Certification Programs for Administrative Professionals

Jen Lawrence
Jen Lawrence

Business Process Consultant focusing on streamlining workflows, optimizing tools, and aligning teams for operational efficiency and effectiveness.

Whether you’re an administrative professional looking for a way to validate your skill set or a manager looking to contribute to your admin’s professional development (thank you, thank you, thank you), certification is the perfect step.

Or maybe you’re just looking to understand certifications. That’s great too! Welcome!

An admin can spend years doing professional development and training to become a badass at what they do. I’ve been there. I’ve taken everything from project management courses to writing workshops. I’ve worked hard to expand my business acumen and build up a toolbox of skills.

However, to be honest…it’s not enough.

As an admin, it’s remarkably difficult to gauge our skills prior to performance on the job. We can fill pages and pages of our resume or LinkedIn to set ourselves apart, listing every skill we claim to have. But honestly, how do you measure someone’s proficiency in office management or business communication? A manager can call for references or give a practical during the interview. This may give a glimmer of what a candidate can actually do but it’s not the full picture.

There is another better way…


Why get certified?

  1. Verification of skills and knowledge level against an industry standard.
  2. A clear indication of administrative intent and commitment.

Becoming a certified administrative professional not only validates skills and experience. It draws a clear line in the sand between “this is my job” and “this is my career”.

So, where do you start?

There are a number of entities out there that offer certification programs for admins, but there are three in particular that I’m a fan of due to their range and depth of knowledge requirements. The programs below are comprehensive and from large, well-known administrative organizations. The curriculum and standards have been perfected over the years, but even better, encourage continued feedback and modification from admins around the world to ensure they are up to date.

Start with the three programs below. Each program assesses varying areas of expertise and requires a different financial and time investment. Find what works best for you and go for it!

JLAS Get Certified

International Association of Administrative Professionals
Certified Administrative Professional (CAP)

The Certified Administrative Professional designation is earned by passing a rigorous exam. The exam assesses proficiency in organizational communication, business writing and document production, technology and information distribution, office and records management, event and project management, and operational functions (including finance and human resources). You must apply and be approved to take the exam. Testing and certification are offered during two windows per calendar year. Cost varies based on IAAP membership. Continuing education is required to maintain certification and additional specialty designations in Organizational Management, Project Management, and Technology Applications are available.

The American Society of Administrative Professionals
Professional Administrative Certification of Excellence (PACE)

The Professional Administrative Certification of Excellence is earned by passing an online exam. The exam fee is all-inclusive of study materials and testing, including up to three opportunities to pass without an additional fee. Even better, results are known immediately. The certification covers interpersonal communication, task and project management, management skills, and computer and internet technology. Continuing education is required for recertification every two years.

Office Dynamics International
World Class Assistant

World Class Assistant is a three-day in-person training program that results in certification. Participants cover a range of valuable materials, including building a strategic partnership, leveraging communication for business success, growing the resilience skill set, and 360-degree awareness. Of the three highlighted certifications, this program has the greatest emphasis on soft skills.

While you’re at it, join these organizations’ mailing lists and sign up for membership. They offer invaluable ongoing development resources that you won’t want to miss!

If you’re a manager, I highly recommend adding membership to one of these organizations as a benefit to your administrative staff – up front. Don’t wait for your employee to ask. Proactively signing them up for membership shows you care about their future and value their contributions to your organization. If you’re feeling particularly generous, send them to a conference too!

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