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Top 10 Clerical Assistant Certifications

This article provides an overview of the most popular and sought-after certifications for clerical assistants, including requirements, benefits, and potential career paths.

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Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Published 17 min read

Certifications are important for a clerical assistant in the job market because they demonstrate that the individual has a professional level of competency and is knowledgeable in their field. Certifications can also provide evidence of skills, such as proficiency with office software, that make an individual more attractive to employers. Additionally, certifications can help clerical assistants stand out from other applicants by showing that they have taken the initiative to further their knowledge and stay up-to-date on modern industry practices. Finally, certifications may also provide access to job opportunities or higher wages.

The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the best certifications for Clerical Assistants and explain how they can lead to career advancement.

What are Clerical Assistant Certifications?

Clerical assistant certification is a professional designation that demonstrates an individual's ability to perform clerical and administrative duties in a variety of settings. This certification can be earned by taking courses or completing training programs designed to teach the necessary skills to work as a clerical assistant. These skills include filing, managing data, utilizing office equipment, and other tasks related to administrative support.

Clerical assistant certification is beneficial for those looking to enter the field or advance their career. It serves as evidence of an individual's proficiency in the area, which may make them more attractive to employers when applying for jobs or promotions. Additionally, clerical assistant certifications can demonstrate knowledge of industry standards and best practices, as well as provide recognition from peers and employers alike. Finally, having a certificate may also qualify individuals for higher salaries or better job opportunities in the future.

Pro Tip: Before enrolling in a clerical assistant certification program, make sure that the program is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency. This will ensure that your certificate is valid and accepted by employers in the industry.

Related: What does a Clerical Assistant do?

Top 10 Clerical Assistant Certifications

Here’s our list of the best certifications available to Clerical Assistants today.

1. Certified Professional Secretary (CPS)

Certified Professional Secretary (CPS) is a professional certification offered by the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP). It is designed to recognize and validate the knowledge and skills of administrative professionals in the modern workplace. The CPS certification demonstrates that an individual has mastered the core competencies required for success in today’s administrative environment.

To become certified, individuals must pass a comprehensive exam that covers topics such as office management, communication, technology, customer service, problem solving, and business ethics. The exam is administered by IAAP and consists of multiple-choice questions. It typically takes about four hours to complete.

The cost of obtaining the CPS certification varies depending on whether or not you are a member of IAAP. If you are not a member, you will need to pay a one-time fee of $295 USD to take the exam. If you are an IAAP member, you will receive a discounted rate of $195 USD.

Once you have successfully passed the exam and obtained your CPS certification, it is valid for three years from the date of issue. After this time period has expired, you will need to retake the exam in order to maintain your certification status.

2. Certified Administrative Professional (CAP)

Certified Administrative Professional (CAP) is a professional certification program offered by the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP). It is designed to recognize and validate the expertise of administrative professionals in the workplace. The CAP certification demonstrates that an individual has achieved a level of mastery in their field, and is committed to continuing professional development.

The CAP exam consists of three components: Core Knowledge, Technology Applications, and Business Writing & Communications. Each component is tested separately and must be passed in order to earn the CAP designation. The Core Knowledge exam covers topics such as office management, business writing, customer service, project management, and technology applications. The Technology Applications exam tests knowledge of computer software programs such as Microsoft Office Suite and Adobe Acrobat Pro. The Business Writing & Communications exam tests an individual's ability to communicate effectively in both written and verbal forms.

It typically takes between six months to one year to complete the entire process for earning the CAP designation. During this time period, individuals must complete all three components of the exam successfully before they can receive their certification.

In order to get started on earning your CAP designation you must first become a member of IAAP and pay the membership dues associated with it. After becoming a member you will then need to register for the CAP exams which cost $195 each for members or $295 each for non-members. Once registered for an exam you will have up to one year from that date to take it or your registration fee will be forfeited. Additionally, there are study materials available through IAAP that can help prepare you for taking the exams which may incur additional costs depending on what materials are purchased.

3. Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS)

Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) is a globally recognized certification program designed to validate an individual’s skills in Microsoft Office applications such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Access and OneNote. The MOS certification demonstrates an individual’s ability to effectively use the features and functionality of Microsoft Office applications.

The MOS certification program takes approximately one to two months to complete depending on the individual’s skill level and dedication. To get certified, individuals must pass one or more exams that test their knowledge of specific Microsoft Office applications. Exams are available online or through authorized testing centers.

The cost for taking the exam varies depending on the number of exams taken and the location of the testing center. Generally, each exam costs between $100 and $150 USD. Additionally, there may be additional costs associated with training materials and practice tests.

