Strategies for Advancing Your Career Outside of Administrative Services

My good friend and fellow expert in the administrative field, Julie Perrine, has a saying that goes something like this, “In admin, you can start here and go anywhere!”

Incidentally, if you don’t know Julie, you should. She’ll be at the annual Conference for Administrative Excellence this year and she is an absolute wealth of knowledge and insight.

But back to the point: Being an administrative professional, the world is your oyster. This is a career that can, should you desire, be a fantastic stepping stone into a wide variety of other careers.

Here at Office Dynamics, we focus a lot on those who have chosen administration as their career path. It’s a noble, exciting, ever-evolving world that can be incredibly fulfilling and lucrative. However, it’s not for everyone.

Some people may find that it’s not a good fit. Others may enjoy it for a period of time, but eventually feel called to other fields.

The skills you gain as an administrative professional can easily transfer to other roles. For example, here are a few of the most common roles that may be a great fit for assistants, depending on your skills and interests:

  • Project Manager
  • Event Planner
  • Training Coordinator
  • Virtual Assistant
  • Database Administrator
  • Graphic Designer
  • Human Resources Assistant

Looking at this list, you probably already do many of these things on a daily basis!

So, what are your next steps if you’re currently working as an assistant, but aiming for something different? Well, use your time wisely! Here are some recommendations.

Take on “Future Focused” Projects

As an assistant, you have many opportunities to stretch your skills and try on different “roles.” Take advantage of that by volunteering to own projects that leverage and develop specific skills you’d like to use in the future.

For example, if you’re interested in graphic design, offer to redesign a PowerPoint presentation for your executive, or create a new cover sheet for reports. If you’re interested in database administration, get involved with the database systems at your disposal. Learn how to run reports and queries, or maybe offer to help creating procedures for others to do the same.

Whatever skills you’ll need in your next role, find ways to develop them now. Get creative! But remember you still have to “sell” the idea to your executive, so always identify the value the work offers to the organization. It’s not all about you and your needs.

Note Your Accomplishments

Throughout your career, it’s important to keep a running list of your professional accomplishments. This is a tool you’ll use in many different settings including job interviews and performance reviews.

As you prepare for the next phase of your career, you’ll want to be able to highlight the specific things you achieved using the transferrable skills you’re looking to leverage in the future. This will show others that you have what it takes to do the job, even if you’ve never held that specific title in the past.

Remember: It’s one thing to tell people you can do something. It’s an entirely different thing to show them you’ve done it successfully in the past. Capture those accomplishments now and you’ll use them later.

Get Involved in Professional Associations

Many professional groups allow “outsiders” to attend events, especially if you’re exploring the field as a potential career path. This is a great way to get insider information regarding what it’s like to do the job you’re considering. It’s also useful for making connections! You can get to know people in the field who might be able to help you in a future job search. Having a personal referral can help you overcome the barrier of transitioning from administration to a new field.

Regardless of where you’re going in the future, remember that being an assistant is an important role. Take it seriously and respect your job duties. Don’t get so focused on the future that you let your primary responsibilities fall by the wayside. That can give you (and the administrative field in general) a bad name.

Chrissy Scivicque is a career coach and corporate trainer who believes that work can be a nourishing, enriching part of the life experience. Her website,, is devoted to that mission. You’re invited to join the FREE Eat Your Career Resource Library where you’ll gain immediate access to dozens of tools to advance your professional skills and achieve career fulfillment.

Chrissy also has an amazing book called The Proactive Professional and some incredible ebooks and guides.

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18 thoughts on “Strategies for Advancing Your Career Outside of Administrative Services”

  1. A lot depends on your employer’s ability to see beyond your current role, its willingness to move you around and the support of your supervisor. I’ve been in the admin support role since the late 70’s and have seen very few admins move beyond that role without having additional formal education. I have self-taught myself a lot of things – have forgotten a lot of what I used to know – and all that did was increase my workload, it did not lead me out of the admin role.

    Being an admin professional has given me the opportunity to travel and to experience many different fields and companies, but it has not led to other opportunities outside the field.

