Our guide to administration

Our guide to administration

First published date February 26 2014 Amended date March 06 2014

Administration is a very broad area that can cover a great number of industries, skills and professions. Administration incorporates human resources (HR), finance, accounting, office management among others. Whether you’re looking to be a secretary, a PA, a receptionist, a bookkeeper or a clerk, administration has all your bases covered.  The people behind the administrative side of any company are the real backbone of a business and really tie the whole operation together. So if this sounds like the career path you would like to venture down, then why not take a look at the many administration training courses we have on offer?


Why administration?

The administration side of any successful business is vitally important and something that tends to be underrated. Administration teams are needed, as they take a huge work load off the mind of the rest of the company’s employees and let them concentrate solely on their job at hand. It’s a job sector that will rarely find you twiddling your thumbs as there is always something to be done around the office, whether it’s organising meeting rooms and conferences or liaising with colleagues to ensure everything is running smoothly behind the scenes. Though your role may not be in the foreground of the company, every business needs its admin side. Staff members will often come to you with queries so if you like being entrusted with a great amount of responsibility then working in admin could be for you.


What are the minimum requirements for me to enrol on an administration training course?

You don’t have to have any kind of previous office or admin experience, though that would be very beneficial and some more advanced courses do require at least some experience or qualifications.  Beginner administration courses only tend to ask for A-C grade GCSEs especially in English and maths, and apprenticeships may require you to already be working in the industry. Otherwise, generally speaking, courses are open to most people and have many varying pathways which you can go down.


What type of administration courses and careers are out there?

As mentioned, the administrative industry is vast and covers an array of areas and fields. There are over 900 administration courses currently on offer, so it’s important that you do your research and make a conscious decision on which one is best for you to do. Here are a few of the more common ones...

Legal administration – A legal administrator will help with the daily running of the office of a law firm for example. They are non-attorney employees meaning they are not trained in or have any real input in the legal side of a law firm but may need at least a grasp of some the legal jargon. They tend to look after the company’s books as well as handling paper work. A lawyer may assign their admin assistant to type subpoenas or summons and other legal documents also. A course in legal admin may lead you to a career as a legal secretary.

Medical administration – Much like a legal administrator, a medical administrator won’t have the medical qualifications or know how but may be expected to know medical terms. You might find yourself working without any patient interaction at all or you might end up working in a hospital ward or GP surgery. Some of the work may involve looking after patient records and appointment bookings and a course in medical administration could lead to a career as a practice manager.

Secretarial/PA – There are many careers as a personal assistant (PA) around. Secretaries and PAs are usually personally assigned to a couple of people or just one person in a company, normally directors or other senior managers in the business hierarchy. They will tend to look after the diary, personal appointments, bookings and telephone calls of a CEO, for example.

Reception work – Though most receptionist careers don’t really require formal qualifications other than GCSEs, if you wanted to become a reception manager for example, it may be a good idea to have some training behind you while gaining your experience. As a front of house staff member, you may be the first face of the company you work for so you will need to have a smart appearance, polite manner and be good with people, whether it’s over the phone or in person.

Payroll administrator – Everyone has to be paid! And of course someone has to take on this very important role in any company. Some companies employ payroll administrators to work within the company whereas others may outsource to specific payroll companies. Either way, you will be required to oversee the transfer of wages to staff, making sure their tax or national insurance is deducted correctly, as well as taking on other general clerical duties. Careers in payroll will need you to be especially good with numbers, a financial noose and have a very keen eye for detail.


What will an administration course entail?

There are many things you can learn in administration and each course varies depending on which path you decide to go down. There are some general modules that are covered in many different kinds of admin courses; some include Microsoft Office training, which is a very important skill to have in admin, being competent with programmes like Word, Outlook and Excel. Most admin courses will also teach you useful skills like touch typing and show you the best methods of communication in the workplace. The latter is particularly handy, as much of the day to day goings on in the office may run through the administration team and that will have to be conveyed to the rest of the company. Your communication and organisational skills will be strengthened and will become more than essential to you for you to be successful in your chosen career path. Other areas you may end up covering could involve reception skills, time management training as well as the inevitable health and safety side of things also.

There are Level 1 and foundation courses for beginners which will show you how things work in an office environment. You will be taken through the fundamentals of how an office functions and an understanding of what your role may be within it, whether you’re a receptionist or looking to get in to HR.

More advanced courses may suit you better if you are already working within administration and need further qualifications to pursue your career in your chosen sector. Level 2 and 3 NVQs in varying fields will be great for you to take if you’re looking to move up in your job and want a professional and industry recognised qualification to sure up your CV along with your experience.

There are also many apprenticeships on offer too for such fields as business administration. There are varying levels of apprenticeships which require you to already be working in an office-based, admin environment. As well as spending most of your time at work, you will of course be required to attend your college or learning centre where you will be taught and assessed on a number of compulsory modules as well making your choice of some optional electives also. Apprenticeships are a great way for you to earn and learn particularly if you are just out of school.

Courses vary in length depending on which path you decide to go down and some can be done from home through distance learning. You will find that many courses are part-time but there are different ways in which you can go about taking your course, this flexibility allows you to fit around your work or social life.


Careers and qualifications

There are many careers in administration ranging from jobs in human resources (HR) to administrator roles for different sectors like medical or legal, each requiring different types and levels of formal qualification. Most courses on offer will be offering some kind of industry recognised qualification upon completion.  Whether you gain a Level 2 or 3 NVQ or SVQ, a diploma or complete an apprenticeship, they will all prepare you and give you the best tools for working in an administrative role.

NVQ Levels 2 and 3, you will find are the most common amongst our list of courses. Any course which offers a Level 2 NVQ will suit you best if you’re just getting into an administrative type role and would like to progress into the more management side of things through developing your skills. Level 3 on the other hand, though fairly similar to Level 2 in its content, is more suited to those who have more hands on experience in admin work who may be more prepared to move up the career ladder sooner into more senior roles.

Levels 1 and 4 are at totally different ends of the spectrum obviously and there aren’t as many courses available for these levels as there is at Levels 2 and 3. Level  1 will be suited to if you if you’re just starting out and need to gain the more basic of skills whereas Level  4 will be good for if you if you are someone who may already be working in a more senior, management role.

There are as many types of qualifications as there are jobs in the huge field of administration. There are various awards for different sectors so it’s well worth spending plenty of time doing a bit of research to get the most out of the course you choose to take. Having a look at learning providers as well awarding bodies like the International Association of Book-Keepers (IAB), this one specifically handy for anyone looking into financial or accounting admin, is great preparation to ensure you make the correct choice with your future.