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

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

Administrative professionals are responsible for a variety of tasks in an office setting. They may work in human resources, marketing, finance or another area of business. An administrative assistant is a type of administrative professional who provides support to one or more individuals in an organization. In this article, we discuss the similarities and differences between administrative professionals and administrative assistants. We also provide information on what you can expect from each role and tips for pursuing a career in this field.

What is an Administrative Professional?

Administrative Professionals are responsible for a wide range of clerical and administrative tasks. They may work in an office setting, supporting a team of employees, or they may work remotely, providing administrative support to a single individual. Administrative Professionals typically handle tasks such as scheduling appointments, managing correspondence, preparing reports and presentations, handling travel arrangements, and maintaining records. In some cases, they may also provide customer service or support. Administrative Professionals need to be highly organized, detail-oriented, and able to multitask in order to be successful in their roles.

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.

Administrative Professional vs. Administrative Assistant

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

Job Duties

Administrative professionals have a wide variety of job duties, depending on their industry and company. They might manage databases, organize files, schedule meetings, prepare correspondence, maintain security and IT systems and handle human resources functions like employee records and hiring.

Administrative assistants typically have more direct interaction with employees, which means they often have specific job duties related to providing support and helping employees complete tasks. These duties can include giving reminders, making phone calls, taking messages, typing memos, organizing folders and providing photocopying services.

Job Requirements

Administrative professionals typically need at least a high school diploma to enter the field, though some jobs may require postsecondary education, such as an associate degree in business administration or a related field. Many administrative professionals also pursue certifications to improve their job prospects and demonstrate their commitment to the profession. The International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP) offers several certification programs for administrative professionals at different levels of experience.

Administrative assistants usually need at least a high school diploma as well. However, many employers prefer candidates who have completed some college coursework or have earned an associate degree in business administration or a related field. Additionally, administrative assistants can pursue voluntary certifications to improve their job prospects and show potential employers that they are committed to their career. The IAAP offers several certification programs for administrative assistants, including the Certified Administrative Professional (CAP) designation.

Work Environment

Administrative professionals and administrative assistants often work in different environments. Administrative professionals typically work in an office environment, while administrative assistants may also work in a variety of settings, such as hospitals or schools. They both may work during regular business hours, but administrative professionals may have more flexibility with their schedules than administrative assistants.

Administrative professionals usually work in offices where they can collaborate with other professionals to complete projects. They may work on teams that include managers, executives and other professionals. Administrative professionals may travel for work purposes, such as attending meetings or conferences.


The specific skills used on the job by administrative professionals and administrative assistants can vary depending on the company they work for and the specific duties of their position. However, there are some general skills that are common to both roles. These include excellent communication skills, strong organizational abilities, attention to detail and the ability to multitask.

Administrative professionals may use more specialized skills in their jobs than administrative assistants. For example, they may use project management skills to coordinate multiple tasks and deadlines, or they may use research skills to gather information for reports or presentations. They may also use customer service skills when interacting with clients or customers on behalf of the company.

Administrative assistants typically have a more general skill set that can be applied to a variety of tasks. They may provide support to multiple departments or employees within a company, so they need to be able to adapt their skills to meet the needs of each individual. Additionally, administrative assistants may be responsible for managing schedules and calendars, so time management skills are important in this role.


Administrative professionals can earn an average salary of $48,579 per year, while administrative assistants can earn an average salary of $45,618 per year. Both of these average salaries may vary depending on the size of the company at which you work, location of your job and the level of experience you have prior to pursuing either position.


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