Best Administrative Assistant Certifications

Feb 03, 2022

What is a Certificate Program in Administrative Assistant?

A certificate program in administrative assistant tests prospective administrative assistants' skills in relevant areas such as communication, organization, and management. To become a certified administrative assistant, you must pass an exam such as the Certified Administrative Professional (CAP) exam or the Professional Administrative Certification of Excellence (PACE.) Once you pass this exam, you will become a nationally recognized certified administrative assistant in the United States. This certification needs to be renewed every few years to stay up to date with the latest developments in the field of administrative assistance.

Certificates in Administrative Assistant Certification

School Tuition* Acceptance Rate Placement Services Career Services
1 Santa Rosa Junior College $25056 49 No Yes
2 College of San Mateo $17930 49 Yes Yes
3 Pasadena City College $12870 0 Yes Yes
4 Glendale Community College $15750 71 Yes Yes
5 Mt San Antonio College $11964 90 No Yes
6 Utah Valley University $5996 91 Yes Yes
7 West Valley College $9288 75 No Yes
8 Saddleback College $30427 64 Yes Yes
9 Mission College $12774 0 Yes Yes
10 Northern Wyoming Community College District $9072 66 Yes Yes
11 San Jacinto Community College $17500 0 Yes Yes
12 Mid-Plains Community College $8946 94 Yes Yes
13 Northeast Community College $16983 0 No No
14 Shoreline Community College $9288 91 Yes Yes
15 Arkansas Tech University $5256 95 Yes Yes
16 Lee College $47980 80 Yes Yes
17 University of Alaska Fairbanks $10414 76 Yes Yes
18 El Camino Community College District $9288 83 No Yes
19 New River Community College $6165 0 Yes Yes
20 Minnesota State Community and Technical College $34833 76 Yes Yes
21 Ventura College $48624 9 Yes Yes
22 Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College $3872 68 No Yes
23 Western Wyoming Community College $23556 0 Yes Yes
24 Central Community College $16848 75 Yes Yes
25 East Los Angeles College $4749 79 Yes Yes
26 North Iowa Area Community College $6743 94 No Yes
27 Hutchinson Community College $15990 85 Yes Yes
28 Citrus College $20016 0 No Yes
29 Santa Barbara City College $7176 64 Yes Yes
30 West Kentucky Community and Technical College $9288 75 No Yes
31 Waubonsee Community College $54250 14 Yes Yes
32 City College of San Francisco $20016 0 No Yes
33 Meridian Community College $15570 86 Yes Yes
34 Chabot College $16700 70 Yes Yes
35 Eastern Iowa Community College District $8640 86 Yes Yes
36 Carl Sandburg College $5112 0 Yes Yes

To get a more in-depth look at our school ranking methodology, please visit our ranking methodology page.

*Tuition information is based on published tuition and required fees, per data by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

What is the Difference Between a Certificate and a Degree in Administrative Assistant?

An associate or bachelor's degree is often, but not always, a pre-requisite before completing an administrative assistant certificate program. You may complete a certification program even if you don't have a degree but have relevant work experience. However, an administrative assistant's associate or bachelor degree provides a good foundation. Though an associate or bachelor's degree is not required before certification, you may want to consider degrees in administrative assistance to help you decide which is the best study pathway for your needs.

Should I Get a Certificate in Administrative Assistant?

If you are looking for a career as an administrative assistant, it is hard to go wrong with an administrative assistant certificate. A certificate program adds to the knowledge and skill learned during a degree program. It also gives future employers confidence that the job applicant's skills as an administrative assistant are credible and dependable. Certified administrative assistants are nationally recognized and frequently they are paid more than administrative assistants who do not possess a national certificate. A certificate in administrative assistant shows that you are skilled and dedicated to a career as an administrative assistant. It will therefore help you rise above the fray while looking for job opportunities as an administrative assistant. An administrative assistant certificate shows potential employers that you are serious about pursuing a career as an administrative assistant and will help you stand out in the job market.

There are multiple degree options you may wish to consider before pursuing your certification. For those looking for a two-year degree, a Degree in Business Support and Administrative Services is a strong choice. This program will teach students all they need to know about managing an office setting, from organizing the appointment calendar to maintaining a communicative office environment. When considering four-year degrees, a Bachelor of Administrative Studies can provide more in-depth preparation for a career as an administrative assistant. The focus of these degree programs may vary. Some degrees focus on a general overview of business, while others pair business courses with classes in further specifications, such as history or economics. After completing their bachelor's, some students may choose to complete a Master's of Arts in Administrative Leadership. This degree will help graduates to gain employment in fields such as educational administration, human resources, or service management.

Career Options After Completing a Certificate Program in Administrative Assistant

Executive Administrative Assistant

Like any administrative assistant, an executive administrative assistant supports employees by managing office tasks, such as scheduling meetings and events, bookkeeping, and maintaining a detailed record of business meetings. However, executive administrative assistants specifically work for company executives. They are therefore a direct link to those at the top of the business and will typically be responsible for arranging their meetings and appointments and presenting them with the most valuable information about the latest company developments. An executive administrative assistant can play an important role in a business as they manage the company executive's day-to-day activities and can even influence company culture, communication, and policy. According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), executive administrative assistants are among the highest-earners in their field, averaging a salary of around $65,000 per year in the U.S. as of May 2020.

