Program Spotlight: Administrative Assistant

Professionals perform standard and sophisticated support tasks in organizations

The Administrative Assistant program at Dakota County Technical College prepares you for employment in administrative support at a range of companies, businesses, corporations, nonprofits and other organizations. As a student in this program, you will use computer systems for document processing and file-management tasks. As a graduate, you will have earned either a 60-credit Executive Administrative Specialist A.A.S. or a 39-credit Administrative Assistant diploma.

The curriculum teaches the expertise you need to create and edit documents, spreadsheets, databases, electronic presentations and Internet navigation research. Administrative assistants may be called on to communicate, organize, coordinate and integrate data.

This is the ideal major if you’re seeking professional development and/or ways to advance your career. The Administrative Assistant program also gives you an opportunity to obtain Microsoft Certification via required certification classes, including:

  • Certification Basics: Word | ADMS 1260 | 3 credits
  • Certification Basics: Excel | ADMS 1265 | 3 credits
  • Certification Basics: PowerPoint | ADMS 1275 | 3 credits
  • Certification Basics: Outlook | ADMS 1041 | 3 credits

“The role of an administrative assistant is not what it used to be,” said Amy Evanson, administrative assistant faculty. “As the workplace has changed, the responsibilities of an administrative assistant have followed. More and more, the administrative assistant is taking on a broader wealth of responsibilities, from event planning, marketing, communication, to customer service and so on.”

Amy added that DCTC and her program have done a great job providing students with up-to-date information—especially regarding technology—for the administrative assistant role, which is one critical piece to success in the workplace.

“I’m excited that our program is launching a degree redesign fall semester 2020,” Amy said. “We will be offering different class requirements for the Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) in Executive Administrative Specialist. This redesign reflects the broad scope of tasks professional administrative assistants perform in the workplace.”

Typical Work Tasks

People who work in this career often:¹

  • Enter information into databases or software programs.
  • Operate computers or computerized equipment.
  • Search files, databases or reference materials to obtain needed information.
  • Execute sales or other financial transactions.
  • Issue documentation or identification to customers or employees.
  • Route mail to correct destinations.
  • Send information, materials or documentation.
  • Report maintenance or equipment problems to appropriate personnel.
  • Prepare documentation for contracts, transactions, or regulatory compliance.
  • Prepare informational or reference materials.

Administrative assistant skills and qualifications:²

Performing their various duties requires administrative assistants to exhibit many varied skills and qualifications. At its core, the administrative assistant is a support position, meaning that communications and decision-making are paramount. A few of the specific skills that all administrative assistants should possess include:

  • Decision-making: Administrative assistants have to make independent decisions on a daily basis, addressing the best way to handle specific tasks.
  • Communications and collaboration: An administrative assistant must collaborate with other administrators and support personnel, management and clients on a regular basis.
  • Organizational skills: Organization and prioritization are the core elements of the administrative assistant’s responsibilities. You must know how to keep yourself and others organized and how to determine which tasks are the most important in a given list.
  • Writing: Spelling, punctuation, sentence structure and writing are essential to an administrative assistant, who must be proficient in a variety of styles, from creative to professional to technical to education and more.

Graduate perspective: Abigail Anderson

Abigail Anderson

Abigail Anderson, 22, of Farmington, Minnesota, graduated from DCTC in 2019 an A.A.S. in Executive Assistant. Abigail was an exceptionally active student beyond the classroom, participating in Phi Theta Kappa, Campus Lions Club, Student Senate (secretary) and the college’s Budget Committee. She was also a student ambassador.

Abigail is also certified in Microsoft Office Word 2016, PowerPoint 2016 and Excel 2019. She received a certificate of completion from the Career Leadership Academy.

Before enrolling at DCTC, Abigail attended the Saint Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists her freshman and sophomore years. She graduated from Minnesota Connections Academy in 2015.

Abigail completed an internship as an administrative assistant in Academic Affairs at DCTC. She now works as a student life assistant at the college. Her key duties include event planning, helping maintain cleanliness in the Student Life Center, and providing information to students, staff and guests with questions.

In her free time, Abigail enjoys organizing and hanging out with her dog, a miniature schnauzer named Boo.

Three words that describe you as a professional in your career:

How did your education at DCTC help you launch or enhance your career?

