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Top 11 Administrative Professional Certifications

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Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Updated 17 min read

Certifications are important for administrative professionals in the job market because they show potential employers that they have the knowledge and skills necessary to be successful at the job. Certifications provide evidence of a person's commitment to their field, as well as demonstrate that they have taken the time and effort to complete courses or training that is relevant to the position. They also provide a way for employers to measure an individual's qualifications and competencies against other applicants, giving them a better sense of who would be best suited for the role. In addition, certifications can help administrative professionals stand out from other candidates and give them an edge when competing for positions.

The purpose of this article is to review some of the top certifications for Administrative Professionals and explain how they can help enhance an administrative professional's career.

What are Administrative Professional Certifications?

Administrative professional certification is a type of professional certification that recognizes the skills and knowledge of administrative professionals. This certification is intended to demonstrate to employers that an individual has the necessary qualifications to perform administrative tasks. It also allows individuals to demonstrate their commitment to continuing education and professional development.

Administrative professional certification can be helpful in a number of ways. First, it can help individuals stand out from other candidates when applying for jobs or promotions. Employers may be more likely to trust the abilities of someone with a certified credential than someone without one. Additionally, having a certified credential may also lead to higher salaries as employers are willing to pay more for certified professionals than those without credentials. Finally, certifications such as these provide individuals with access to continuing education opportunities and resources which can help them stay up-to-date on the latest industry trends and practices.

Pro Tip: Consider pursuing an administrative professional certification to demonstrate your knowledge and expertise in the field. These certifications can help you stand out in a competitive job market, and they can also provide a valuable way to stay up-to-date on industry trends and best practices.

Related: What does an Administrative Professional do?

Top 11 Administrative Professional Certifications

Here’s our list of the best certifications available to Administrative Professionals today.

1. Certified Professional Secretary (CPS)

Certified Professional Secretary (CPS) is an internationally recognized professional certification for secretaries, administrative assistants, and other office professionals. It is offered by the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP).

To become a CPS, individuals must have at least three years of full-time work experience in an administrative or secretarial role, plus a minimum of 30 semester hours of college credit from an accredited institution. Once these requirements are met, applicants must pass the CPS examination to receive their certification.

The CPS exam consists of two parts: a multiple-choice section and a written performance section. The multiple-choice section covers topics such as human relations, office technology, business communication, management principles, and legal issues. The written performance section requires applicants to complete several tasks related to office administration within a specified time frame.

The cost of taking the CPS exam varies depending on the country in which it is taken; however, it typically ranges from $200-$300 USD. Additionally, there may be additional fees associated with registering for the exam or obtaining study materials.

Overall, obtaining the Certified Professional Secretary (CPS) credential can take up to several months depending on when you register for the exam and how long it takes you to prepare for it.

2. Certified Administrative Professional (CAP)

Certified Administrative Professional (CAP) is a credential offered by the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP). It is designed to recognize and validate the knowledge and skills of administrative professionals across a variety of industries. The CAP certification demonstrates an individual’s commitment to professional development, mastery of essential administrative competencies, and dedication to the highest standards of excellence.

To become certified, applicants must have at least two years of full-time administrative experience and pass the CAP exam. The exam consists of four parts: Business Writing & Communication, Business Management & Technology, Human Resources Management & Organizational Leadership, and Financial & Project Management.

The entire process can take anywhere from 6 months to a year depending on how quickly you are able to complete the necessary requirements. To get started on your path towards becoming certified, you will need to register with IAAP and pay the registration fee which is currently $395 USD. Once registered, you will be provided with access to study materials and resources that will help you prepare for the exam. After successfully passing the exam, you will receive your official CAP certification which is valid for three years before needing to be renewed.

3. Certified Professional Manager (CPM)

Certified Professional Manager (CPM) is a professional certification program offered by the Institute of Certified Professional Managers (ICPM). This certification is designed to recognize individuals who have demonstrated a commitment to excellence in the management profession.

The CPM certification requires applicants to demonstrate their knowledge and skills in the areas of organizational leadership, human resource management, financial management, business strategy and operations. Applicants must also demonstrate their ability to apply these skills and knowledge in a practical setting.

It typically takes six months or more to complete the CPM program. The program consists of two parts: an online self-study course and an on-site exam. The online self-study course covers topics such as leadership, team building, communication, decision making, problem solving and project management. After completing the online course, applicants must take an on-site exam that tests their knowledge and application of the material covered in the online course.

The cost of obtaining a CPM certification varies depending on the provider offering it. Generally speaking, it costs between $1,500-$2,000 for the entire program including both the online self-study course and on-site exam.

