Are assistant certification courses necessary?
At Office Dynamics, we are noticing a tremendous amount of interest in executive assistant certification or administrative assistant certification courses or programs. We regularly see interest in our certificate-based designation programs, World Class Assistant Certification program or our Star Achievement Series Certification and Designation curriculum. This proves assistants are getting serious about their career and training and HR departments are valuing continued education for this role.
More and more, administrative professionals are asking my opinion on having a certification. I hear questions like, “Will this give me an advantage in the workplace?” “Will I get more money with a certification?” “Is certification for the administrative profession becoming a requirement in the business world?”
I am pleased that there is an interest in this topic because I am working with some top-notch organizations who are thinking the same thing – as they look to the future and what they will require of individuals coming into their organization and want to make a career in the administrative field. The good news for you is I have a lot of opinions and facts to share with you. So let’s just begin; my ideas are in no particular order, except for the first one.
First and foremost, it is not a document, paper, degree, certification or designation that makes a world class or star assistant. I have seen many assistants who have a designation from a well-known association and are not star performers in their job. I have observed on the job, at their workstation (for 2 days), executive assistants who have been in field for 20+ years and are not stars or have ‘prima donna’ attitudes; feeling they have no more to learn or they are already at the top of their game. I have seen young people in the profession who are smart, bright and great administrative or personal executive assistants who are very successful. In fact, in the past week, I was surrounded by 4 young, bright administrative professionals who are truly going to be successful as they continue to mature in the profession and as individuals.
Second, I believe in all training, learning and education. It will not hurt you to have a certification and to a potential employer, demonstrates you take your profession seriously and like to learn. When I interview people for any type of administrative position within Office Dynamics, I always look to see if they have any kind of continued learning or education on their resume. Then I focus in on whether the interviewee has taken workshops or classes in the administrative profession.
- Is an executive assistant certificate right for you?
- What can I do with an administrative certification?
- Why assistants should consider certification (a free webinar replay) with Joan Burge
Ok, now that I have that off my mind…
What is going on out there with assistant certification and career paths?
- I am working with a few very large organizations that are going to require an administrative certification or 2-year college degree in business administrative coupled along with administrative-specific training such as our Star Achievement Series®.
- Certification seems to have more prominence today as we daily see the interest in Office Dynamics classes that provide a certification.
- Understand the difference between Certificate of Completion, Certification, and a professional designation. Normally, attendees receive a Certificate of Completion for attending a seminar, workshop, on-line course, even webinars and more. In most cases, Certifications are obtained through associations and meeting specific requirements. There are some special situations, though, as with our Star Achievement Series® course and World Class Assistant course. We offer a Curriculum-Based Certification and Designation. Both of these programs are a series or have multiple parts. Years ago, our clients “begged” me to figure out how this could be offered as more of their administrative employees attended either program. After a tremendous amount of research and discussions with the American Society for Training & Development (ASTD) (Update: now known as Association for Talent Development-ATD), I learned how Office Dynamics could offer this. In addition to attendance, there is a list of objectives students have to meet; students have to demonstrate newly-learned skilled in the class; obtain a letter from their leader stating the behavior changes observed in the workplace and more. These are “no fluff” classes, although we have great fun while learning.
- Be prepared for big changes in the future as employers realize their baby boomer executive assistants will be leaving the workforce in about 5 years; the administrative role has shifted tremendously in the past 10 years; and managers are technically savvy and become more independent. You will have to support leaders in a new way and the bar has definitely been raised.
- The need for interpersonal skills is at an all-time high and its prominence will grow. When you look for administrative classes, be sure to seek out these competencies. This role is not just about technical skill. Yes, you need to be tech savvy and learn the numerous programs. Just remember, behind the technology is a person. When you send an email, a person is opening that email. When you leave a voice mail, a person is listening to your message. When you IM, a person is reading it.
Bottom line… if I were interviewing you today, I would not require a certification or even initials after your name. It’s who you are and how you perform on the job. But since the world is now saying this is important, then a professional certification in the administrative profession could serve you well.
What are your thoughts? Do you have an administrative designation or some special type of certification? If so, has it helped you in the workplace? Any suggestions for our readers?