Key to the smooth running of the majority of organisations, there's more to being an administrative assistant than you might think. Discover the responsibilities and salaries different administration jobs can offer

Bid writer

You'll prepare documents used to pitch for contracts or project funding. Salaries usually begin at around £25,000, with experienced bid writers commanding upwards of £70,000.

You'll spend much of your working day identifying potential business opportunities and conversing with clients, before designing, writing, editing and submitting bids.

Some employers expect entry-level applicants to have a Bachelors degree. Bid writers who prepare pitches for international funding may also benefit from speaking a second language.

Bookkeeper

Also referred to as accounts clerks or payroll administrators, bookkeepers ensure that an organisation's financial records are kept up to date. On average, you'll earn between £17,000 and £26,000 per year as a bookkeeper.

Duties include preparing wages, managing expense claims, completing VAT returns, checking the accuracy of accounts and dealing with income, payments, receipts and sales invoices.

Entry-level applicants often have A-levels in mathematics, economics and/or business studies, while professional qualifications in accounts or bookkeeping are also highly sought-after by employers.

Credit controller

Often referred to as debt collection agents, credit controllers help organisations to retrieve money that is owed to them. They can work for a third-party debt collection agency or a company's finance department, and earn between £16,000 and £30,000 per year.

Typical tasks include checking credit records and tracing missing debtors, drawing up repayment plans, working with debt counsellors and launching legal proceedings if debts go unpaid.

Any experience of an office environment will be extremely useful, especially if it's within an accounts or customer service department. A professional qualification in accounts or bookkeeping would also be beneficial, or you could begin your credit control career by doing an apprenticeship.

HR adminstrator

Working in human resources (HR) as an administrator, you'll be responsible for managing employee happiness and satisfaction. This involves taking general enquiries from staff, updating personal information, holiday and sickness records, setting up continuing professional development (CPD) training and events for employees and organising and chairing meetings.

You'll typically earn between £15,000 and £22,000 as an HR administrator. There's no set path into the role, meaning you won't need a degree, although you could increase your chances of finding a job by completing a college course or apprenticeship approved by the Chartered Institute of Professional Development (CIPD), the sector's professional body.

Find out more about how to get a job in HR.   

Immigration officer

Sometimes known as border force officers, immigration officers impose immigration and customs regulations at UK entry points such as ports and airports, ensuring that people are legally allowed to enter and remain in the country. They usually command a salary between £21,500 and £36,000.

Day-to-day tasks include:

  • checking passports travel documents and work permits
  • searching people, luggage and vehicles
  • interviewing and taking the fingerprints of those entering the UK
  • working alongside the police on major criminal cases.

Entry requirements are fairly rigid. You must have lived in the UK for at least five years previous, gained security clearance and, in some cases, passed a medical examination and/or obtained a driving licence. Budding immigration officers, especially those participating in anti-smuggling operations at sea, can improve their chances of success by learning a second language.

Medical secretary

Earning an average of £16,500 to £27,000 per year, medical secretaries provide office support in GP surgeries, hospitals and private clinics.

To secure a job as a medical secretary you'll need GCSEs in English and maths, a word processing qualification (along with excellent keyboard skills) and knowledge of medical language. You'll also have to pass a background check.

Responsibilities include:

  • managing a waiting list of patients
  • dealing with confidential information and updating patient records
  • typing letters and clinical reports
  • sending samples for testing
  • managing a doctor's diary
  • dealing with questions from patients and medical staff.

The work is office-based, Monday to Friday, although doctors' surgeries may allocate working hours on a rota basis.

Personal assistant

Otherwise known as a PA or executive assistant, and earning on average £18,000 to £50,000 a year with experience, as a personal assistant you'll deal with enquiries for your manager, as well as book meetings, travel arrangements and greet and look after visitors. In some roles, you'll take on managerial responsibilities and be involved in decision-making processes.

The role may be stressful at times and involves a high level of contact with people, both inside and outside the organisation you work for. The role is open to all graduates, however an HND or undergraduate degree related to business and/or management will improve your chances.

Learn more about the role of a personal assistant.

Registrar

This role involves recording births, deaths, marriages and civil partnerships. You'll typically earn between £17,000 and £48,000 per year, and be employed by a local authority.

Duties include:

  • interviewing parents and relatives after a birth or death
  • issuing birth or death certificates
  • informing the coroner of any suspicious circumstances surrounding a death
  • performing ceremonies such as marriages, civil partnerships and civil funerals.

Registrars must possess strong skills in IT, public speaking and customer service. The role can be secured via an apprenticeship, and is often the result of a promotion from the position of deputy registrar.

School secretary

You'll provide administrative support to ensure the school day runs smoothly, and typically earn a salary of between £15,250 and £19,500.

Working at a state or private school, your tasks will include:

  • keeping paper and electronic records up to date
  • ordering resources and pay invoices
  • greeting visitors, ensuring they have the correct means of identification
  • acting as the main point of contact between parents and the school
  • scheduling appointments
  • drafting, typing and sending emails and letters.

To get a job as a school secretary it's useful to have GCSEs in maths and English, previous office experience and computer literacy. A first aid qualification may come in useful. You'll also need to undergo a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check.

Telephonist

Also referred to as a switchboard operator, a telephonist answers and connects calls. They usually earn between £12,000 and £24,000 per year.

Day-to-day tasks vary by role, because this function is often combined with other administrative duties. However, telephonists will almost always use a switchboard system, update directories, take and pass on messages, and test lines and report faults.

You'll need strong IT skills and must have previous administrative experience. Many further education colleges offer courses in call centre and customer service techniques - having professional qualifications can be extremely helpful when looking for jobs.

Town planning assistant

As a town planning assistant you'll be responsible for planning and writing reports, carrying out data surveys for planning applications and building and managing technical libraries and databases.

Average salaries for town planning assistants start at £16,000, reaching £30,000 with experience.

You'll typically need GCSEs and A-levels in related subjects such as geography, economics and graphic design to apply for jobs directly. Otherwise, entry routes include completing a degree accredited by The Royal Town Planning Institute, or an apprenticeship in town planning technical support.

With experience, you could progress to the role of town planner.

Typist

Earning an average of £14,000 to £24,000 per year, typists produce letters, reports and other documents.

Duties usually include copy typing, audio typing, shorthand typing, answering the telephone, using office equipment and dealing with emails.

You'll therefore require strong skills in IT, as well as existing experience of an office environment. Some employers prefer applicants to have a recognised qualification in business administration, though apprenticeships in this role are also widely available.

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