4. Certified Office Administrator (COA)

Certified Office Administrator (COA) is a professional certification program designed to recognize individuals who demonstrate a high level of proficiency in the skills and knowledge necessary for success in an office environment. The COA certification is offered by the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP).

The COA certification requires applicants to pass three examinations: Core Office Skills, Advanced Office Skills, and Professional Practices. Each exam covers topics such as business communication, customer service, project management, and technology. The exams are administered online and take approximately two hours each to complete.

To be eligible for the COA certification program, applicants must have at least two years of full-time experience in an office environment or equivalent education/training. Applicants must also be members of IAAP and have completed the required prerequisites prior to taking the exams.

The cost of the COA certification program varies depending on whether you choose to take all three exams at once or one at a time. Taking all three exams at once costs $450 USD for IAAP members, while taking them one at a time costs $150 USD per exam for IAAP members. Non-members pay slightly higher fees for each option.

Once you have successfully passed all three exams, you will receive your official COA certificate from IAAP within four weeks of passing your final exam.

5. Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS)

Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) is a certification program designed to help validate an individual’s skills in the Microsoft Office suite of applications. It is designed for those who use Microsoft Office products on a daily basis and want to demonstrate their proficiency in using these programs.

The MOS certification consists of four different exams that cover the core applications of Microsoft Office: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook. Each exam is tailored to test your knowledge and skills in the specific application. The exams are offered at two levels: Expert and Specialist.

To become certified as a Microsoft Office Specialist, you must pass all four exams within one year of starting the program. The cost of each exam varies depending on your location, but generally ranges from $75-$125 USD per exam.

In order to prepare for the MOS exams, you can take advantage of free online training materials provided by Microsoft or purchase study guides from third-party vendors. You can also attend instructor-led classes or take practice tests to help you prepare for the actual exams.

Once you have passed all four exams and earned your MOS certification, it will be valid for two years before needing to be renewed. Renewal requires passing one additional exam from any of the four core applications or taking an approved course related to Microsoft Office products.

6. Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE)

Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) is a certification program designed for IT professionals who want to demonstrate their expertise in designing and implementing Microsoft solutions. It is a globally recognized certification that validates one’s ability to build innovative solutions across multiple technologies, both on-premises and in the cloud.

It typically takes 3-6 months of study and preparation to get the MCSE certification. The recommended way to prepare for this certification is by taking an instructor-led course or self-study courses from Microsoft Learning Partners. The cost of the course varies depending on which type of course you choose. Generally, the cost can range from $500-$3000 USD.

In order to get certified, you must pass two exams: one exam related to a specific technology (such as Windows Server 2016) and one elective exam related to any other technology (such as Azure). After passing both exams, you will receive your MCSE certification.

7. CompTIA A+ Certification

CompTIA A+ Certification is an industry-recognized certification that validates a technician’s skills in computer hardware and software. It is designed to demonstrate competency in areas such as installation, configuration, diagnosing, preventive maintenance and basic networking.

The CompTIA A+ certification exam typically takes about 90 minutes to complete and consists of two parts: Core 1 (220-1001) and Core 2 (220-1002). The Core 1 exam covers PC hardware, mobile device hardware, networking technology, network troubleshooting and operational procedures. The Core 2 exam focuses on operating systems, security, software troubleshooting and operational procedures.

To get certified for CompTIA A+ you will need to pass both the Core 1 and Core 2 exams with a score of at least 675 out of 900 points. You can prepare for the exams by taking online courses or attending instructor-led classes. Additionally, there are practice tests available to help you prepare for the exams.

The cost of the CompTIA A+ certification varies depending on where you take the exam. Generally speaking, it costs around $200 USD per exam or $400 USD for both exams combined.

8. Project Management Professional (PMP)

Project Management Professional (PMP) is a globally recognized certification from the Project Management Institute (PMI). It is designed to demonstrate a professional's expertise in leading and managing projects. The PMP certification requires knowledge of project management principles, processes, and techniques.

It typically takes 6-12 months to prepare for the PMP exam. This includes taking an accredited training course, studying for the exam, and completing the application process.

To get your PMP certification you must meet certain prerequisites and pass the PMP Exam. The prerequisites are:

  • A secondary degree (high school diploma or equivalent)
  • At least 4500 hours of leading and directing projects
  • 35 hours of project management education
  • Current membership in PMI

The cost of getting your PMP certification varies depending on where you take your classes, how much study material you purchase, and whether or not you need to retake the exam. Generally speaking, it will cost between $500-$2,000 USD to get your certification.

9. Certified Legal Secretary (CLS)

A Certified Legal Secretary (CLS) is a professional designation awarded by the National Association of Legal Secretaries (NALS). The certification recognizes individuals who have demonstrated excellence in legal secretarial skills and knowledge. To become certified, an individual must complete a comprehensive examination that covers topics such as legal terminology, document preparation, court procedures, ethics, and office management.

