The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently published the 2016-17 Occupational Handbook which reflects employment projections for the 2014-24 decade. The 2016-17 Occupational Handbook covers 329 occupational profiles and 576 detailed occupations including the Office and Administrative Support Occupations profile. The profile describes what workers do, where they work, typical education and training requirements, wages, job outlook, state and area data and contacts for more information. The OOH is updated every 2 years by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), and is a useful resource for those seeking career guidance.
The overall Office and Administrative Support Occupations profile is projected to grow an average of 2 percent from 2014 to 2024, which is slower than the average for all the occupations tracked, however some occupations within this category are projected to grow more than others. Note that the average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent. Some of the office and administrative support occupations job growth rate is actually projected to decline.
The two fastest growing occupations in the Office Administrative category are Customer Service Representatives and Receptionists, which are both projected to grow 10% from 2014 to 2024, faster than the average for all occupations. Overall job opportunities for Customer Service reps is projected to be good. Customer Service reps with good customer-service skills and who have experience using computer software applications are projected to have the best job prospects. Receptionists with related work experience and experience using computers should have the best job prospects, the handbook notes.
Secretaries, Administrative Assistants and General Office Clerks job outlook is projected to grow 3% from 2014-2024, slower than the average (7%) for all occupations. It is projected that many job openings will result from the need to replace workers who leave the occupation. Those with existing work experience, particularly experience using word processing and spreadsheet software, should have the best job prospects. Employment of financial clerks is also projected to grow 6 percent from 2014 to 2024, although growth will vary by specialty.
Demand for medical assistants, a related occupation, is projected to grow 23 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations. The reasons stated is the continuing growth of the aging baby-boom population which will continue to increase demand for preventive medical services, which are often provided by physicians. As their practices expand, physicians will hire more assistants to perform routine administrative and clinical duties, allowing the physicians to see more patients, the handbook notes.
One of the Office and Administrative occupations whose job outlook projections are actually declining are desktop publishers, which are projected to decline 21 percent from 2014 to 2024. The handbook notes the reasons are because employers are expected to hire fewer desktop publishers as other types of workers—such as graphic designers, web designers, and editors—now increasingly perform desktop-publishing tasks.
Other occupations projected to decline from 2014 to 2024 are bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks (-8%) and bill and account collectors (-6%). Reasons cited for these declines are technological changes that are expected to reduce demand for these workers. Also, consolidation in the collections industry should continue to limit employment growth for bill and account collectors.
The office and administrative support occupations projected growth rate of 2% will result in about 466,500 new jobs. According to the occupational handbook, technology is expected to substitute or supplant some functions that workers in office and administrative support occupations do. Although not mentioned in the occupational handbook, the trend towards using virtual assistants, where employers only pay for actual services performed, may also be contributing to the decline in the projected job outlook for many of the traditional full time office and administrative support occupations. The median annual wage for office and administrative support occupations was documented as $32,520 in May 2014.
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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Teachers Guide,
on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/about/teachers-guide.htm (visited January 04, 2016).
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