Administrative assistants are the glue that holds many types of modern organizations together. Responsible for helping businesses, governments, and nonprofit organizations run effectively, administrative assistants keep us organized and productive. Some of the important tasks that admins perform include answering phones, opening mail, responding to emails, scheduling appointments and meetings, booking business travel, and data entry.
Becoming an administrative assistant usually requires a high school education, as well as an ability to use word processing or spreadsheet programs such as Microsoft Word, Excel, or Google Docs. Usually, administrative assistants learn on the job and don’t necessarily need to have formal training. It’s important for administrative assistants to have excellent interpersonal and organizational skills in order to perform their jobs effectively.
Cities that performed well in our ranking tended to have affordable costs of living while providing dense concentrations of jobs for administrative assistants. Common drivers of administrative assistant employment included government offices and state capitals, educational institutions, and healthcare institutions.
AdvisorSmith’s study ranked 376 of the largest U.S. cities to find the most attractive cities where administrative assistants can pursue their careers. Based on data sets from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we discovered the top 50 cities for admins. Additionally, we also investigated the top cities by city size in order to provide varying lifestyle choices for administrative assistants.
Best Cities for Administrative Assistants
1. Ithaca, NY
Best known as the home of Cornell University, Ithaca is a small city located in Central New York State along Cayuga Lake. In addition to Cornell, the city also hosts Ithaca College, and Tompkins Cortland Community College, making the city very much a college town. The educational institutions in Ithaca provide attractive career opportunities for administrative assistants living and working in the city.
Ithaca had the highest concentration of administrative assistant jobs among all the cities in our study, with a location quotient of 2.39, which means Ithaca had 139% more jobs for admins compared with the average U.S. city. Additionally, Ithaca had the 5th highest average salary for administrative assistants, with an average of $47,310. Unlike most cities with high salaries for administrative assistants, which tend to be expensive places to live, Ithaca has a cost of living only 4% above the average.
2. Mobile, AL
Mobile, Alabama is a major port located on Mobile Bay on the Gulf Coast in southwest Alabama. Mobile was the first capital of French Louisiana when the region was a French colony. Later, the port in Mobile became an important part of the city’s history and economic development, with cotton being an important export crop in the 1800s. In the early 1900s, Mobile’s economy became oriented around shipbuilding and steelmaking.
Today, major employers of administrative assistants in Mobile include healthcare facilities, the University of South Alabama, and shipbuilding companies. Mobile has 83% more administrative assistant jobs on a per capita basis compared with the national average and also has a cost of living which is 16% below the national average.
3. Birmingham, AL
The largest city in the state of Alabama, Birmingham is located in a central part of the state. The city was named after Birmingham in England, and its early development was as an industrial city with mining and steel being important industries early in Birmingham’s development. In the past 50 years, Birmingham’s economy diversified into financial services, utilities, healthcare, and education.
Some of the major employers of administrative assistants in Birmingham include large banks, health insurance companies, and universities such as the University of Alabama at Birmingham. There are 12,740 administrative assistants employed in Birmingham, which is 67% above the national average, and they earned an average salary of $37,490. The cost of living in Birmingham is 16% below the national average.
4. Topeka, KS
Topeka, Kansas is the capital city of the state of Kansas, and state government and the education sector are major employers of administrative assistants in the city, with 87% more jobs for admins as a proportion of total jobs compared with the national average. The 3,070 administrative assistants in Topeka earned an average salary of $33,210, which was boosted by Topeka’s 18% below average cost of living.
Topeka is located along the Kansas River in the northeast part of the state. The city hosts several universities including Washburn University and the Topeka Campus of Friends University.
5. Carson City, NV
As the capital of the state of Nevada since its founding as a state in 1864, Carson City was ranked as the 5th most attractive city for administrative assistants in our study. The discovery of gold and silver nearby in the late 1850s led to the development of Carson City as a center of commerce and transportation.
Today, Carson City has the 4th highest concentration of administrative assistants in the country, with a location quotient of 2.28. Some of the major employers of admins in the city include the many Nevada state government offices in the city. Administrative assistants in the city earned an average salary of $39,350.
Top Cities for Administrative Assistants by City Size
Because many administrative professionals have varying lifestyle preferences with regard to the type of city they’d enjoy living in, we segmented our study by city size. Below, we list the top 10 small (population under 150,000), midsize (population 150,000-500,000), and large (population above 500,000) cities for administrative assistants.
Top 50 Cities for Administrative Assistants
The most attractive 50 cities for administrative assistants are listed below. Besides the ranking of cities, our study also lists the average annual salaries, number of jobs, location quotient, cost of living, and city size for each of the cities.
|Rank||City||City Size||Average Annual Salary||Total Jobs||Location Quotient||Cost of Living|
|5||Carson City, NV||Small||$39,350||990||2.28||108|
|6||Jefferson City, MO||Midsize||$32,100||2,650||2.36||91|
|10||Santa Fe, NM||Small||$39,340||2,120||2.3||114|
|12||Las Cruces, NM||Midsize||$31,620||2,350||2.23||90|
|14||Cape Girardeau, MO||Small||$30,080||1,450||2.27||87|
|18||St. Louis, MO||Large||$37,910||29,400||1.44||91|
|19||St. Joseph, MO||Small||$31,490||1,510||1.88||85|
|26||Rocky Mount, NC||Small||$36,490||820||1||81|
|27||Johnson City, TN||Midsize||$34,660||1,530||1.33||83|
|43||Kansas City, MO||Large||$37,380||21,990||1.38||94|
|45||State College, PA||Midsize||$36,330||1,930||1.86||104|
Our study considered three major factors in order to rank the most attractive cities for administrative assistants.
1. Location quotient for each city
The location quotient is a measure of the density of jobs for administrative assistants in a geographic area relative to the total employment pool. A location quotient of 1 indicates that the number of administrative assistant jobs is no more or less common than other jobs in the city. Location quotients above 1 indicate a stronger concentration of jobs for administrative professionals.
Cities with high location quotient scores have higher demand for administrative assistants, so these cities ranked more highly in our study compared with cities with low location quotients. In 2018, there were 3,498,120 secretaries and administrative assistants employed in the United States.
2. Cost of living adjustment for each city
AdvisorSmith’s study indexed each city’s average salary for administrative assistants to a cost of living index. The cost of living index equalizes different cities, as living expenses such as housing, food, and transportation can vary widely in different geographic areas. Cities with a lower cost of living were more highly ranked in our study, as this allows an administrative assistant’s earnings to stretch further when the cost of living is lower.
3. Salaries for administrative assistants by city
Another primary factor we considered in our study was the average salary earned by administrative assistants in a given city. We used data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to compare salaries in different cities. Cities with higher averages were ranked more highly in our study.
The nationwide average salary for administrative assistants was $42,320. Overall, the industry outlook for administrative assistants is negative, as a decline of 5% in industry jobs between 2016-2026 is predicted by the Occupational Outlook Handbook.
 Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook
 Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics
 Sperling’s Best Places Cost of Living Index