“My education at DCTC helped me learn skills that I will use in future jobs. Specifically, the knowledge of how to use Microsoft Office Suite products. Also, having the opportunity to be a student worker while studying  at DCTC gave my current employers a view into my abilities as a worker prior to them offering me a job at DCTC after I graduated.”

Graduate perspective: Anna Voight

Anna Voight

Anna Voight began her DCTC experience in 2007 as a Post-Secondary Enrollment Options (PSEO) student in the Executive Assistant program. The following year, she became a home-school graduate. She went on to earn her Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) from DCTC with a 3.9 GPA. As a DCTC student, Anna was recognized with the Dave Schroeder Outstanding Student Award. She made the President’s List and received the 2009 President’s Coin of Excellence.

Anna served as a student worker in the Office Careers area and had a fantastic experience in the Executive Assistant program. She also got involved in Student Life activities and served as campus liaison for the Student Senate. She founded Christians on Campus at DCTC and joined the Multicultural Student Leadership Association. She served as a student ambassador on the recommendation of her executive assistant instructor, Charlotte Kodner.

After earning her A.A.S. degree, Anna continued to follow Charlotte’s advice. She remained at DCTC and completed the Minnesota Transfer Curriculum (MnTC) while navigating a 2+2 Distance Learning program at Southwest Minnesota State University. She earned her Bachelor of Applied Science (B.A.S.) in Management from SMSU in 2011. She earned her Master of Arts (M.A.) in Educational Leadership from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota in 2018.

Anna began her professional career at DCTC as a student life intern. She went on to serve as an administrative assistant in Nano-Link, an NSF-funded program. She was then hired as the assistant director of student life and activities, serving from January 2012 to November 2016 when she took on her current role as associate director of student life.

Originally from Farmington, Minnesota, Anna has four brothers, Joel, Nathan, Daniel and Abram, and one sister, Rebekah. Her sister, two of her brothers, and three sisters-in law also attended Dakota County Technical College.

When she’s not working in Student Life, Anna enjoys spending time with her nieces, nephews and friends. She also enjoys going to country music concerts, reading, organizing things and playing with her dog, a Shih Tzu-Lhaso Apso mix named Lacy.

How did your education at DCTC help you launch or enhance your career?

“The DCTC Executive Assistant program provided me with indispensable skills to succeed in the workplace in an administrative assistant role and beyond. I not only learned the technical skills of using computer software, proofreading and formatting documents, but I also learned how to problem-solve, collaborate with others to complete projects, and use my newly acquired skills to benefit the community through service learning.

“My instructors in the program taught me life skills such as the importance of first attempting to solve problems on my own before asking for help, learning to adapt to change, pushing myself out of my comfort zone, and maintaining a positive attitude. I graduated from the program in 2009, and 11 years and multiple jobs later, I still use the skills I learned in the program every day.

“The education I received through this program helped me secure an administrative assistant position at DCTC upon graduating. With time, I have now held two additional roles at DCTC with increasing responsibility. The skills I learned in this program are what helped me advance in my organization to roles beyond administrative support.

“Since graduating from DCTC I also received bachelor and master’s degrees from other institutions. If I had to start my education over and pick only one college and one program to attend, I would pick DCTC and the Administrative Assistant program without hesitation. It has been the best education I have received in my life to date, and I would not trade it for anything.

“I would highly recommend this program to anyone, even if they aren’t sure if they want to be an administrative assistant for the rest of their career. Being an administrative assistant can help get you in the door at any organization, and you could advance into other roles from there.”

Secretaries and Administrative Assistants

Perform routine clerical duties such as organizing files or answering phone calls.



Median: $19.72/hour
High: $23.87/hour

Seven-county Twin Cities metro

Median: $21.08/hour
High: $24.82/hour


In Minnesota, there are 31,920 workers employed in this very large career. This career is currently in very high demand. There will be a need for about 31,454 new Secretaries and Administrative Assistants to meet market demand between 2016–2026. This includes the demand due to replacement (workers leaving the occupation or retiring) as well as growth.

Minnesota State CAREERwise Education

Administrative Service Managers

Oversee clerical or logistical activities for businesses.


This is a very high-wage career. It pays well above the statewide median wage of $20.95/hour.