The CLS exam takes approximately four hours to complete. It is offered twice a year at locations throughout the United States. The cost of the exam varies depending on the location but generally ranges from $200-$400. Once an individual has successfully passed the exam, they will be awarded their Certified Legal Secretary credential.

10. Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA)

Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) is a professional certification that recognizes individuals who have demonstrated proficiency in the administrative and clinical tasks required of medical office staff. It is designed to provide employers with assurance that the individual has the knowledge and skills necessary to perform the job effectively.

The CMAA certification is offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA). To become certified, applicants must pass an exam that tests their knowledge of medical terminology, medical coding and billing, insurance processing, patient scheduling, and other administrative duties. The exam consists of 150 multiple-choice questions and must be completed within two hours.

The cost of taking the CMAA exam varies depending on where you take it. Generally, it costs between $125-$150. Additionally, there may be additional fees for study materials or preparation courses.

It typically takes between four to six weeks to prepare for the CMAA exam, depending on your study habits and how quickly you can learn the material. However, many people find that they need more time to adequately prepare for the test.

11. Certified Records Manager (CRM).

Certified Records Manager (CRM) is a professional certification program offered by the Institute of Certified Records Managers (ICRM). It is designed to recognize individuals who have achieved a certain level of knowledge and experience in records management. The CRM credential demonstrates that an individual has the skills and expertise necessary to effectively manage records in any organization.

To obtain the CRM credential, an individual must pass a comprehensive exam administered by ICRM. The exam covers topics such as records management principles, policies, procedures, technology, legal requirements, and best practices. The exam is divided into four parts: Part 1 focuses on records management fundamentals; Part 2 covers the development and implementation of a records management program; Part 3 covers electronic recordkeeping systems; and Part 4 covers legal requirements for records management.

The exam takes approximately three hours to complete. After passing the exam, applicants must submit an application for certification along with supporting documentation such as proof of education or employment in a related field. Once approved, applicants will receive their CRM designation within six weeks.

The cost of taking the CRM exam varies depending on whether you are an ICRM member or not. For non-members, the fee is $395 USD; for members it is $295 USD. There may also be additional fees associated with submitting your application for certification after you have passed the exam.

Do You Really Need a Administrative Professional Certificate?

The short answer to this question is, it depends. Depending on your goals, an Administrative Professional Certificate could be a great addition to your professional credentials. If you are looking for a job in an administrative role, having a certificate can show employers that you have the skills and knowledge necessary to do the job. It also demonstrates that you are committed to developing yourself professionally.

However, if you already have a degree or other qualifications in the field of administration or business, then the certificate may not be necessary. It is important to consider what type of job you want and determine whether or not getting the certificate would be a useful addition to your qualifications.

If you decide that getting a certificate is right for you, there are many options available online as well as at community colleges and universities. The courses usually focus on office management and communication skills, as well as computer software applications used in an administrative setting. Taking these classes will help you develop valuable skills such as organization, time management, problem-solving, customer service, and much more.

In conclusion, it is up to each individual to decide if they need an Administrative Professional Certificate or not when pursuing their career goals. The decision should be based on what type of job they are seeking and how best they can demonstrate their qualifications and commitment to their field of work.

Related: Administrative Professional Resume Examples

FAQs About Administrative Professional Certifications

1. What are the requirements to become an administrative professional?

Answer: The requirements vary depending on the specific administrative professional certification you're pursuing, but generally include a high school diploma or equivalent, relevant work experience, and passing an exam.

2. How long does it take to get certified as an administrative professional?

Answer: It depends on the type of certification and your own study habits, but generally it takes anywhere from six months to two years to complete all requirements for most certifications.

3. Is there a fee associated with becoming certified?

Answer: Yes, most certifying organizations charge a fee for their exams and/or training materials. You should check with your chosen organization for specific details.

4. Are administrative professionals in demand?

Answer: Yes, many employers value the skills and knowledge that come with being certified in this field and seek out qualified candidates for available positions.

5. What is the best way to prepare for certification exams?

Answer: The best way to prepare is by studying any relevant material provided by the certifying organization and taking practice tests online or through books or other resources. Additionally, many organizations offer training courses or workshops that can help you better understand the material you need to know in order to pass the exam.

Editorial staff

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Brenna Goyette

Expert Verified

Brenna is a certified professional resume writer, career expert, and the content manager of the ResumeCat team. She has a background in corporate recruiting and human resources and has been writing resumes for over 10 years. Brenna has experience in recruiting for tech, finance, and marketing roles and has a passion for helping people find their dream jobs. She creates expert resources to help job seekers write the best resumes and cover letters, land the job, and succeed in the workplace.

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