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Office Assistant

Students in lecture

Office Assistant Certificate

Choose this program to train for a career as a receptionist or office assistant. Employers such as physician’s offices, law firms, temporary help agencies, and consulting firms are in need of skilled office staff. You could also work for manufacturing and industrial firms, telecommunications companies, and retail and wholesale organizations, plus many other businesses that need office clerical support.

To learn more about Bellingham Technical College programs you’re interested in, join us for a Virtual Program Info Session. Prior sign up is required. If you do not see an Info Session for the program you’re interested in, email for more information.

Employment Information

68% BTC graduate placement rate

$30,410 starting annual wage
$37,211 average annual wage
$46,426 potential annual wage
  • Employment and Wage Data Sources

    BTC graduate employment rates:
    The graduate employment rate reflects placement rates of students who graduated from BTC in 2014-15, 2015-16, and 2016-17. The Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges Data Linking for Outcomes Assessment database pulls from Unemployment Insurance (UI) data across Washington and Oregon. UI data do not reflect BTC graduates who (a) are employed in states beyond those listed above or outside of the United States, (b) are self-employed, (c) are active duty members of the armed forces, (d) continued on to another educational institution, and/or (e) did not provide a social security number while enrolled at BTC.

    Washington State Employment Security Department 2018 Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates ( reflect 2014-2017 employment

    Starting annual wage = 25th percentile
    Average annual wage = 50th percentile
    Potential annual wage = 75th percentile

Estimated Program Costs

Entry Information

When Can I Start?

The program typically starts in Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer Quarters.

What are the Minimum Entry Requirements?

These requirements are for the Certificate.

  • ACCUPLACER Classic Reading (71) or higher OR ACCUPLACER NextGen Reading (247) or higher OR RDG 085 with a C or higher.
  • ACCUPLACER Classic Sentence Skills (71) or higher OR ACCUPLACER NextGen Writing (245) or higher OR ENGL 092 with a C or higher.
  • ACCUPLACER Classic Arithmetic (50) or higher OR ACCUPLACER NextGen Arithmetic (238) or higher OR MATH 90 with a C or higher.

What are My Next Steps?


Total Program Credits: 57

  • Quarter 1

  • BUS 188Business English5 CR
  • CAP 101Introduction to Computer Applications5 CR
  • CAP 105Computerized Touch Keyboarding2 CR
  • Required Courses for Program

  • Required Courses credits to TOTAL 53 Credits.
  • BUS 100Electronic Math Applications3 CR
  • BUS 123Records Management3 CR
  • BUS 150Math for Business5 CR
  • BUS 191Technical Communications5 CR
  • BUS 188Business English5 CR
  • CAP 101Introduction to Computer Applications5 CR
  • CAP 105Computerized Touch Keyboarding2 CR
  • CAP 106Formatting with MSWord4 CR
  • CAP 107Computerized Keyboard Skillbuilding I3 CR
  • CAP 114MS Outlook2 CR
  • CAP 138WORD5 CR
  • CAP 142Excel5 CR
  • CMST& 210Interpersonal Communications5 CR
  • Electives

  • Office Assistant students may choose elective credits from any 100 level of higher courses with the following prefixes: ACCT, BUS, CAP, CIS, ECON, HRM, LGL, IT, or MGMT. Field-Based Experience courses may not be used as electives. Courses taken to meet the general education or program core requirements may not be used for electives.5 CR

Program Outcomes

  • Graduates will be able to demonstrate competency in touch keyboarding at 40 wpm on a three minute timing with a three error limit.
  • Graduates will be able to demonstrate 73 percent competency in word processing, written business communication, business math, effective oral communication skills, office skills and procedures, and MS Windows.

Employment Outlook

Employment opportunities for receptionists are expected to grow because so many receptionists work for firms in services industries – including physician’s offices, law firms, temporary help agencies, and consulting firms – that are expected to experience significant growth. Job openings should be plentiful due to the large size and high rate of turnover associated with this occupation.

The average annual wage in this field is $37,211, with an earning potential of about $46,426 per year.

Administrative assistants are needed in a variety of industries. Employment for administrative assistants is projected to grow 19 percent in Washington State and decline by 9 percent across the United States according to O*Net OnLine

Faculty & Support

Photo of Marcia Pedersen
Marcia Pedersen

Marcia Pedersen has a Bachelor of Science and Master of Education degrees from Central Washington University and has taught a variety of courses over 27 years including computers, finance, law, entrepreneurship, office procedures and English. She is certified in Microsoft Office Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint and Access. Her professional networks are with the National Business Education Association, Washington Association of Career and Technical Education, and Washington State Business Education Association. In addition, she has worked as a receptionist, legal secretary, athletic program manager, clerical testing administrator, lifeguard, and juvenile detention officer. She enjoys traveling, scuba diving, reading, volunteering with search and rescue, and spending time with her family—two and four-legged!