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How to become an administrative assistant

To become an administrative assistant in the NHS, apply for vacancies on our recruitment website. You could also do a Modern Apprenticeship.

What is an administrative assistant?

In the NHS, administrative assistants work in hospitals, health centres, and board headquarters.

They provide business support to clinical staff and business teams to arrange meetings, create documents, and maintain records.

Starting your career as an administrative assistant

Choosing subjects at school

To become an administrative assistant, you'll need a good standard of education. Useful subjects include:

  • Administration and IT
  • Business Management
  • English
  • Maths

Speak to your guidance teacher or careers adviser about subjects offered at your school.

Work placements and volunteering

You may find it helpful to get some healthcare experience by doing a work placement or volunteering. You’ll get training, increase your knowledge, and learn new skills. This could help you when applying to college or a new job with NHSScotland. 

Education and training pathway

Modern Apprenticeship

Some administrative assistants start their careers as Modern Apprentices. With a Business Administration Modern Apprenticeship, you'll get the training and experience you'll need for the role and a recognised qualification.

Find out more about becoming an apprentice.

College courses

If you choose to go to college, you could do the following qualifications to learn some of the skills and knowledge needed for this role:

  • SVQ Business and Administration at SCQF level 5
  • SVQ Customer Service at SCQF level 5

You can then apply for vacancies on our recruitment website.

Course search

Search for college courses on My World of Work.

Get to know the role

Communicating, time management, and organisation skills are key to this role. You could work in a clinical setting, such as a reception desk, or in an office, within a team or service that needs administrative support.

Tasks include: 

  • creating documents
  • phone calls
  • emails
  • keeping records
  • data entry
  • auditing data
  • helping with enquiries
  • booking appointments
  • managing calendars
  • handling mail
  • ordering stationery

You'll need these skills:

  • communicating
  • time management
  • problem-solving
  • organisation
  • teamwork

As an administrative assistant, you could work with: 

  • service managers
  • consultants
  • health records assistants
  • waiting list co-ordinators
  • finance assistants
  • procurement officers
  • ward clerks
  • personal assistants
  • HR assistants
  • porters
  • receptionists

You could work in: 

  • hospitals
  • health centres
  • offices
  • health board headquarters

Learning and development

You will be encouraged to develop your career in the NHS. As well as learning specific to your role, you'll need to complete mandatory training, including:

  • health and safety
  • occupational health
  • fire safety
  • counter-fraud
  • moving and handling
  • safe information handling

Your NHS employer will confirm their mandatory training requirements during your induction.

Career progression

You may also have the chance to study for additional qualifications, including:

  • SVQ Business and Administration at SCQF level 6
  • HNC Administration and Information Technology at SCQF level 7

Gaining new qualifications will help you when applying for more senior roles, such as team leader or office manager.

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