  2. This was a very helpful reminder that continuing to stretch and grow has definite rewards, whether you stay in the same position or move into another field. I started a “lunch and learn” series at work and am very surprised at the number of people who have no interest in learning more. They just want to “do their job”. If that’s what they want and they’re happy, more power to them, but I LOVE to stretch and try out new things! I would get so very bored not getting interested in all the new productivity apps and products, books, etc. out there! SO. MUCH. TO, LEARN!! : )

  3. Great article. I love what I do as an Executive Assistant but I have also learned that I enjoy the Human Resources aspects of my job. I am not leaving my EA position yet but may explore doing that in a few years when we move out of California.

  4. Victoria Prestia

    My role is Excel Support. I am working on a project that uses Excel and SharePoint. I learned SharePoint and learning more about Excel.

  5. Thank you for the reminder of tracking your accomplishments.
    I would usually just see them as a task or project completed.
    With my year end personal performance review coming up in the next few weeks, I will be sure to have this list ready, and to discuss it with my managers.

  6. Other roles that admins can fit in include Travel Assistant, Communication Officer, Information Assistant, Facilities Manager, Protocol Assistant. Julie you are right. Being an Admin professional the world is your oyster!

  7. Great article. Especially enjoyed the part about joining Professional Associations in other fields. I’ve never thought of that. I like so very many parts of an Admin that I don’t know if I would transfer to a different field. I love that challenges that I have now. But it may be good to learn and get more involved in the areas that I have special interest in. Thank you!

  8. When I started as Administrative Assistant, it was just a job. I intended to leave the job within the next 5 years; I’ve now been doing the “job” for the last 26 years. It is my profession and I take seriously my responsibility to develop and enhance my skills. I support those who have chosen to move on, but know that for some of us, this is the best place to be!

  9. Yes, this is so true…thank you for the support. You can also organize other administrative teams in your company – hold a lunch brown bag and watch a video/webinar replay from Office Dynamics. Have a speaker from your company come in to discuss an upcoming project, ask other administrative team members what do they wish to learn about? Microsoft products?

    Thank you for the reminder!!!

  10. Thanks Chrissy. This is very true. I’ve worked for mainly small companies and my supervisors noticed my aptitude for numbers. That advanced into the Accounting field. Now I’m rare because I’ve done administrative and accounting. It’s a great asset.

  11. These are some great ideas for thinking about the future, especially when companies and employment can be so unstable these days, thanks!

  12. Wow, this so timely for me. I have been thinking about this lately and discussed it with my husband just last night! Now that I have earned my BS in Business Administration, I feel that I should put it to use and follow a career path away from “clerical support.” I like the suggestion of volunteering for projects outside my scope of work to gain experience and insight into other positions. I believe that keeping a running list of accomplishments is crucial to proving I am able to perform tasks outside the role of administrative assistant.

    Thank you!

  13. Being an administrative assistant helped me advance when I started doing some of the work my boss was doing. We were working on different areas of reports and when I saw that I could do some of his work to decrease his time working on this area I just started adding it on the reports. He really appreciated the initiative I was showing and he started giving me more to do. I was able to advance within my department. I think you have to look for the things you know you can do and keep a great attitude.

  14. Thanks for the reminder to keep track of your professional accomplishments. I don’t always remember and I need to!

  15. This is something that I have really focused on this year. Being an AA since 2001, I’ve been exposed to many different fields that I have become more interested in, specifically HR. At my previous company, I assisted with HR tasks and in my current position, I assist with timekeeping and have recently I applied for an internal HR Generalist position. Of course, I wasn’t selected, but that motivated me to enroll in a basics HR course at my local community college, which is something I’ve wanted to do for some time. At work, I often ask to take on different projects so that I can become familiar with specific software programs. I’m a big believer in professional growth and the many transferable skills that we AAs learn along the way that can take us to another level and help us in our future.

  16. Sharon Chaplain

    I started off as an administrative assistant and went on to office manager. From there, I specialized in payroll then accounting. Now I’m pursuing my MBA in accounting and am in line to supervise the accounting department. Recently, the Controller of the company asked me to assist in some special projects with her, and eventually take over those tasks. I’m excited about where this has all taken me, and how far I’ll be able to go from here also!

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