Office Manager

Office managers set the tone for their workplace, as they are in many ways the ambassador of their office. This is a great career for positive, hard-working people with strong organizational skills and a friendly, confident demeanor in their interactions with employees and visitors alike. Though office managers complete many of the same administrative duties as administrative assistants, they are also responsible for designing and implementing new strategies to improve the workplace environment. This means that it is important that as an office manager you are both creative and organized. The office manager plays a key role in ensuring the success of the company, and often they may be the first welcoming face a person sees when they step into the office.

Human Resources Administrative Assistant

As a human resources administrative assistant, you will help a human resources manager with various office duties that can make their work smoother. A human resources administrative assistant should have the same basic skills as any other administrative assistant. Additionally, they need to have knowledge of office protocols, the capability to train new employees, and strong problem-solving abilities. If you are skilled in mediating conflict and want to help forge a harmonious workplace environment, a career as a human resources administrative assistant may be perfect for you.

Courses for a Certificate Program in Administrative Assistant

In a certificate program, there are no traditional courses as you would find with a college degree program. Instead, there are two different exams you may complete to achieve your certification. Though both exams are designed to test the skills you will need as an administrative assistant, each exam has a different question format, different areas of focus, and different study materials.

Professional Administrative Certificate of Excellence (PACE)

The Professional Administrative Certificate of Excellence, or PACE for short, is an online exam that prospective administrative assistants to take at their own convenience. Materials such as videos and guides are provided to help you study for the exam and these resources are included with your purchase. Because the test is online, you may take it whenever you choose, provided you complete the exam within one year of signing up. The exam focuses on management, communication, and technological skills which are vital for your success as an administrative assistant.

Certified Administrative Professional (CAP)

The Certified Administrative Professional or CAP is a multiple-choice exam that can be taken twice every year during the first Friday and Saturday each May and November at official testing locations throughout the country. Those who pass the exam will be certified for the next five years. Renewal of your certification can be completed for a small fee. Before the exam, study guides provided by the International Association of Administrative Professionals (also known as IAAP) that cover the material which will be on the exam are available, for your perusal. The exam tests six key areas, including communication, technology, management, and writing, and takes approximately three hours to complete.

How Long Does a Certificate Program in Administrative Assistant Take?

People interested in a certificate program can largely set their own pace, as certification is a way to test their established knowledge about administrative assistance. You will need to have a background in being an administrative assistant and/or possess a degree in a related field of study. It is also helpful to have several years of related work experience prior to enrolling in a certificate program. PACE recommends six to nine months of study before completing the exam, while for the CAP exam, you should plan for a period of three to six months of study before sitting down to complete the exam.

Continued Education After a Certificate Program in Administrative Assistant

After completing your certification in administrative assistant, you will need to renew your certificate. For the PACE exam, you must complete 24 hours of Continuing Education Units (CEUs) every two years and there is a recertification fee of $75. As for the CAP recertification, you will have to recertify every three years by completing CEUs in Professional Development, Industry-Specific Professional Development, and Leadership. Recertification can be completed in-person or online for CAP.

How to Choose a Certificate Program in Administrative Assistant

PACE and CAP are both reputable, established programs that will help you in your quest to become a certified administrative assistant. Because the PACE can be completed online and at your own convenience, this offers you flexibility in how quickly or slowly you move through the course content before taking the exam. The CAP requires an in-person exam and is only available twice a year. It does, however, meet international standards for administrative assistance, which means it can be a better choice for anyone who is keen to work outside of the United States or those looking to get into more prestigious career paths.

How to Get into Administrative Assistant Certificate Programs

Administrative assistant certificate programs are available to candidates with a variety of backgrounds and educational experience. If you are looking to enroll in CAP, you can get started by completing an application on the IAAP website and signing up for either the spring or fall test date. Those interested in PACE may enroll at the website for The American Society of Administrative Professionals, also known as ASAP.

Cost of an Administrative Assistant Certificate Program

PACE is $375 per person; this includes the price of study materials. CAP is also $375 for those who are already members of IAAP and the cost for non-members is $575. A practice exam can be completed and this costs $49 for IAAP members and $149 for non-members. The cost to renew your certification is $75 for PACE and $100 for CAP.

Financial Aid and Scholarship Resources for Administrative Assistant Certificate Programs

Though the price for administrative assistant certificate programs is relatively low, there are options for those who cannot afford the related fees. Military veterans, military spouses, or dependents interested in certification may receive financial support from My Career Advancement Account Scholarship, or MyCAA, which will cover the expense of the exam and preparatory materials. If you do not have a military background but still require financing to advance your career with an administrative assistant certificate, you may be interested in applying for an educational loan to cover the associated costs.

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