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Job duties of Design Firm AAs

Hi, I would like to try working for an architectural or other type of design firm but I don't have any experience in this particular industry. I'm wondering if anyone here is an AA for a design firm and can tell me what your typical duties are and especially what software you need to know in order to be hired. I appreciate any advice.

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I am an AA for a Mechanical Engineering firm and we work with a lot of Architects. Their offices usually use Microsoft Office since they need to use Word, Excel, and then they probably have an accounting program such as QuickBooks Pro or something similar. The one thinig I know about the Architects office is there is someone there who keeps track of all the projects and the various stages they are in at the current time. I have seen that done in Excel, simple spreadsheet showing the progress of the project. Also, you need to be able to keep track of appointments, especially for the ones out of the office. You would also need to know about putting together resumes for the firm, binding into books and having it ready for presentations. This can be involved as you get into what other projects did the firm do that is similar and it is so much fun. I really love my job, I get to do so much for my boss, and working with all the Architects we work with has been a blast! Best of luck in your search for AA with Architect/Design office. Anonymous on 7/14/2010 12:10:15 PM
I agree with the others; one of the best things of being an admin is the portability of our skills! I worked for a mid-sized architect/engineering firm and primarily used the standard office products - Word/Excel/PowerPoint. The company I worked with used Outlook for e-mail. I did letters, proposals, spreadsheets, expense reports, listing of drawings going in & out. In this role I became a notary public so that we could notarize documents going out for certification. The biggest thing I can recommend to you is to familiarize yourself with GANT charts and maybe some project management terminology. Everything depends on what the company uses, but GANT charts and timelines are big. Admins in that industry have their own admin group: Society for Design Administration ( and they (in association with American Instutute of Architects) sponsor an event every year called Canstruction ( that benefits local food pantries. Good luck! Anonymous on 7/14/2010 9:10:30 AM
I have worked as an AA at small Structural Engineering firm for the past 8 years. One of the biggest tasks in my job is to log shop drawings, correspondence and product submittals in and out of specific project logs. Excel is used extensively in mu position, as well as word and adobe. I have only rarely used CADD software, this is usually left to our drafting personnel and staff engineers. I love my job in this industry because I can honestly say I learn something new quite often and the work our firm does is very interesting to me. Hope this helps. Good Luck! Diane Carfo on 7/14/2010 8:51:34 AM
I work for a Public Works Dept. We receive many proposal packages from AIA firms. Large contracts that we are building or improving. Usually they have to deliver a dozen sets of GBC Bound books. The proposals describe their company staff, past work that is related to ours and lots of pictures. So I'd suggest Power Point, Excel (to show graphs of time line for the schedule of work), Word. Lots of Contract Documents. The friends of mine who have worked for these companies are usually burning the midnight oil the weeks before their proposals and presentations. Her hardest part was getting the AIAs to get their stuff handed in on time in order for her to put the proposal pages together. Publisher is another. Julie Minegar Stasi on 7/14/2010 8:49:04 AM
It all depends on the size of the firm. I worked for 5 years until 8 months ago with a SMALL design firm. The biggest part of my duties was managing his (the owner/president's) schedule (appts & consultations) making sure his drive time was efficient. The second largest part of my job involved writting up proposals. And the third largest piece of the job involved invoicing and bookkeeping. Beside a strong knowledge of Microsoft Office Suite, where I had worked did not use CADD or other software besides the ex-large printer/copier and scanner. Leticia Espinoza on 7/14/2010 8:42:26 AM

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