Difference Between Administrative Assistant and Secretary (With Table)

The corporate sectors have many jobs and responsibilities for which they require specific potential individuals to work. Administrative Assistant and Secretary are two among the jobs which require skills. The two above jobs are although interchangeably used. The required skills, job responsibilities, experience in the respective field are all very different from each other.

Administrative Assistant vs Secretary

The main difference between Administrative Assistant and Secretary is that an Administrative Assistant has many other job responsibilities than being on a desk full day and answering phone calls while on the other hand, the job responsibilities for a Secretary are mainly to be on the desk and performing some memos, updating job profiles of different employees, etc.

An administrative assistant has many extra job responsibilities compared to that of a secretary. They have to report to their higher authorities for their work completion or submissions, such as CEOs or CFOs. They have the authority of decision-making in the absence of their head. The major skills required for the respective job are – critical thinking, time management, teamwork, confidence, etc.

A secretary doesn’t have many responsibilities off their desk job. They are asked to report to the administrative assistant or executive or their boss. They also don’t have the authority to take any decision in the absence of their head in charge. The skills required for the job are the same as that of an administrative assistant like – teamwork, critical thinking, confidence, computer knowledge, organizational skills, etc.

Comparison Table Between Administrative Assistant and Secretary

Parameters of Comparison

Administrative Assistant


Job Type

The job of an administrative assistant is more than just an office desk job.

The job of a secretary is mainly the office job.

Decision Making

They have the authority to take an independent decision.

They do not have the authority to make decisions on their own


They have a higher pay scale.

They have a low pay scale.


Create spreadsheets, research, taking forward with new clients, and many more.

Answering phone calls, preparing memos, updating job profiles of employees, and many more


Knows about their boss preferences

May or may not know their boss’s preferences

What is Administrative Assistant?

An administrative assistant is a person who is employed for performing many jobs and responsibilities related to a desk job, or fieldwork, or both. A person hired on the role of an administrative assistant is mainly asked to report to the higher authorities in the company, like CEOs or CFOs. The job and responsibilities of an administrative assistant depend upon the size and number of people working in the company or an organization.

In a small company or an office, the work performed by an administrative assistant is handled by the other office staff present. In a medium-sized company or an office, the work and responsibility of an administrative assistant are performed by the individual hired for it. In a large office or company, the responsibilities and workload increase.

The company or organization wants a person who is good in teamwork, critical thinking, confident, knows to manage his/her time according to the workload, knows about the basics of Microsoft tools along with some bookkeeping tools, and is brilliant in communications skills.

Some of the roles and duties performed by the administrative assistant are- making spreadsheets, handling clients, doing research work, creating agendas for the day, working on a large-scale project, etc.

What is Secretary?

A secretary is a person who is employed for performing various responsibilities but mainly related to in-office desk jobs. A person working as a secretary is asked to report to his/her boss or sometimes maybe to the administrative assistant or executive. The responsibilities of the secretary can be performed separately by an individual or can be done by anyone within the office staff.

The basic requirements for the job of the secretary are somewhat the same as that of an administrative assistant which is – confident person, brilliant in speaking skills, good critical thinking skills, aware about time management, teamwork, excel in different computer software skills, etc. A person with a higher school education, along with some knowledge about personal executive courses, is preferred.

The mains roles and responsibilities of a secretary are – answering phone calls and redirect them to the respective person, typing dictation notes, profiling different employees, maintain records, running errands, operating office equipment, etc.

A secretary does not have any power to take office or work-related decisions. The salaries offered to a secretary are low and maybe around 13 dollars per hour. The salary withdrawn is based on many factors such as – the experience of the person, size of the business, education, location of the company or office.

Main Differences Between Administrative Assistant and Secretary

  1. The job profile of an administrative assistant is not just the in-office desk work but more than that, while the job profile for a secretary is the more in an office desk job.
  2. The administrative assistant has the authority to independently make decisions, while a secretary does not have independent decision-making power and must follow the orders of the administrative assistant.
  3. The salary of a person working as an administrative assistant is high as if compared to the person working as a secretary because they have a low pay scale for them.
  4. The set of responsibilities for an administrative assistant is much more than that of a secretary as they have to maintain spreadsheets, handling regular and new clients, research work done, etc. while a secretary usually handles the appointments and settles them up accordingly, updating the job profiles of employees, preparing memos, answering phone calls and directs them to the requested person.
  5. An administrative assistant is must aware of their in-charge or boss preferences while a secretary may or may not be aware of that.  


Different job responsibilities require different expert individuals in the respective fields in order to make the company work. So does is with an administrative assistant and a secretary, although the words and jobs are normally thought to be the same with similarities comes to some difference which makes them unique.

An administrative assistant is a higher post than a secretary. The job responsibilities of an administrative assistant are also higher than a secretary who mainly has to perform desk jobs. The salaries withdrawn by the respective individuals are also different based on the experience, education, location, and size of the company. An administrative assistant is paid more than a secretary.


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