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Project Manager vs. Administrative Assistant: What Are the Differences?

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

Project managers and administrative assistants are both important roles within a company. While they share some similarities, there are several key differences between the two positions. In this article, we discuss the duties of a project manager and an administrative assistant, and we explain how the two roles differ. We also provide tips on how to choose the right career path for you.

What is a Project Manager?

Project Managers are responsible for leading a team of employees to complete a specific goal within a set timeframe. They develop and oversee project plans, ensuring that all tasks are completed on time and within budget. They also manage risks and issues, communicate with stakeholders, and provide status updates to upper management. Project Managers must have strong leadership and communication skills to effectively motivate and guide their team. They also need to be well-organized and detail-oriented to create and monitor detailed project plans.

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.

Project Manager vs. Administrative Assistant

Here are the main differences between a project manager and an administrative assistant.

Job Duties

Although project managers and administrative assistants perform tasks that help organizations succeed, their duties differ. Project managers are responsible for the success of a project from beginning to end. They plan projects, direct teams and communicate with clients. Administrative assistants typically handle day-to-day tasks that keep an office running smoothly. Their job is to support the employees who work on projects by completing paperwork, making phone calls, organizing files and providing transportation.

The duties of an administrative assistant tend to be more routine and predictable than those of a project manager. While project managers often face new challenges in each role they take on, administrative assistants may learn how to complete specific tasks over time.

Job Requirements

Project managers typically need at least a bachelor’s degree in business administration, project management or a related field. They might also pursue a master’s degree or certification to help them stand out to employers. Many project managers have experience working as administrative assistants before moving into management roles. Administrative assistants only need a high school diploma or equivalent for most entry-level positions. However, some jobs might require postsecondary education, such as an associate degree in office administration or a related field.

Work Environment

Administrative assistants typically work in an office environment, often for a single employer. They may travel to different locations within their company or meet with clients and vendors in person. Project managers can also work in an office setting but may spend more time on the road than administrative assistants. They may travel to visit construction sites or meet with clients at their offices.


Both project managers and administrative assistants need to have excellent organizational skills. This is because they often are responsible for coordinating multiple tasks, projects or people at one time. They also both need to be able to communicate effectively, as they will be communicating with different team members, clients or customers regularly.

Project managers tend to use more specific skills related to their field, such as project management software and tools, while administrative assistants typically use more general office software, like Microsoft Office. Administrative assistants also may benefit from having bookkeeping skills, as they often are responsible for managing finances for their department or company. Project managers usually need to have an understanding of various business concepts so that they can apply them to their projects. For example, they may need to understand marketing principles to develop a promotional campaign or human resources procedures to onboard new team members.


Project managers earn an average salary of $87,628 per year, while administrative assistants earn an average salary of $45,618 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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