Online Administrative Assistant Training | Penn Foster Career School

Administrative Assistant Training

Why Penn Foster Career School?

  • Regionally & Nationally Accredited
  • Self-Paced
  • Supportive
  • Low monthly payments

Online Program Overview

In many sectors of business and industry, companies are finding a need for skilled administrative assistants. You can complete Penn Foster Career School's Administrative Assistant Career Diploma program in as little as five months, learning the skills that can help you get started on your career path. Study online, on your own schedule, and at a pace that's right for you.

At no additional cost, students in the Penn Foster Career School Administrative Assistant Program qualify for a membership in the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP), a renowned nonprofit organization that provides education resources and leadership development to administrative professionals. Plus, this program includes a Work Experience Option, which allows you to gain field experience relative to your program and career goals.

Curriculum Details

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

Unit 1

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.

Unit 2

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.

Unit 3

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.

Unit 4

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.

Unit 5

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.

Unit 6

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.

Unit 7

Business English

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


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

Unit 8

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.
Additional Unit Material

Supplement: Introduction to Keyboarding

Unit 9

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)

Additional Unit Materials


  • Work Experience Option
  • Managing a Successful Job Search

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, Microsoft® Office 365, and an email account to participate in and complete your program.

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.

Transfer Credits & Graduate Sooner!

In addition to training in administrative assistant duties, students can receive advanced academic credit for Business English, Computer Basics, and Microsoft® Office within this program. Learn more about our transfer credit policy.

Sample Lesson

To view an Administrative Assistant sample lesson, click here.

Administrative Assistant Training Program Details

In Penn Foster Career School’s Administrative Assistant online program, you'll cover topics such as:

State Licensing Information

Licensing and/or certification requirements for jobs in this field are not the same in every state and may include educational, testing, and/or experiential requirements beyond those offered by your Penn Foster Program. You should contact the state professional licensing board or similar regulatory body in the state(s) where you plan to work to determine their requirements before enrolling in your Program. Please click here for contact information for state licensing/regulatory boards and certain industry licensing information.

administrative assistant courses online

Administrative Assistants can work for corporate businesses, law firms, banks, hospitals, and doctors' offices. Here are a few qualities that efficient administrative assistants have in common:

  • Sociable: Spending time with others is fun and rewarding.
  • Detail oriented: It’s important to have a sharp eye and check things twice.
  • Affable: You make others feel welcome and relaxed in potentially stressful situations.
  • Reliable: Employers can rely on you to work hard and perform consistently.

Even though I have been in the secretarial/administrative assistant field for almost 25 years, I still gained a good deal of skills from this program. The content of the programs is comprehensive and well worth the expense.

- Mary T., Administrative Assistant Student

Penn Foster is great because you can work at your own pace and in the comfort of your own home. It really helps out when you have kids and a full-time job to be able to do it all from home. I also plan on enrolling in the Human Resources Management Degree Program from Penn Foster College.

- Chrissy T., Administrative Assistant Student

Your program includes:

  • Customized payment plans with 0% interest
  • Books, learning aids, and membership in the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP) included
  • Goal-setting and progress-tracking tools
  • Instructional support from our experienced faculty
  • Access 24/7 to Penn Foster’s online community, plus immediate membership in the Administrative Assistant academic group
  • Your personalized online student homepage and learning portal
  • Additional resources such as our online library and career guidance from Career Cruising

What is the IAAP®?

The IAAP® (International Association of Administrative Professionals) is the world’s largest organization for administrative professionals, and offers professional development, leadership training and networking opportunities. Membership is included in your tuition.

Can I transfer previously earned credits to the Penn Foster Career School Administrative Assistant Career Diploma program?

Yes, may be able to receive advanced academic credit for some courses within the program, which means you can move through your curriculum faster and earn your certificate or diploma sooner. Learn more about our transfer credit policy.

More FAQs >

¹ Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Secretaries and Administrative Assistants, on the Internet here. Statistics found in the United States Department of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook are based on national data, so job growth in your area may be different.

Find us on Google+