• Enjoy compiling and organizing information

• Willing to put in extra working hours for completing tasks

• Not afraid to seize opportunities for advancement when they arise

• Able to create a positive work environment by being courteous when interacting with others

• Enjoy working with others, yet able to work independently on tasks

• Able to follow direction from supervisors and management





Who Creates Jobs for Administrative Officers?

Jobs for administrative officers are typically on a full-time basis, and can be found with virtually any kind of organization, within any industry.


Organizations that hire administrative officers may include:


• Municipal, provincial/state and federal government agencies

• School districts

• Local, regional and federal health authorities

• Local, regional and federal law enforcement agencies

• Transportation companies

• Travel and tourism companies

• Banks and financial firms

• Large professional service firms, such as legal firms

• Energy companies

• Business-to-business service and goods providers

• Colleges and universities

• Manufacturing and distribution companies

• Amateur and professional sports teams and leagues

• Non-profit organizations



Career Advancement Opportunities

A relatively common promotional structure is in place for administrative officers. With enough career experience, administrative officers may progress into similar roles of increasing responsibility. For example, they may become administrative directors, or move into other roles within the executive management of an organization.


An undergraduate or graduate degree in management, business administration, or a related field, can greatly enhance an administrative officer’s opportunities to advance to higher-level positions. Some employers may even require administrative officers to first advance their education before they will be considered for executive roles.


Career advancement for these professionals is generally thought to be easier in large organizations that employ several levels, and types, of administrative personnel.



Putting it all Together: Steps for Becoming an Administrative Officer

To sum all of this up, here are the essential steps you’ll need to take to become an administrative officer:


Step 1 - Check if you’re well suited

Can you provide workers with strong leadership and direction? Are you able to align with the core values and mission of an organization? Are you fearless when it comes to seizing opportunities for advancement? If you’ve answered “yes” to these questions, then off to step 2.


Step 2 - Get an education

Although the specific education you’ll need isn’t set in stone, a diploma or degree in a field that is relevant to the job you’ll be applying for be very helpful, and be seen as valuable by employers, as will an education in business management or administration. Given that it may be difficult to determine what industry your future employer will operate in, an eduction in business is a safe option.


Step 3 - Get experience

You may need experience in the department you’ll be overseeing before being put in charge of it (unless the employer deems that your education in enough). In this case, you should gain lower-level experience to “learn the ropes”, before advancing into a leadership position. If experience is not required because of your education, then all you have to do is look for a suitable administrative officer job after graduation?


Step 4 - Get an administrative officer job

Start looking at job postings to see what you’re interested in and what you qualify for. You may find at this point that you have plenty of education and/or experience to qualify for your preferred jobs. Be aware that many jobs won’t say “Administrative Officer” as it is more or less a blanket term; keep your eyes out for the terms “Manager”, “Supervisor” and “Administrator” in the title of the posting. Next, be sure to check the job description so that you’re looking for something similar to what we’ve described below in the “General Job Description” section.



Details of the Career: Job Description

Administrative officers are responsible for overseeing and supervising the administrative operations of their department. This may include establishing, implementing and improving administrative procedures.


They are also responsible for establishing work priorities within their department, as well as coordinating the acquisition of administrative services such as office space, information technology, supplies and security services.



General Job Duties

Although the job duties of administrative officers can vary (typically depending on the administrative department they manage, and the specific responsibilities of their job), they are often responsible for the following:


• Sourcing, purchasing, taking inventory of, and distribute supplies

• Supervising various clerical and administrative personnel

• Setting performance goals and deadlines for the department

• Developing, managing, and monitoring records

• Recommending changes to policies or procedures in order to make operations more efficient

• Planning budgets for contracts, equipment, and supplies

• Monitoring the facility in order to ensure proper safety, security and maintenance

• Ensuring facilities meet environmental, health, and security standards and comply with government regulations

• Coordinating and planning for office services such as new employee accommodation, and existing employee relocation



How Much Do They Earn?

The salary level of administrative officers can vary, typically depending on the following factors:


• Their level of education

• Their level of experience

• The specific responsibilities of their job

• The size and type of their employer

• The region in which they work


Salary - Alberta: According to the 2015 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, the overall annual salary of Albertans working in the Administrative Officers occupational group is $63,075 per year. 


Salary - United States: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2015 Occupational Employment Statistics survey, the median salary level of American workers in the Administrative Services Managers occupational group is $86,110 per year.



Administrative Officer Jobs

Our job board below has "Administrative Officer" postings in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia.





Typical Work Environment

Working Hours: Most administrative officers work at least 35-40 hours per week, from Monday to Friday. They may however, be needed for overtime, which may include evenings and weekends. 


Work Setting: The work of administrative officers most often takes place in an office environment. Travel for work isn't all that common, although it may be required from time to time, depending on the needs of the employer.


Working Conditions: Administrative officers spend much of their day in an office. They may, from time to time, make site visits around the building, go outdoors to supervise outdoor activities (such as grounds maintenance), or inspect other facilities under their management.



Similar Occupations in Our Database

Listed below are careers in our database that are similar in nature to Administrative Officer, as they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and responsibilities.


Administrative Assistant

Administrative Director

Contract Administrator

Operations Manager

Purchasing Manager



References for this Career Guide

The following resources were drawn from in the preparation of this career guide:


• “Occupational Profile: Administrative Officers.” (n.d.). Alberta Government - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved August 16, 2016.

• “Occupational Outlook Handbook: Administrative Services Managers.” (May, 2015). United States Department of Labor - Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved August 16, 2016.

• “Job Profiles: Civil Service Administrative Officer” (n.d.). National Careers Service. Retrieved August 16, 2016.



Scholarships for Relevant Areas of Study

Looking for Canadian or American scholarships to help you on your way to becoming an administrative officer? We’ve got you covered! Here's how to find the best-suited scholarships:


• On, our scholarship listings are sorted by major

• The “Relevant Areas of Study” section below shows what majors apply to this career

• Search scholarships by major on our All Scholarships by Major page.


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!



Relevant Areas of Study

Studying one of the university majors listed below can serve as an excellent foundation for getting started in this field. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!


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