Administrative Assistant

Program Outline

Instruction Sets
Penn Foster Career School’s online Administrative Assistant program consists of nine courses to help you gain the knowledge and skills relevant for performing administrative assistant jobs in a variety of settings - including corporate businesses, law firms, banks, hospitals, and more.

Computer Specifications
As you know this is an online academic program. This means you will need high-speed internet access to begin your program. In addition, you will need access to a Microsoft® Windows® based computer running Windows 7® or later or an Apple® Mac® computer running OS X® or later, and an email account to participate in and complete your program.

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...

  • Describe 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
  • Explain 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
  • List ways to support staff in conducting research, compiling data, and preparing papers for consideration and presentation by executives, committees, and boards of directors
  • Describe how to read, analyze, route, distribute, and answer routine incoming memos, submissions, reports, mail, and email to determine their significance and plan their distribution
  • Explain how to communicate well with others in and out of the office
  • List how fax machines, videoconferencing software, phone systems, and other office equipment work
  • Explain how to create spreadsheets, presentations, reports, messages, databases, and other applications
  • Outline 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
  • Describe how to greet visitors and to decide whether they should be given access to specific individuals
  • Recognize a professional image in an office environment
  • List techniques for managing stress and time in professional ways



Starting Your Program
Succeed by learning how to use your Penn Foster program.


  • Understand how to use your Student Portal.
  • Access the Penn Foster Community and use it to find answers.
  • Connect with Penn Foster on various social media sites.

The Administrative Professional
Administrative professionals are counted on to keep the office running smoothly and efficiently. In this lesson, you’ll receive an introduction to the field.


  • Explain the importance of the role of the administrative professional in today’s workplace.
  • List the skills and abilities needed to achieve success in the administrative professional field.
  • Identify current trends and opportunities for administrative professionals.

Your Professional Image
The image that you project plays a critical role in developing your career. This lesson focuses on what it takes for you to develop and improve your professional image.


  • Identify strategies for developing and enhancing your professional image.
  • Identify resources to assist you in developing and maintaining a professional image.
  • Evaluate your professional image.
  • Write goals and action plans to improve your professional image.

Stress and Time Management
This lesson teaches you how to apply stress-reducing techniques to a tense situation.


  • Identify common stressors and symptoms of stress.
  • Discuss effective stress management coping strategies.
  • Set goals and determine priorities.
  • Establish efficient, effective daily routines.

The Global Workplace
The workplace is constantly changing in this global economy, and this lesson presents the skills, abilities, and new knowledge required to be successful.


  • Create a strong resume and search for job opportunities locally and abroad.
  • Better understand the global workplace and different cultures.
  • Develop a working familiarity with webinars, web conferences, and other forms of communication.
  • Plan and organize an international business trip.

Interpersonal Communication Skills
This lesson is designed to help you develop professional relationships in the workplace.


  • Understand and explain the components of communication, both verbal and nonverbal.
  • Develop effective listening and observation skills.
  • Recognize prejudice in interpersonal relations.
  • Describe personal traits essential for successful interpersonal relations.

Administrative Office Procedures
In this lesson, you’ll learn how to professionally administer and manage office communications and procedures.


  • Understand the important aspects of good human relations.
  • Professionally answer and place telephone calls within an office.
  • Handle incoming and outgoing mail and email.
  • Analyze where your time is spent and identify common time wasters.

Travel and Meeting Planning
This lesson covers an administrative assistant’s role in making travel arrangements, and planning meetings and conventions.


  • Make travel arrangements and generate a travel itinerary.
  • Plan meetings and conventions for your company.

Filing Techniques
In this lesson you’ll learn how to set up, arrange, and maintain a filing system suitable for whatever type of office you’re working in.


  • Group files alphabetically, geographically, numerically, and by subject.
  • Establish and maintain a paper-based and electronic filing system.
  • Identify procedures for handling active, inactive, and permanent files.

Records Management
In this lesson, you’ll learn what a record is in an office environment and how records are managed.


  • Store, track, classify, and retrieve records.
  • Differentiate between centralized and decentralized files.
  • Define and differentiate various types of micrographics.

Math for the Office Professional
This lesson is a review of basic math operations: addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.

  • Calculate discounts and series discounts.
  • Calculate cash discounts and shipping charges.
  • Use a calculator to solve or check math problems.

Technologies in the Workplace
New ways of creating, processing, and communicating information are revolutionizing every aspect of any job. To perform your job effectively and efficiently, you must learn about the technology that’s available in the computerized workplace.


  • Describe major communication technologies and services.
  • Understand the network systems used to communicate information.
  • Navigate office computer systems and identify components used for input and output.

Resources and References
This lesson is designed to teach you how to use resources and references to search for information efficiently and effectively.


  • Compare and contrast various resources available within your organization.
  • Use a dictionary and thesaurus to find information and improve your vocabulary.
  • Find information in libraries and online references.

Business English
This course deals with basic writing skills and grammar, and how to create effective business documents.


  • Learn about business letters, forms, client records, and memos.
  • Understand organization, grammar, punctuation, and sentence and paragraph construction.
  • Develop coherent paragraphs, well-organized documents, and purpose-focused materials.
  • Produce accurate, attractive, and effective final copies.

Computer Applications
This course will allow you to build your computer skills through a combination of reading and hands-on practice while learning Microsoft® Office.


  • Create, edit, and illustrate Microsoft® Word™ documents.
  • Apply formulas and functions to large data sets in Microsoft® Excel.®
  • Incorporate useful charts and graphs to summarize data.
  • Add, delete, sort, and lay out table data.
  • Create presentations in Microsoft® PowerPoint® using advanced tools, tables, and charts.

Supplement: Introduction to Keyboarding

Office Finances
In many offices, employees are expected to handle a variety of bookkeeping tasks, such as keeping a record of payments as they arrive, sending out bills to those who owe money, and making bank deposits.


  • Identify an accounts receivable.
  • Settle a bank statement.
  • Complete the entries for a bank deposit.
  • Understand how computers are used in bookkeeping.

Office Management
Most offices require a manager to keep things running smoothly and efficiently.


  • Plan an effective office layout.
  • Recruit, interview, and motivate employees.
  • Identify legal issues in office management.
  • Use effective oral and written communication skills.

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


  • Work Experience Option
  • Managing a Successful Job Search


Work Experience Option
Upon completion of your program, you’ll have the opportunity to apply the skills you’ve learned in real-life, hands-on situations in an office or business setting through a Work Experience Option. Although this is not required for program completion, the self-arranged Work Experience Option allows you to seek out and gain experience as an Administrative Assistant with an employer near you.


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.

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Apple, Mac, and OS X are trademarks of Apple, Inc. registered in the United States of America and/or other jurisdictions.