If your hearts leaps up at the thought of a well-ordered filing system, meticulous record-keeping and a clean and tidy office space, you are probably well-suited to a career in office administration. The job titles office administrator and office manager are often used almost interchangeably, but there often are differences in the level of seniority of the role and the size of office you are responsible for.
An office administrator often works for a department in a larger organization. She reports to the director or the head of department and meets occasionally with her counterparts in other departments. She may also work for a small business, perhaps with up to 50 employees. An office manager's job is similar, but has greater seniority and responsibility. She typically works for larger organizations and may have staff reporting to her. She reports to the head of operations or possibly the operations or finance director, depending on the structure of the company.
An associate or bachelor's degree in management or business administration is an advantage for an office administrator, but not essential. A secretarial program diploma is the usual entry qualification for this role. An office manager can also have an associate or bachelor's degree in business, management or IT. But, experience is most highly valued for this position. If you have relevant skills and enough work experience, it is possible to get a job as an office manager without a degree
An office administrator serves a team of people, keeping records of their vacation days, sickness, attendance and absence. She ensures that everyone knows how to claim expenses, get supplies and follow other office systems and protocols. Other duties include ordering stationery and making sure that maintenance is carried out on office equipment. She keeps track of invoices, purchase orders and receipts and maintains the condition of the office. Frequently, the office administrator also acts as the personal assistant to the head of department.
The office manager is responsible for developing and implementing new administration systems, such as record management, and for reviewing and updating health and safety policies. She is likely to have a team of staff. She often manages, for example, the reception area, mail room and security personnel. Her role includes recruitment, training and induction of new staff and ensuring adequate cover at all times, using agencies for temporary staff when needed. Managing the booking of meeting rooms and availability of audio-visual equipment is also among her duties. As her job involves looking after the whole office, her budget is significantly larger than that of the office administrator. She may also have to write reports for senior management and deliver presentations on office efficiency.
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