How Much Does an Administrative Assistant Make?

Once known solely as secretaries, administrative assistants are the support staff in an offices who manage files, handle the phone, type documents and keep their bosses organized. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a high school diploma and some on-the-job training are sufficient for an entry-level position. Some administrative assistants may go on for additional education, especially if they want to advance. Salaries vary, according to work setting or industry, location and individual companies.

  1. Major Work Settings

    • The average annual wage for administrative assistants in 2013 was $34,000, according to the BLS. Salaries ranged from $20,370 to $49,370. More administrative assistants worked in elementary and secondary schools -- where the average annual salary was $34,450 -- more than any other work setting in 2013. The next largest group worked in colleges, universities and professional schools, for a slightly higher average annual salary of $36,570. Administrative assistants in local government earned an average of $37,070, while those in employment services earned $32,830. General medical and surgical hospitals employed 62,000 administrative assistants in 2013 and paid an average annual salary of $36,650.

    Top Pay

    • With the exception of the federal executive branch, which employed 18,660 administrative assistants in 2013, the top-paying industries employed substantially fewer administrative assistants, according to the BLS. Administrative assistants in motor vehicle manufacturing earned an average annual salary of $43,340 in 2013, and those who worked for wired telecommunications carriers earned $43,890. The federal executive branch paid an average annual salary of $47,590. Administrative assistants in monetary authorities like central bank settings earned an average of $47,980. The postal service was the top payer of administrative assistants, with an average annual salary of $55,340 in 2013.

    Salaries by Location

    • Administrative assistant salaries were affected by location in 2013, according to the BLS. South Dakota offered the lowest salaries, and administrative assistants in that state earned an average of $26,040 a year. Salaries in the highest-paying states were significantly higher, however. Administrative assistants in California earned an average of $38,260 a year, and those in New Jersey earned $39,540 a year. In Connecticut and Massachusetts, administrative assistants earned average annual salaries of $39,750 and $41,750, respectively. The District of Columbia was the highest-paying location, with an average annual salary of $47,960.

    Business Matters

    • An October 2011 article in “Business Insider” reported data on administrative assistant salaries at individual businesses across the United States. The article found the lowest salary at the University of Pennsylvania, where the average salary was $29,860 a year. In contrast, Stanford University administrative assistants in the high-paying state of California earned $56,551 a year. In non-educational settings, administrative assistants who worked for drug company Pfizer earned $52,426 a year, while those at Citigroup earned $52,800 a year, and those at PricewaterhouseCoopers earned $53,417 a year.

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