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Administrative Assistant vs. Administrative Specialist: What Are the Differences?

Learn about the two careers and review some of the similarities and differences between them.

Administrative assistants and administrative specialists are both important positions within an organization. They provide support to the staff and help keep the office running smoothly. Though these roles share some similarities, there are several key differences between them.

In this article, we discuss the differences between an administrative assistant and an administrative specialist, and we provide tips for those interested in pursuing a career in either field.

What is an Administrative Assistant?

Administrative Assistants provide high-level administrative support for company leaders to ensure they can efficiently accomplish key tasks and company initiatives. They keep the executive’s communications organized so that they can easily access the most important information without having to sort through low-priority items. Administrative Assistants screen all visitors and determine what level of support they need while offering polite, professional customer service. They manage the executive’s daily calendar, including scheduling meetings, confirming appointments, writing itineraries and arranging for transportation. Administrative Assistants also train other administrative staff on company policies and best practices.

What is an Administrative Specialist?

Administrative Specialists provide support to an organization by performing a variety of administrative and clerical tasks. They maintain records, schedule appointments, prepare correspondence and assist customers or clients. Administrative Specialists often work in office settings, but they may also work remotely. They typically report to an office manager or supervisor. Administrative Specialists need to be highly organized and detail-oriented to be successful in their role. They must also have excellent communication and customer service skills.

Administrative Assistant vs. Administrative Specialist

Here are the main differences between an administrative assistant and an administrative specialist.

Job Duties

Administrative assistants and specialists may perform similar job duties, like answering phones, taking messages and transferring calls. They may also organize files, type correspondence, schedule meetings and take notes during meetings.

Other job duties an administrative assistant might perform include managing calendars, scheduling travel and arranging for transportation. An administrative assistant might also handle hiring and firing employees and conducting performance reviews.

Administrative specialists might have job duties that an administrative assistant doesn’t, including performing research, preparing reports and drafting correspondence. They might also train employees in software programs and systems and manage IT departments.

Job Requirements

Administrative assistants and administrative specialists typically need at least a high school diploma to enter the field. However, some employers prefer candidates who have an associate degree or some college coursework in business administration or a related field. Additionally, many administrative professionals pursue certifications through organizations like the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP) to improve their job prospects. These certifications demonstrate that an administrative professional has the skills necessary to perform their job duties effectively.

Work Environment

Administrative assistants typically work in an office environment, often for a single employer. They may also travel to meet with clients or attend meetings and events. Administrative specialists usually work in an office environment as well, but they may have more responsibilities that take them out of the office. For example, they may visit clients’ locations to evaluate their needs and provide solutions.

Administrative assistants can work full time or part time depending on the needs of their employers. Some administrative assistants work overtime when necessary. Administrative specialists may work overtime if needed, but they typically work standard business hours.


Administrative assistants and administrative specialists both use a variety of skills to perform their jobs. These can include customer service skills, communication skills, organizational skills, time management skills and computer skills.

One key difference between these two positions is that administrative assistants typically work in more generalist roles, while administrative specialists often have more specific duties. For example, an administrative assistant might be responsible for managing a variety of tasks for their employer, such as scheduling appointments, handling customer inquiries and preparing reports. An administrative specialist, on the other hand, might focus on just one area, such as human resources or accounting. As a result, administrative specialists might develop more expertise in their chosen field and use more specialized skills in their daily work.


Administrative assistants earn an average salary of $45,618 per year, while administrative specialists earn an average salary of $50,836 per year. The average salary for both positions may vary depending on the size of the company, the location of the job and the level of experience the employee has prior to taking the position.


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