4. Certified Legal Secretary (CLS)

Certified Legal Secretary (CLS) is a professional certification program that recognizes individuals who have demonstrated a high level of knowledge and proficiency in the legal field. The CLS designation is awarded by the National Association of Legal Secretaries (NALS).

The CLS certification requires applicants to pass an exam that covers topics such as legal terminology, research techniques, legal writing, and court procedures. The exam consists of 150 multiple-choice questions and takes approximately four hours to complete. Applicants must also submit proof of at least two years of work experience in a legal setting.

In order to become certified, applicants must submit an application form and fee to NALS. The application fee is $150 for members of NALS or $200 for non-members. After submitting the application and fee, applicants will receive an exam registration packet with further instructions on how to register for the exam.

Once applicants pass the exam, they will receive their official Certified Legal Secretary certificate from NALS. This certificate is valid for five years and can be renewed by taking continuing education courses or retaking the exam every five years.

5. Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA)

Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) is a professional certification for medical administrative assistants. It is designed to recognize the knowledge and skills of those who work in the medical administrative field. The certification is offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).

To become certified, applicants must pass an exam that covers topics such as medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, coding systems, insurance claims processing, HIPAA compliance, and more. The exam consists of 150 multiple-choice questions and takes approximately two hours to complete.

In order to be eligible to take the exam, applicants must have at least one year of experience as a medical administrative assistant or equivalent training. They must also submit proof of their education and experience.

The cost of the CMAA exam varies depending on where it is taken. Generally, it costs around $150-$200 for the exam fee plus any additional fees associated with taking it at a testing center or online.

Once applicants have successfully passed the CMAA exam, they will receive their certification within four weeks from NHA. This certification can be renewed every two years by completing continuing education credits or retaking the CMAA exam.

6. Certified Office Manager (COM)

Certified Office Manager (COM) is a professional certification program offered by the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP). It is designed to recognize the knowledge and skills of administrative professionals in the areas of office management, communication, customer service, technology, and organizational leadership.

The COM certification program consists of three levels: Certified Office Professional (COP), Certified Administrative Professional (CAP), and Certified Management Administrator (CMA). The COP level focuses on basic office skills such as filing, data entry, and customer service. The CAP level focuses on more advanced topics such as project management, technology, and communication. The CMA level focuses on higher-level topics such as financial management, strategic planning, and human resources.

It typically takes around two years to complete all three levels of the COM certification program. To get started with the program you must first become an IAAP member. After becoming a member you can then register for the exams online. The cost for taking each exam varies depending on whether you are an IAAP member or not. For non-members it costs $185 per exam while members pay $150 per exam.

7. Certified Professional Clerical Associate (CPCA)

Certified Professional Clerical Associate (CPCA) is a certification program designed to assess the knowledge and skills of clerical professionals. The certification is offered by the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP). It is designed to recognize the expertise of those who work in administrative roles, such as secretaries, receptionists, office managers, and executive assistants.

The CPCA exam consists of two parts: a written exam and a performance-based assessment. The written exam covers topics such as communication skills, customer service, business writing, computer applications, office management, and more. The performance-based assessment includes tasks such as filing documents, scheduling appointments, and managing data entry.

It typically takes about 6 months to complete the CPCA certification process. To get started on the process you must first register with IAAP and pay an application fee. After registering you will be able to access study materials and practice tests that will help you prepare for the actual exams. Once you have completed all requirements for the certification you will receive your certificate from IAAP.

The cost of getting your Certified Professional Clerical Associate (CPCA) certification varies depending on where you live and what type of program you choose to take. Generally speaking it costs around $400-$600 USD for the entire process including registration fees, study materials, practice tests, and final exams.

8. International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP) Certification

The International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP) Certification is a professional credential that recognizes individuals who have achieved a high level of expertise in the administrative field. It is designed to demonstrate an individual’s mastery of the skills and knowledge required to be successful as an administrative professional.

The IAAP Certification Program consists of two levels: Certified Administrative Professional (CAP) and Master Administrative Professional (MAP). To become certified, individuals must pass a comprehensive exam that covers topics such as communication, customer service, problem solving, project management, technology, and more. The exam is offered twice a year at various locations around the world.

It typically takes 6-12 months to prepare for the CAP or MAP exams. This includes studying for the exam and completing any prerequisites that may be required by your employer or educational institution. During this time, it is recommended that you take practice tests and attend review courses or seminars to help you better understand the material.

To get IAAP certification, you must first register with IAAP and pay the registration fee ($175 for CAP; $225 for MAP). You will then receive information about scheduling your exam date and location. After passing the exam, you will receive your certificate in the mail within 8-10 weeks.

The cost of becoming certified varies depending on how much preparation you need to do beforehand and which level of certification you are seeking. Generally speaking, it can cost anywhere from $500-$1,000 to become certified with IAAP depending on what resources you use to prepare for the exam.

