Administrative assistant certifications mean that you have the skills and knowledge to do the job. It also means that you should be more competitive in the job market.
Administrative assistant certification programs are available online, in-person, and on campus. They teach how to use technology, manage their time, and other important aspects of the job.
I’m going to be honest with you. I didn’t really know these certifications were “a thing” for until just a few years ago.
So, I’m going to explore the world of the administrative assistant certifications with you!
Types of Administrative Assistant Certifications
Administrative assistants are in high demand these days. There are many types of certification available for them to choose from.
Here are some of the most popular certifications that administrative assistants should consider:
IAAP’s Certified Administrative Professional (CAP). They designed this certification for those who provide administrative support to small businesses, or the people in their employ.
Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) – This certification is designed for those who work in a healthcare setting and need to have a strong knowledge of medical terminology and health care laws.
Certified Medical Office Manager (CMOM) – This certification is for those who work in a healthcare setting and need to have firm knowledge of office management practices and medical terminology.
Cost of the Administrative Assistant Certificates vs Salary Expectation
Administrative assistants are a critical component of any company. They are the ones who interact with clients, schedule meetings, and keep things running smoothly.
While there is an expectation that administrative assistants will be proficient in Microsoft Office, there is no formal certification for the position.
Let’s cover a few of the major administrative assistant certifications and administrative support certifications. I’m going to look at the Certified Administrative Professional (CAP), Professional Administrative Certification of Excellence (PACE), Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA), Certified Medical Office Manager (CMOM) certifications.
Certified Administrative Professional Cost and Salary potential
The Certified Administrative Professional (CAP) certification is a professional credential that is earned by passing the CAP exam by the International Association of Administrative Professionals.
To take the exam, it costs $375 for members ($150/annually for membership) and $575 for non members with annual recertification.
The CAP certification helps administrative professionals improve their skills, stand out, and advance in their careers. It offers a way for administrative professionals to distinguish themselves from other candidates, including those with college degrees.
However, you do not need a certification in order to be an administrative support professional. I haven’t taken the exam, and only recently was aware it even existed.
In my mind, certifications help to justify your ability when you lack experience. My personal recommendation would be if you’re new in the administrative field, this certification might be more beneficial to you.
This certification is mostly for those of us looking to work as an administrative assistant, secretary, or executive assistant. The May 2020 average income for these roles was $$40,990 per year ($19.71 per hour).
There is no guarantee that your next company will recognize or know what this certification is, much less how it could be beneficial other than what they can glean from the title.
Professional Administrative Certification of Excellence (PACE) and Salary Expectation
Very similar to the CAP is the Professional Administrative Certification of Excellence (PACE).
From the pricing to the major selling points, they gear this certification towards those of you interested in pursuing a role as an administrative assistant, secretary, or executive assistant.
The Administrative Society of Administrative Professionals (ASAP) runs the Professional Administrative Certification of Excellence (That is one cool acronym).
ASAP also helped you do a little of your homework if you’re trying to figure out the differences between taking the CAP or the PACE. They put together a comparison sheet for you.
It’s helpful to point out that the certification requires recertification – just like the CAP. I will say, based on the sheet, PACE seems to make it easier to take classes and the exam.
Just like the CAP, the PACE is $375.
This certification again is for the administrative assistants, secretaries, and executive assistants. Therefore, the May 2020 average income for these roles was $40,990 per year ($19.71 per hour) as well.
Again, there is no guarantee that your next company will recognize or know what this certification is, much less how it could be beneficial other than what they can glean from the title.
Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA)
They designed medical administrative assistant certification for those who work in a healthcare setting and need to have a strong knowledge of medical terminology and health care laws.
Now, my first impression is that the pay, perks, and respect would be higher because there is a medical aspect to the position. Let’s dig in and see what I find.
The Certified Medical Administrative Assistant exam costs $117. To my surprise, you don’t need a certification in order to work as a medical administrative assistant.
Less. LESS! Wow.
I didn’t expect that medical administrative assistants, earn less than non-medical administrative assistants.
So much for my assumptions.
After learning more information, it seems the certification isn’t a requirement, but is more likely used as a hiring benchmark for the company. Also, if you have no experience, it could help to show that your commitment to the industry and knowledgeable.
Again, there is no guarantee that your next company will hire you if you have this certification.
Certified Medical Office Manager (CMOM) and Salary Expectations
The Medical Office Manager certification is for those who work in a healthcare setting and need to have strong knowledge of office management practices and medical terminology.
Okay, the word “manager” made it in the title. Let’s hope this path is a little more financially fulfilling.
One of the most reputable institution the Project Management Institute, which offers to train you (instructor-led or online anytime training) and includes an exam attempt for $999.
Yep. $999. Man, the salary for this job better be good.
This certification is not required in order to work as a medical office manager, though it seems some companies may require some form of medical administrative certification.
Now, for the salary.
According to Zippia, the average medical office manager’s salary is $51,000 annually or $24.86 hourly. However, the entry level salary is $38,000 annually.
If it’s more likely that you’ll earn $51k a year, that seems like a pretty great deal. However, keep in mind that it took me years to see anything close to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ average salary for an administrative assistant.
I’m really disappointed but not surprised by the outcome.
Most of these certifications seem to be helpful to those with absolutely no experience in administrative support. However, if you have experience, you’re not really getting your money’s worth.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not criticizing the courses, certifications, or the organizations putting together these certifications. I’m sure for they contain helpful information regardless, or regardless of experience.
But I know also that most companies are not paying attention to administrative assistant certifications or understand their value, so it’s harder for the certification to give you the boost you want.
The reality of the situation is most administrative roles are seen as expendable, and an “easy” job. Finding people not in the industry can simply find it difficult to recognize our value, experience, and contributions.
Having said that, get whatever certifications you want! It’s your life, and it could never hurt you. Just don’t base your future career success solely on the certificate. Consider it more of a buffer.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Secretaries and Administrative Assistants,at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/office-and-administrative-support/secretaries-and-administrative-assistants.htm (visited February 19, 2022).
- Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Medical Assistants,at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-assistants.htm (visited February 13, 2022).