The support services industry is one of the largest job providers in the U.S. economy. A company’s support services encompass many parts of the organization. Typical responsibilities of workers in this field include performing and coordinating office activities in an efficient manner—for example, planning and scheduling meetings, managing projects, and conducting research. Support services staff also store, retrieve, and integrate information in a variety of ways to distribute throughout the organization and among its clients. In fact, as technology continues to advance, support services workers will increasingly assume the roles of information and communication managers.
Occupations in this pathway include secretaries (legal, medical, and executive), administrative assistants, and administrative services managers. Major employers include federal, state, and local government agencies; business management companies; universities, colleges and schools; hospitals; and law offices. Approximately 9 out of 10 administrative assistants and secretaries work in service-providing industries, such as education, government, and healthcare. Others work for firms engaged in manufacturing or construction.
Education and training for jobs in this pathway range from high school technical/career programs to one- and two-year programs in office technology offered by technical and two-year colleges. Many temporary placement agencies also provide formal training. In addition, executive secretaries and others working closely with top executives are more competitive if they earn a college degree.
Certification requirements include proficiency in office skills, which is available through organizations such as the International Association of Administrative Professions, National Association of Legal Secretaries (NALS), Inc., and Legal Secretaries International, Inc. Other certifications include the Certified Professional Secretary (CPS) and the Certified Administrative Professional (CAP), which can be gained by meeting experience and education requirements and passing an examination.