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Personal assistant: Training

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Training takes place mainly on the job. Experienced secretaries may supervise new entrants until they are competent in the work. Larger companies may provide an induction course, lasting a few days, to introduce you to the various areas of the business. They may also provide short courses in areas such as:

  • word processing and database or spreadsheet software packages;
  • industry procedures and business protocol;
  • health and safety;
  • first aid;
  • shorthand and effective minute taking.

In smaller companies, you will usually have to do training in your own time and on your own initiative, although employers may be willing to pay for relevant courses.

It is possible to undertake part-time study while you are working. The following organisations offer relevant qualifications, which can normally be studied over one or two years:

It is also possible to take a business administration degree course.

Membership of professional bodies such as the Institute of Administrative Management (IAM)  or the Association of Personal Assistants (APA)  is also useful. The former professional body for administrators, the Institute of Professional Administrators (IPA), has been aligned with the IAM since January 2012. This is to reflect the career aims of its members who increasingly want to move into management and now have more responsibility for managing people.

The IAM is now the leading professional body for business leaders, administration managers and professional administrators. See the IAM website for information on membership, events, online training courses and details of endorsed qualifications, such as the Level 4 Diploma in Administrative Management, available from relevant awarding bodies.

The APA runs a range of training courses aimed at new and experienced PAs and provides information and advice to members.

Written by AGCAS editors
July 2012

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