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Become A Clerical Secretary

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Working As A Clerical Secretary

  • Interacting With Computers
  • Getting Information
  • Performing Administrative Activities
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
  • Mostly Sitting

  • Repetitive

  • $29,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Clerical Secretary Do

Secretaries and administrative assistants perform routine clerical and administrative duties. They organize files, prepare documents, schedule appointments, and support other staff.

Duties

Secretaries and administrative assistants typically do the following:

  • Answer telephones and take messages or transfer calls
  • Schedule appointments and update event calendars
  • Arrange staff meetings
  • Handle incoming and outgoing mail and faxes
  • Prepare memos, invoices, or other reports
  • Edit documents
  • Maintain databases and filing systems, whether electronic or paper
  • Perform basic bookkeeping

Secretaries and administrative assistants perform a variety of clerical and administrative duties that are necessary to run an organization efficiently. They use computer software to create spreadsheets; manage databases; and prepare presentations, reports, and documents. They also may negotiate with vendors, buy supplies, and manage stockrooms or corporate libraries. Secretaries and administrative assistants also use videoconferencing, fax, and other office equipment. Specific job duties vary by experience, job title, and specialty.

Executive secretaries and executive administrative assistants provide high-level administrative support for an office and for top executives of an organization. They often handle more complex responsibilities, such as reviewing incoming documents, conducting research, and preparing reports. Some also supervise clerical staff.

Legal secretaries perform work requiring knowledge of legal terminology and procedures. They prepare legal documents, such as summonses, complaints, motions, and subpoenas under the supervision of an attorney or a paralegal. They also review legal journals and help with legal research—for example, by verifying quotes and citations in legal briefs.

Medical secretaries transcribe dictation and prepare reports or articles for physicians or medical scientists. They also take simple medical histories of patients, arrange for patients to be hospitalized, or process insurance payments. Medical secretaries need to be familiar with medical terminology and codes, medical records, and hospital or laboratory procedures.

Secretaries and administrative assistants, except legal, medical, and executive is the largest subcategory of secretaries and administrative assistants. They handle an office’s administrative activities in almost every sector of the economy, including schools, government, and private corporations. For example, secretaries in schools are often responsible for handling most of the communications among parents, students, the community, teachers, and school administrators. They schedule appointments, receive visitors, and keep track of students’ records.

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How To Become A Clerical Secretary

High school graduates who have experience using computer software applications, such as word processing and spreadsheets, usually qualify for entry-level positions. Although most secretaries learn their job in several weeks, many legal and medical secretaries require additional training to learn industry-specific terminology. Executive secretaries usually need several years of related work experience.

Education

High school graduates can take courses in word processing and office procedures at technical schools or community colleges. Some temporary placement agencies also provide training in word processing, spreadsheet, and database software.

Some medical and legal secretaries learn industry-specific terminology and practices by attending courses offered at community colleges or technical schools. For executive secretary positions, employers increasingly prefer to hire those who have taken some college courses or have a bachelor’s degree.

Training

Secretaries and administrative assistants typically learn their skills through short-term on-the-job training, usually lasting a few weeks. During this time they learn about administrative procedures, including how to prepare documents. Medical and legal secretaries’ training may last several months as they learn industry-specific terminology and practices.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Executive secretaries can gain experience by working in administrative positions that have less challenging responsibilities. Many secretaries and administrative assistants advance to higher level administrative positions.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Although not required, certification can demonstrate competency to employers.

The International Association of Administrative Professionals offers the Certified Administrative Professional (CAP) certification. Candidates must have a minimum of 2 to 4 years of administrative work experience, depending on their level of education, and pass an examination.

Legal secretaries have several certification options. For example, those with 1 year of general office experience, or who have completed an approved training course, can acquire the Accredited Legal Professional (ALP) certification through a testing process administered by NALS (previously known as National Association of Legal Secretaries). NALS also offers the Professional Legal Secretary (PLS) certification, considered to be an advanced certification for legal support professionals.

The Certified Legal Secretary Specialist (CLSS) certification is conferred by Legal Secretaries International in areas such as intellectual property, criminal law, civil litigation, probate, and business law. Candidates typically need to have 5 years of legal experience and pass an examination to become certified.

Advancement

Secretaries and administrative assistants generally advance to other administrative positions with more responsibilities, such as office supervisor, office manager, or executive secretary.

With additional training, many legal secretaries become paralegals or legal assistants.

Important Qualities

Integrity. Many secretaries and administrative assistants are trusted to handle sensitive information. For example, medical secretaries collect patient data that is required, by law, to be kept confidential in order to protect patient privacy.

Interpersonal skills. Secretaries and administrative assistants interact with clients, customers, or staff. They should communicate effectively and be courteous when interacting with others to create a positive work environment and client experience.