9. National Association of Legal Secretaries (NALS) Certification

The National Association of Legal Secretaries (NALS) Certification is a professional certification program for legal secretaries. It is designed to recognize and promote the highest standards of professionalism in the legal secretarial field. The certification is available to both members and non-members of NALS.

To obtain the NALS Certification, an individual must first meet the educational requirements, which include either a high school diploma or equivalent, or an associate degree in paralegal studies from an accredited institution. After meeting these requirements, applicants must pass a comprehensive written exam that covers topics such as legal terminology, office procedures, ethics, communication skills and other areas related to the legal secretarial profession.

The written exam takes approximately three hours to complete and consists of multiple-choice questions. The exam fee is $150 for members and $175 for non-members. Once the exam has been successfully completed, applicants will need to submit additional documents such as transcripts and letters of reference before they can receive their certification.

Once certified, individuals are required to complete 12 continuing education credits every two years in order to maintain their certification status. These credits may be obtained through courses offered by NALS or other approved organizations such as law schools or bar associations.

Overall, obtaining the NALS Certification requires dedication and commitment but can be very rewarding for those who are serious about pursuing a career as a legal secretary.

10. American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers (AIPB) Certification

The American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers (AIPB) is a professional organization that provides certification for bookkeeping professionals. This certification is designed to demonstrate a bookkeeper's knowledge and skills in the field, allowing them to be more competitive in the job market.

To obtain AIPB certification, an individual must first pass the AIPB Certification Exam. The exam consists of multiple-choice questions covering topics such as accounting principles, financial statements, payroll processing, and taxation. The exam takes approximately three hours to complete and requires a score of 70% or higher to pass.

In addition to passing the exam, applicants must have at least two years of verifiable experience in bookkeeping or accounting. Applicants may also be required to submit additional documentation such as transcripts or letters of recommendation from employers.

The cost of AIPB Certification varies depending on the type of membership an applicant chooses. There are three types of memberships available: Basic ($99/year), Professional ($149/year), and Elite ($299/year). Each membership includes access to exclusive discounts and resources as well as discounts on continuing education courses.

Once certified, individuals must maintain their certification by completing at least 20 hours of continuing education every two years. Recertification fees are included in each membership type and include access to exclusive discounts and resources as well as discounts on continuing education courses.

Do You Really Need a Clerical Assistant Certificate?

The short answer is that it depends on the type of job you are looking for. In some cases, a clerical assistant certificate can be quite beneficial and help you stand out from other applicants. It shows potential employers that you have taken the initiative to become certified in a particular field, which can be particularly attractive to companies who are looking for qualified candidates.

However, if your goal is simply to find an entry-level job as a clerical assistant, then a certificate may not be necessary. Most employers will accept applicants with basic office skills and no formal training or certification. Additionally, some employers may prefer to hire someone with experience over someone who has only completed a certificate program.

Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to pursue a clerical assistant certificate should depend on your individual goals and the type of job you’re applying for. If you believe that having this certification will give you an edge over other applicants and bolster your resume, then it may be worth considering. However, if you feel that your existing skills are sufficient for most entry-level positions, then pursuing one may not be necessary.

Related: Clerical Assistant Resume Examples

FAQs About Clerical Assistant Certifications

Q1. What is a Clerical Assistant Certification?

A1. A Clerical Assistant Certification is a certification program that provides individuals with the knowledge and skills to perform clerical duties in an office or other professional setting. The certification program typically covers topics such as filing, data entry, customer service, and general administrative tasks.

Q2. What are the benefits of obtaining a Clerical Assistant Certification?

A2. Obtaining a Clerical Assistant Certification provides job seekers with valuable skills and knowledge to help them stand out in the job market and secure employment in their chosen field. It also serves as a badge of honor for those already employed in clerical roles, demonstrating their commitment to excellence and proficiency in their duties.

Q3. How long does it take to obtain a Clerical Assistant Certification?

A3. The length of time required to obtain a Clerical Assistant Certification will vary depending on the course provider, but typically these certifications are completed within six months or less if studying full-time.

Q4. Are there any prerequisites for obtaining a Clerical Assistant Certification?

A4. Generally speaking, no prerequisites are required for obtaining a Clerical Assistant Certification; however, some course providers may require applicants to have basic computer literacy skills before enrolling in the program or passing an assessment test prior to enrollment.

Q5. What types of jobs can I apply for after obtaining my Clerical Assistant Certification?

A5. After earning your Clerical Assistant Certification, you can apply for various positions such as office clerk, receptionist/front desk associate, administrative assistant/executive assistant, data entry clerk/typist and more!