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A History Of Office Administration Colleges

Office administration colleges are the descendent of secretary, stenography and typing schools, but the story starts earlier with a history of office work training. The profession of office administrator has undergone many changes, from something done exclusively by men, and all work with tools no more complicated than an abacus and quill pen or stylus to work with. While clerks and scribes are as old as recorded history, often being the very people doing the recording, the first modern clerks and secretaries would start their career as an apprentice, while they were still children, and they would be paid so little that it was not usual for them to sleep on the floor of their workplace. Still, this valuable training would help them start a career that could finish as a prestigious leader in business. Over time, labour and education expectations shifted to expect more and more education, while the invention of the typewriter created the profession of typist.

Business colleges as we know them today first come into the picture in the form of specialized typing courses. This was also a period with an influx of women into the field as the lowest level of support staff, though secretaries were still men in entry level roles. This would shift over a century, as secretary became an exclusively female profession. High schools would create streams, intending to prepare students either for university or prepare them with typing and business writing skills, usually with the expectation that career minded girls would go onto business colleges, with few other work opportunities for educated women outside of nursing and teaching. While at the turn of the previous century students already learning office basics from taking dictation to filing, this sphere became an opportunity for women to get, if not career advancement in the way of male secretaries of the past, independence though their own source of income. Going to secretary school became the default for smart girls who wanted more than just immediate marriage or living with their families, and even when single income families were the norm, some women maintained office work after marriage.

Today office administration colleges do not just lead to dead end jobs. Changes necessitating broader program choices and better salaries mean that graduates of both genders who choose business colleges can become administrators in their own right, and not just assistants. They may start in the same secretarial role of apprentices in the first days of office training, but with courses in accounting, management, marketing and more, and lifelong skill upgrades, today's office trainee can expect plenty of opportunities for advancement. And, with computers as the main tool for office work, expert users are indispensable. Business colleges of all kinds are also serving an older work force for retraining in new office methods, who wish to remain competitive with younger workers who grew up with industry standard software. And regardless of how things change, as long as there are offices, there will be a place for office administration training.

By: Valeria Stephens