Administrative assistant

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John works for a company who manufacture solar heating systems for houses, schools and offices. He provides administrative support to the technical team which is responsible for dealing with customer queries and solving faults.

What support do you provide?

When a potential customer asks for a quotation I arrange for the premises to be surveyed. I am also the first point of contact for technical queries and fault reports and I have to ensure that these can be resolved without delay.

How do you organise this?

I have to make sure that sufficient technical staff are available throughout the country to be on hand if an emergency occurs. I also have to monitor incoming service calls and allocate the people to deal with them. Sometimes, I can help customers directly if I know the answers. It is also part of my job to organise and hold seminars for potential clients and agents, and I assist in giving presentations and providing technical literature as required.

How did you get into this work?

I started as a sales support administrator where I was providing services to the sales force, such as organising literature and allocating their contacts. When I got my degree in physics I was offered a similar post with this company but supporting the technical team as well.

Do you receive training?

I received technical knowledge and sales theory training in the first few weeks. Technical training is ongoing, when necessary, and I keep an eye on technologies that interest me.

What hours do you work?

Generally I work 8.30 a.m to 4.30 p.m. with half-an-hour for lunch. Sometimes, I may need to put in extra hours to complete an assignment on time, or meet clients, for instance.

What is the main advantage of your job?

The best thing is that I am working in a relatively new industry and am getting to know a lot of technical information about solar energy. What skills and qualities are needed for your job? A good telephone manner is essential, as is the ability to discuss technical problems with people who have little technical knowledge. In this particular job, personal time keeping and prioritising work is a must, as there is no one else keeping track of my work.

What qualifications do you need to be an administrative assistant

  • GCSEs
  • A levels
  • Degree in physics
  • Work experience in sales team support

How to become an administrative assistant tips

  • If your chosen line of work requires further education, choose a course that offers the skills you need plus those which are transferable in case your plans change.
  • Gain work experience in your chosen field before completing your education.
  • Work placements can lead to rewarding careers and can help pay for course fees.

Administrative assistant related jobs

  • Customer services assistant/manager
  • Energy and environmental engineer
  • Energy and environmental engineering technician
  • Engineering maintenance technician Sales assistant Store owner/manager

Salary of an Administrative assistant

  • Salaries for new entrants will depend upon their training and qualifications.
  • The starting salary for new entrants with some technical background and relevant NVQs/SVQs would be from around £14,000 up to £16,000 with a degree. With experience, salaries will rise to £20,000.

How do i become an Administrative assistant

  • Higher-level qualifications, such as degrees or HNDs, can lead to better chances of promotion and higher salaries.
  • Technical experience, coupled with relevant NVQs/SVQs, BTEC and other work-related qualifications plus good product knowledge, are useful starting points.
  • Customer care experience means that a technical support person may be well placed to make a career in technical sales.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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