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What does business administration involve?

Clerks/administrative assistants work in offices, helping to make sure that their organisation's administrative and information systems run smoothly. They have a wide range of clerical and administrative support duties, usually working under supervision.

Administrative officers might be responsible for collecting and opening the post, and for delivering it to the correct department or member of staff. They might also collect outgoing mail and prepare it for sending. They use a franking machine to record payment of postage and place mail in the correct postbag.

They provide administrative support, carrying out duties such as sending emails, photocopying, filing, answering the telephone, taking messages, and ordering stationery and other resources. Some clerks provide cover on a reception desk or telephone switchboard.

Clerks also keep and update records. They usually do this by entering data into a computer, sometimes using databases. Alternatively, they might record information by filling in forms or writing notes. Some clerks are responsible for filing systems, making sure that important documents are properly recorded and stored. They can then find information on request from other members of staff.

Some clerks might have responsibility for employee records such as time sheets, staff absences, pension contributions, claims for expenses and holiday leave entitlements.

Some clerks specialise in accounts/finance work, with particular responsibility for the financial aspects of office administration, such as preparing invoices and working out the cost of customer orders. They might calculate wages based on employees' time sheets, deducting tax, medical insurance, pensions contributions and National Insurance.

Some clerks have word-processing duties. They might word process from a rough draft of a document or from recorded speech (audio transcription). Clerks might specialise as word processor operators, usually in larger offices. In smaller offices, they are likely to have a number of other duties.

What skills will I need?

As a clerk or administrative assistant, you'll need:

  • Literacy and number skills.
  • Communication skills.
  • IT, word-processing or keyboard skills.
  • To be well organised, methodical and careful in your work.
  • Teamwork skills.
  • The ability to operate standard office equipment, such as photocopiers.
  • To have a smart appearance if you have reception duties.
  • A professional, polite, helpful telephone manner.
  • To be able to use your initiative to complete tasks.
You might need to be able to deal with confidential information. Word processor operators might be required to have typing speeds of between 40 and 50 words per minute.


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