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Administrator vs. Administrative Assistant: What Are the Differences?

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

In the business world, there are many different types of administrative positions. Two common roles are that of an administrator and an administrative assistant. Though both of these positions involve performing administrative tasks, there are several key differences between them.

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

What is an Administrator?

Administrators are responsible for the day-to-day operations of a company or organization. They develop and implement policies and procedures to ensure that the company runs smoothly and efficiently. Administrators also oversee the budget and financial planning for the company. They may be in charge of human resources, including hiring and firing employees, and they may also handle customer service issues. In larger companies, there may be multiple administrators with different areas of responsibility. In smaller companies, the administrator may be responsible for all aspects of the business.

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.

Administrator vs. Administrative Assistant

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

Job Duties

Administrative assistants carry out the tasks and duties their bosses require of them. They may perform a variety of tasks within an office environment, like managing email inboxes, taking phone calls, scheduling meetings and taking notes during meetings.

Administrative assistants also have more focused job responsibilities that relate to specific areas of expertise. For example, if the company they work for requires strong typing skills, they may be responsible for typing documents for the rest of the staff to use. If the company needs someone with strong research skills, they may take on the task of compiling information for other employees to use.

Job Requirements

Administrators typically need at least a bachelor’s degree to enter the field, though some jobs may require a master’s degree. Common majors for administrators include business administration, public administration and healthcare administration. Many administrators also pursue certifications to show their commitment to professional development. For example, the American College of Healthcare Executives offers the Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives (FACHE) credential, which is one of the most respected credentials in healthcare administration.

Administrative assistants usually only need a high school diploma or equivalent to enter the workforce. However, many administrative assistant roles require specialized skills, such as proficiency in Microsoft Office Suite programs. As a result, many administrative assistants choose to earn an associate degree or certificate in office administration from a community college or vocational school. These programs teach students how to use common office software and perform other administrative tasks.

Work Environment

Administrative assistants typically work in an office environment, often for a single employer. They may travel to different locations within their company to provide administrative support and collaborate with other employees. Administrative assistants usually work full time during regular business hours, but they may also work overtime or on weekends if necessary.

Administrative assistants can sometimes work in hospitals, schools or government agencies. Some administrative assistants work remotely from home offices.


Both administrators and administrative assistants use a variety of skills in their jobs. These can include customer service, communication, organization, time management and computer skills. However, the specific skills used in each job can differ depending on the responsibilities of the role.

An administrator may need to use more advanced computer skills than an administrative assistant as they often are responsible for managing complex systems or developing new software programs. They also may need to have project management skills to oversee initiatives within their company. An administrative assistant typically uses computer skills to create documents, spreadsheets and presentations, and may also schedule appointments and manage customer databases.

While both administrators and administrative assistants need excellent communication skills to interact with colleagues, customers and vendors, an administrator may need to use these skills more frequently when they are presenting information to groups or facilitating meetings. An administrative assistant typically uses communication skills when they are drafting emails, memos and other correspondence.


The average salary for an administrator is $59,199 per year, while the average salary for an administrative assistant is $45,618 per year. The 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.


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