Median: $44.87/hour
High: $55.53/hour

Seven-county Twin Cities metro

Median: $47.04/hour
High: $57.31/hour


In Minnesota, there are 6,700 workers employed in this medium-sized career. This career is currently in very high demand. There will be a need for about 6,484 new Administrative Service Managers to meet market demand between 2016–2026. This includes the demand due to replacement (workers leaving the occupation or retiring) as well as growth.

Minnesota State CAREERwise Education

Graduate perspective: Cheryl Brogger

Cheryl Brogger

Cheryl Brogger, 49, of Dennison, Minnesota, graduated from DCTC in 2017, earning A.A.S. degrees from the Executive Assistant and Medical Administrative Specialist programs. That same year, Cheryl was recognized as a member of the Phi Theta Kappa All-Minnesota Academic Team. She also competed nationally via Business Professionals of America (BPA) and participated in Student Senate.

In her role as an admissions specialist in Enrollment Services at DCTC, Cheryl processes applications and transcripts. Most of her workday is occupied processing information and getting students accepted to the college.

A graduate of Lincoln High in Lake City, Minnesota, Cheryl is married. She and her husband, Neil, have five children, two sons, Eivind and Kyle, and three daughters, Amanda, Samantha and Stephanie, along with nine grandchildren,Lexi, Kylee, Jax, Mia Jase, Kamryn, Karsyn, Kaiden, Makenna and Mikko.

In her free time, Cheryl enjoys reading, watching her favorite shows, snowmobiling, spending time at home whenever she can and watching her kids play sports.

Three words that describe you as a professional in your career:

How did your education at DCTC help you launch or enhance your career?

“I was blessed to have some really great instructors in my programs who helped me develop my skills in any office setting. I became certified in Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and had many other classes that were really useful to me. I also discovered that networking would be beneficial to me in finding a position on campus, where I discovered I wanted to work after graduation.

“Hard work in my last two semesters paid off; I was the Student Senate president, participated in Phi Theta Kappa events and went to Florida and Boston for Business Professionals of America (BPA) national competitions. I also worked part-time in Student Life during my last semester at DCTC.

“I thoroughly enjoyed my time as a student at DCTC and would encourage any student to be involved on campus. Skills learned in the classroom are extremely important as well as those social skills you learn from outside the classroom.

“I graduated in May 2017 and the Monday after graduation, I started full-time at the college, splitting my time between Student Life and Academic Affairs. By June 1, I had moved to Academic Affairs full-time as an administrative assistant; by June 2018, I had moved to Admissions. I work as an admissions specialist with a great group of people in Enrollment Services and feel blessed to be where I am.”

Student perspective: Marianna Mendoza

Originally from St. Paul, Minnesota, Marianna Mendoza, 19, is earning her diploma from the Administrative Assistant program. Marianna is on track to graduate from DCTC in December 2020.

Marianna is a 2018 graduate of Eastview High School. She was volunteering at the Minneapolis−Saint Paul International Airport until her college schoolwork required more of her time. When she’s not studying, she enjoys painting and drawing.

Marianna resides with her family, mom, dad, two sisters and one brother, in Apple Valley, Minnesota.

Three words that describe you as a college student:

What do you like best about the Administrative Assistant program?

“I like the fact that everything that I’m learning is useful information I can apply to my life right now, even though I am not yet an administrative assistant. I’m learning about computer software programs that come in handy for any occasion, and I’ve been able to use the stuff that I’m learning on a daily basis.”

Faculty Bio: Amy Evanson

Amy Evanson

Amy Evanson started at DCTC in February 2012 as the information systems coordinator for the DCTC Customized Training division. She assumed a new role in Academic Affairs in the fall of 2015, and started teaching shortly after that.

Amy brings six years of experience in the education field. She has been an admissions coordinator, academic advisor and registrar for other private schools within the Twin Cities metropolitan area.

She graduated from Minnesota State University Moorhead with a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Criminal Justice and a Minor in Sociology. Amy also has an M.B.A. from the Minnesota School of Business.

Learn more about the Administrative Assistant program at DCTC by contacting:

Amy Evanson
Administrative Technology Faculty

Anika Stafford
Academic and Financial Aid Advisor

¹ Courtesy of Minnesota State CAREERwise
² Courtesy of Indeed for Employers