Administrative Assistant

Program Outline

Instruction Sets
Your accredited online learning program includes 11 Instruction Sets designed to take you step-by-step through the knowledge and skills you’ll employ in your new career as an Administrative Assistant. You receive the first course as soon as your enrollment has been accepted, and other courses will follow as you complete your exams.

Computer Specifications
You will need access to a Microsoft® Windows®-based computer and high-speed Internet in order to complete your program with Penn Foster.

Note: A High School Diploma or GED is required to enroll in this program.

Here is an overview of what you’ll learn and the order in which you’ll access your lessons:

Program Goal and Outcomes

Program Goal: To prepare students for an entry-level career as an administrative assistant.

Program Outcomes:
Upon completion of the program, students will be able to:

  • Understand how to maintain paper and electronic filing systems for records and messages as well as organize files, folders, and schedules in proper order so an office can run efficiently
  • Comprehend how to schedule appointments and make travel arrangements for executives and other staff
  • Recognize how to answer phones, draft messages, write memos and email when communicating with managers, employees, and customers
  • Comprehend how to support staff to conduct research, compile data, and prepare papers for consideration and presentation by executives, committees, and boards of directors
  • Understand how to read, analyze, route, distribute, and answer routine incoming memos, submissions, reports, mail and email to determine their significance and plan their distribution
  • Communicate well with others in and out of the office
  • Understand how fax machines, videoconferencing and phone systems, and other office equipment work
  • Use computers to create spreadsheets, presentations, reports, compose messages, manage databases, and other applications
  • Understand how to negotiate with vendors, buy supplies, manage stockrooms or corporate libraries, and get data from various sources
  • Prepare reports, memos, letters, financial statements, and other documents, using word processing, spreadsheet, or presentation software
  • Know how to greet visitors and determine whether they should be given access to specific individuals
  • Recognize a professional image in an office environment
  • Know how to manage stress and time in professional ways

Instruction Set 1

Starting Your Program
Succeed by learning how to use your Penn Foster program. Understand how to use your Student Portal, including your My Homepage and My Courses pages; access the Penn Foster Community and use it to find answers; and connect with Penn Foster on various social media sites.

The Administrative Professional
Introduction to the field; the administrative professional’s role in the workplace; necessary skills and abilities; workplace trends  and opportunities; professional organizations.

Instruction Set 2

Your Professional Image
Components of a professional image; the link between a professional image and job success; identifying personal strengths and detecting areas for improvement.

Stress and Time Management
Importance of relaxation; developing coping strategies and a stress management program; value of time management; setting goals.

Instruction Set 3

The Global Workplace
Working with clients in countries other than the United States; working as an employee of a foreign firm operating in the U.S.; diversity, international business etiquette, international time zones, international travel.

Interpersonal Communication Skills
The importance of interpersonal skills; effective listening; traits for positive interpersonal relations; oral communication skills, articulation; enunciation and pronunciation; improving speech; interacting with others; non-verbal communication; respecting and working with others.

Instruction Set 4

Administrative Office Procedures
Responsibilities of the office professional; leadership tasks; project coordination; customer relations; business ethics; professionalism.

Travel and Meeting Planning
Using a business traveler profile; various ways of making travel arrangements; differentiating between classes of airfare; business traveler’s itinerary; planning online meetings; planning a convention.

Instruction Set 5

Filing Techniques
Filing according to the Association of Records Managers and Administrators (ARMA International); color-coded filing systems; electronic filing systems; alphabetic filing rules.

Records Management
Handling records; classification of records; records control; electronic records management; archiving technologies.

Math for Office Professionals
Basic math; mean, median, mode, and range; figuring sales tax; markups and markdowns; loan amortization; metric system; foreign currency exchange.

Instruction Set 6

Technologies in the Workplace
Technologies used in today’s workplace; use of the Internet; the virtual office; security and ethical issues;
electronic communications; electronic communication systems.

Resources and References
Standard reference resources; using the Internet for research; mapping; manuals; using directories and libraries.

Internet Basics
Features of the Web; navigating the Web; accessing and sending email; basic research tools and search engines.

Instruction Set 7

Business English
Business letters, forms, client records, and memos; organization, grammar, punctuation, and sentence and paragraph construction; coherent paragraphs, well-organized documents, and purpose-focused materials; accurate, attractive, and effective final copies.

Instruction Set 8

First Steps in Using a Personal Computer
The boot process; launching Microsoft® Windows®; developing mouse skills; Windows® accessories; Windows® programs.

Using Windows®
Learning about Windows® XP, Windows Vista,® and Windows® 7; setting up the Windows® desktop; working with Windows® tools.

Keyboarding and Word Processing
Alphabetic and numeric keys; keying techniques; basic keyboarding skills; improving speed and accuracy.

Textbook: College Keyboarding & Document Processing

Software: College Keyboarding & Document Processing

Instruction Set 9

Advanced Word Processing
Formatting common business documents; basic and advanced word processing functions.

Textbook: Advanced Word Processing

Membership: Student Membership in the International Association of Administrative Professionals® (IAAP)

Instruction Set 10

Integrated Computer Applications
Integrating Microsoft® Word, PowerPoint,® and Excel® to create documents with text, charts and graphs, and clip art, lines, and borders.

Instruction Set 11

Office Finances
Operating income; operating expenses; travel expenses; using technology to handle office finances; banking procedures; maintaining inventory records; understanding financial reports; office finances and ethics.

Office Management
Office planning and layout; selecting office staff; supervising employees; motivating employees; evaluating
employee performance; effective teams in the office; legal issues in office management.

Work Experience Option
Managing a Successful Job Search


Online Library and Librarian
Students in Penn Foster Career School have access to an online library for use during their studies. Students can use this library to do the required research in the courses they complete or can use it for general reference and links to valuable resources. The library contains helpful research assistance, articles, databases, books, and Web links. A librarian is available to answer questions on general research-related topics via email and to assist students in research activities during their studies with Penn Foster Career School International.

We reserve the right to change program content and materials when it becomes necessary.

Microsoft and Windows are trademarks of Microsoft Corporation registered in the United States of America and/or other jurisdictions.

International Association of Administrative Professionals is a trademark registered in the United States of America and/or other jurisdictions.

Pentium is a registered trademark of Intel Corporation and its subsidiaries in the United States and other countries.