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Consider Recognition and Rewards for Administrative Professionals

How pay for administrative workers varies across the U.S.

Two women working together in an office.

There are more than 22 million administrative professionals in the U.S., according to the International Association of Administrative Professionals, one of the original sponsors of Administrative Professionals Day (April 24) and Administrative Professionals Week (April 22 to 26). Although pay for administrative workers varies based on location, employers can take common steps to recognize these professionals and make them feel valued.

Recognition and Perks

Administrative staffing firm OfficeTeam, a subsidiary of HR consultancy Robert Half, conducted a survey of more than 2,800 senior managers in the U.S. and looked at how employers show recognition during Administrative Professionals Week. It found that companies most often:

  • Organize a celebration or lunch at work (43 percent).
  • Offer a present, such as flowers or a gift card (40 percent).
  • Praise administrative workers during a staff meeting or other public forum (35 percent).
  • Provide a handwritten thank-you note (27 percent).

"If you're looking for ways to honor your support staff, going the traditional route—lunch or even flowers—is a solid choice," according to a Robert Half blog post. For those searching for a unique way of showing staff appreciation, the firm advised that a simple thank-you is a good start—but don't stop there: "Let your admins know how their work has helped you or the department. Share praise from happy clients, celebrate achievements and recognize your staff publicly, in front of peers."

An even nicer touch, the firms said, is a verbal commendation followed by a handwritten note.

Other rewards that employers can bestow, the firm pointed out, are:

  • Extra cash. A spot bonus as a monetary reward is always welcome.
  • Rest and relaxation. If extra vacation time isn't feasible, consider a gift card to a local spa or a favorite restaurant, or tickets to a cultural or sporting event.
  • New opportunities. If they are interested, ask administrative professionals to oversee a project, or encourage them to consider joining a mentorship program. "A gesture like this will show that you value a staff member's work and contributions and have confidence in their skills and abilities," Robert Half noted.

[SHRM members-only toolkit: Managing Employee Recognition Programs]

A Range of Pay

In connection with the annual event, which originally began as National Secretaries Day in 1952, pay consultancy Korn Ferry looked at how these professionals are compensated for their work. Using the firm's pay database of more than 25,000 organizations, researchers analyzed compensation for different types of administrative roles. It found that the U.S. national average annual salaries for select administrative professionals are:

  • Receptionist: $29,120.
  • Administrative assistant: $54,080.
  • Senior office manager: $75,982.

Researchers also analyzed average annual salaries for administrative professionals in major cities across the U.S., as shown in the table below.


CityLevelAnnual Salary
 Administrative assistant$53,280
 Senior office manager$76,358
 Administrative assistant$63,393
 Senior office manager$89,224
 Administrative assistant$59,307
 Senior office manager$83,130
 Administrative assistant$54,613
 Senior office manager$79,443
 Administrative assistant$57,067
 Senior office manager$80,120
 Administrative assistant$55,307
 Senior office manager$81,173
Los Angeles  
 Administrative assistant$60,640
 Senior office manager$86,741
 Administrative assistant$57,920
 Senior office manager$80,346
New York  
 Administrative assistant$64,800
 Senior office manager$93,212
 Administrative assistant$58,080
 Senior office manager$82,302
San Francisco  
 Administrative assistant$68,907
 Senior office manager$96,823

"People in these roles have complex responsibilities for keeping businesses organized and on track," said Tom McMullen, Korn Ferry senior client partner. "The best administrative professionals excel at communication, time management and handling confidential information, and are dependable and reliable."

The analysis shows that "as they gain more experience and are given greater responsibilities to assist in making workplaces run smoothly, they are rewarded accordingly," McMullen said.


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