Administrative career options include office manager, executive assistant, administrative assistant, and receptionist

Which Administrative Role is Right for You?

Career Comparison: Office Manager, Executive Assistant, Administrative Assistant, and Receptionist

Administrative support personnel such as office managers, administrative assistants, and executive assistants fulfill a vital role in organizations across nearly all industries. The professionals who fill these important clerical jobs ensure that offices run smoothly and many operations simply could not function without them.

Although administrative professionals serve a critical purpose in business, as an occupation its growth has nearly stalled. In fact, opportunities for office workers are only expected to increase by approximately 3% through 2024. If you are on the fence about pursuing a career in administration, you should know that certain roles are in higher demand than others. However, the harder-to-find clerical jobs are usually more lucrative.

Read on to learn more about what it takes to be an office manager, executive assistant, administrative assistant, and receptionist as well as the outlook for each of these positions.


Office manager career snapshot infographic

Office Manager Job Description:

The office manager is usually a more senior administrative role, requiring previous experience and possibly an associate’s or bachelor’s degree (most of the time a high school diploma is all that is needed, however). These professionals provide support for the entire office and coordinate all necessary services and related activities. In other words, the office manager’s job description is to keep things running as efficiently as possible. Other duties include:

  • Managing the reception area (if there is one) and handling telephone and mail communications
  • Ordering supplies and monitoring inventory of office equipment
  • Supervising equipment maintenance and facility housekeeping activities
  • Serving as point of contact for vendors

Office managers may also plan company social functions, fulfill certain HR responsibilities, perform accounting duties, and generally work as a Jack (or Jane) of all trades.


Executive assistant career snapshot infographic

Executive Assistant Job Description:

The executive assistant is another upper-level role that requires previous experience and may also necessitate higher education. They usually provide support to a single executive or a small group of senior leaders. The executive assistant’s job description includes a number of complex tasks such as desktop publishing, report generation, and presentation preparation, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Executive assistants are also in charge of:

  • Drafting memos, letters, and correspondence
  • Attending high-level meetings, taking notes, and disseminating meeting minutes
  • Tracking and monitoring expenses
  • Handling travel schedules, making appointments, organizing meetings, and planning business trips

As more senior members of a company’s administrative team, executive assistants may also supervise clerical personnel in other departments or associates who work for other executive team members.


Administrative assistant career snapshot infographic

Administrative Assistant Job Description:

The most common clerical job is administrative assistant. These dedicated individuals can be tasked with supporting one department, an entire company, a small group of senior leaders, or a single executive. It all depends on the size of the business and the way their organizational chart is structured. Administrative assistants perform a wide range of tasks such as preparing presentations, and drafting correspondence and other reports. They are also often tasked with proofreading copy for spelling, grammar, and overall clarity/accuracy as necessary. Other duties include:

  • Keeping track of expenses and controlling documentation for corporate credit card expenses
  • Establishing and maintaining filing system(s) to ensure proper management of large volumes of information
  • Answering phone calls, addressing inquiries from customers/vendors, and sorting/distributing mail
  • Handling travel schedules and making appointments, organizing meetings/conferences, and planning business trips

One of an administrative assistant’s most important duties is to serve as a liaison with other departments and external agencies/resources. Even though the median salary isn’t as high as an executive assistant’s or office manager’s compensation, the volume of opportunities for administrative assistants make it an attractive career option.


Receptionist career snapshot infographic

Receptionist Job Description:

Most often an entry-level role, receptionists act as the face of the organization. They are the first point of contact for customers, vendors, and other visitors, where they greet individuals and direct them to the proper department or destination. Stellar customer service is key, as receptionists spend most of their time answering telephones, fielding questions, responding to various requests, transferring callers to the correct resource, and/or providing necessary information such as company address, directions to the building, website URL, phone/fax number, and other appropriate contact information. Receptionists also:

  • Take and disseminate messages for personnel
  • Receive, sort, and deliver incoming mail; coordinate outgoing mail as needed
  • Assist in managing and replenishing stock of office supplies
  • Help with preparing photocopies, faxing, and filing as necessary

As a lower-level position, receptionists do not command a very high salary. However, similar to administrative assistants, there are many opportunities for friendly, well-organized, and results-oriented professionals who are looking to get into the administrative field.


If you think your future lies in administration, check out iHireAdmin to search for these and other clerical roles.


Data on volume of job openings in the administrative field is proprietary and exclusive to iHire.

Source for salary data:

by: Freddie Rohner, iHire
July 17, 2017

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