Guide to Online Office Administration Courses (with Tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published June 19, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Office administration is the process of overseeing the functions of an organization's workplace. The role requires a range of hard and soft skills, and taking a class online can prepare you for this business position. Understanding which class to choose can help you efficiently begin a career in this rewarding field. In this article, we detail what online office administration courses teach, explain the types of classes, and provide a list of options for you to reference.

What do online office administration courses teach?

Online office administration courses provide the academic background you require to succeed in this business position. The classes focus on hard skills such as typing and soft skills that include interpersonal communication. Many online courses incorporate a practicum component. This involves earning credit by working in the position and learning in a firsthand way. In many situations, this can lead to a career simply by remaining in the workplace and becoming a full- or part-time employee.

Office administration instruction involves learning information regulations, such as the Freedom of Information and Protection Act (FOIP) and Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA). Administration learns how to manage sensitive data, and communicate effectively over the phone, by email, and in writing. The study involves learning the annual paperwork process throughout a full fiscal year.

Types of office administration classes online

There are two main types of office administration classes that you can take online. These include:


There's a wide range of private institutions that offer administration courses exclusively online. Some follow a specific timeline and involve remote classes while others allow for independent study within specific timelines. Most of these programs last between six months and one year for a certificate. There are options throughout Canada for a diploma in office administration, though it usually requires two years. The majority of paid courses include a practicum that can assist you in starting a career. If the positions you seek rely on applicants having a credential, a paid program is more likely to meet the assessment requirements.

Read more: How to Write a Cover Letter for an Office Administrator (With Tips)

Free and low-cost

If the main focus of your office administration academic pursuits is to learn the requisite skills, there are many no- or low-cost options available. Many high-quality programs offer advanced information about office administration, including training in the relevant software and procedures. The courses include syllabi and typically feature modules that pace the lessons. Most of the free programs allow you to work at an independent pace, though some require attendance and regular participation. While you can obtain a certificate from many free online institutions, the focus is generally on the practical knowledge you gain.

3 low-cost or free office administration courses online

There are many classes that you can take online that come at little to no charge. Among the options are:

1. Udemy Administrative Assistant Skills Courses

At Udemy, an online service that offers access to university courses and provides proof of the credential. The courses on Udemy vary significantly, with some offering broad receptionist training and others being more specific, such as a class in office administration for medical environments. Some courses supplement existing knowledge, assuming the students are already administrators looking to hone skills. In other situations, the programs are entirely entry-level, such as becoming a legal secretary or the fundamentals of an administrative professional.

Another option for taking office administration courses is through the more specialized classes the platform offers. It supplies categories that can help you align with a focus within the office industry. Some examples include organizational tactics, virtual assistant techniques, document management, and bookkeeping programs. These assume you have a fundamental understanding of an office environment and focus the education on advanced competencies.

Read more: Types of Microsoft Office Certifications (With Skills)

2. Coursera Business Foundations

At Coursera, there is a range of business and office administration classes from which you can choose. The diversity enables you to find a specialization that aligns with your goals. For beginners seeking an entry-level position, there are training options in Excel and business foundations. If you want to supplement existing information, then you can pursue more specific classes, such as financial accounting and business foundations. The common denominator in these classes is a focus on accounting, marketing, and customer relations. Each of the classes prepares you for an office role differently.

Coursera plus is a platform that operates on a subscription basis, with monthly or annual options. Each of its programs includes a certificate that proves your success. The platform partners with reputable brands. It contributes to the value of the credential and the quality of the information you gain during your schooling. There are free courses that you can take on the site and paid options if you elect the complete program.

3. edX Business Foundations

The edX platform originated as a way to provide access to information in an affordable manner. It partners with high-level universities to provide equitable access to schools. It has two program options, one that provides verification and the other that allows you to audit the course. If you choose to audit the class, you still get access to support and education. The paid version adds graded coursework and a shareable certificate.

The course itself focuses on how a company operates, including its main aspects and activities. It explains what industry disruption means and provides economic perspectives that administrators can use to remain agile. It teaches the dynamics of a business environment and addresses basic financial literacy. By the end of the course, you can integrate comfortably into an administration position.

Read more: What Is an Office Administrator? (With Average Salary)

3 paid office administration courses online

There are private institutions in Canada that offer accredited office assistant programs with courses entirely online. Three examples include:

1. CDI College Office Administration Certificate

To enter the CDI program, students require either a GED, high school diploma or to be a mature student and pass an entrance exam. The program includes a practicum that lasts for six weeks and provides information on industry-standard accounting software, enabling you to work as an administrative clerk or assistant, an office administrator, and an office clerk. The program is entirely online and focuses exclusively on providing you with practical information.

The course covers MS Office software, bookkeeping and accounting skills, customer interactions, and other skills that help in the office. It teaches traditional and modern clerical skills, including computer literacy and communication. The program includes a comprehensive syllabus and has accreditation in each province in which there is a location. It enables students to learn in a virtual, interactive setting and gain the skills to participate in an office role.

2. Academy of Learning Administrative Assistant Diploma

To enter this program, students require a grade 12 equivalent or mature status, plus a strong command of English and can follow instructions in that language. The school includes an interview to establish whether the school is a strong fit for the student pursuing a position in the class. Graduates study for a period of 29 weeks and gain a credential through an accredited institution in every province of operation.

The class includes keyboarding, ensuring that you can maintain 40 words per minute and have a strong command of industry-standard operating systems. Due to its common use in businesses, the class focuses on Microsoft programs, including database management in Access, spreadsheets at an intermediate level, and presentations in PowerPoint. This course also addresses business math, correspondence, bookkeeping, and writing skills. It provides you with a comprehensive skill set for the workplace.

Read more: 13 Popular Office Jobs (With Job Duties and Average Salaries)

3. Athabasca University Certificate in Administration

Entry-level students can take this course that offers students a chance to learn about administration from a broad, beginner's perspective. It covers accounting in various capacities, including non-profit, management, and financial applications. The program includes training in administrative principles and organizational behaviour. To graduate, students require credits in statistics, though they can choose between computer-oriented, business and economics, or an introduction class.

Because the students require a certain credit threshold to graduate, there is also a demand for electives. These can include administrative studies courses at a junior level. Upon program completion, the student receives a university-level certificate with a total of 30 credits. As the university is widely accredited, these credits can transfer into more advanced office administration classes.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions, or organizations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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