Organizational skills. Secretaries and administrative assistants keep files, folders, and schedules in proper order so an office can run efficiently.

Writing skills. Secretaries and administrative assistants write memos and emails when communicating with managers, employees, and customers. Therefore, they must have good grammar, ensure accuracy, and maintain a professional tone.

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Clerical Secretary Career Paths

Clerical Secretary
Secretary Legal Secretary Office Manager
Account Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Secretary Legal Secretary
Office Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Secretary Legal Assistant Executive Assistant
Senior Administrative Assistant
7 Yearsyrs
Office Assistant Accounts Payable Clerk Accountant
Accounting Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Office Assistant Executive Assistant Assistant Manager
Branch Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Office Assistant Executive Assistant
Senior Executive Assistant
8 Yearsyrs
Certified Nursing Assistant Team Leader Office Manager
Practice Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Certified Nursing Assistant Team Leader Owner
Co-Owner
6 Yearsyrs
Certified Nursing Assistant Team Leader Assistant Manager
Center Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Home Health Aid Tax Preparer Accountant
Accountant And Office Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Home Health Aid Consultant Office Manager
Business Office Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Home Health Aid Consultant Owner
Marketing Director
7 Yearsyrs
Medical Assistant Patient Care Coordinator Assistant Manager
Business Owner
6 Yearsyrs
Medical Assistant Coordinator Administrator
Administrative Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Medical Assistant Billing Specialist Accountant
Accounts Receivable Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Legal Secretary Owner Director
Director Of Human Resources
10 Yearsyrs
Substitute Teacher Consultant Account Manager
Client Services Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Substitute Teacher Coordinator Human Resources Generalist
Office Manager Of Human Resources
6 Yearsyrs
Substitute Teacher Legal Assistant Executive Secretary
Principal Secretary
7 Yearsyrs
Legal Assistant Executive Secretary Business Owner
Entrepreneur
5 Yearsyrs
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Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Division Secretary 4.0 years
Head Secretary 3.8 years
Service Secretary 3.4 years
Secretary 3.0 years
Clerical Secretary 3.0 years
Office Secretary 2.8 years
Clerical Staff 2.7 years
Clerical Worker 1.9 years
Clerical Aide 1.7 years
Top Careers Before Clerical Secretary
Cashier 12.4%
Secretary 11.2%
Server 2.9%
Internship 2.8%
Teller 2.7%
Top Careers After Clerical Secretary
Cashier 11.6%
Secretary 8.3%
Server 3.4%
Internship 2.2%
Teacher 1.8%

Do you work as a Clerical Secretary?

Clerical Secretary Demographics

Gender

Female

79.6%

Unknown

13.3%

Male

7.0%
Ethnicity

White

61.7%

Hispanic or Latino

17.3%

Black or African American

12.3%

Asian

5.4%

Unknown

3.2%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

68.0%

Portuguese

6.0%

French

6.0%

Chinese

4.0%

German

4.0%

Arabic

4.0%

Cantonese

2.0%

Carrier

2.0%

Mandarin

2.0%

Italian

2.0%
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Clerical Secretary Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

22.4%

Kaplan University

7.2%

Ashford University

5.6%

Houston Community College

4.8%

The Academy

4.8%

Kent State University

4.8%

Baker College

4.8%

Lamar University

4.0%

Miami Dade College

4.0%

Middlesex County College

4.0%

Youngstown State University

4.0%

Essex County College

4.0%

Argosy University-Phoenix

3.2%

New Jersey City University

3.2%

State University of New York College at Buffalo

3.2%

Rock Valley College

3.2%

Macomb Community College

3.2%

Monroe College

3.2%

Kean University

3.2%

University of Central Oklahoma

3.2%
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Majors

Business

24.4%

Health Care Administration

8.8%

Accounting

7.8%

Medical Assisting Services

6.4%

General Studies

5.2%

Psychology

5.2%

Nursing

5.0%

Secretarial And Administrative Science

4.3%

Criminal Justice

4.2%

Education

4.0%

Legal Support Services

3.5%

Liberal Arts

2.9%

Biology

2.8%

Communication

2.6%

Cosmetology

2.5%

Computer Science

2.2%

Elementary Education

2.1%

English

2.1%

Social Work

2.0%

General Education, Specific Areas

2.0%
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Degrees

Other

40.3%

Bachelors

23.9%

Associate

18.4%

Certificate

8.2%

Masters

5.5%

Diploma

2.7%

License

0.5%

Doctorate

0.5%
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Top Skills for A Clerical Secretary

  1. Phone Calls
  2. Scheduling Appointments
  3. Data Entry
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Keep files organized, schedule appointments, answer/make phone calls, handle e-mails, etc.
  • Performed clerical duties such as scheduling appointments, taking conference calls, as well as prepping patients for their optical exams.
  • Performed a wide variety of secretarial work from data entry for an accounting department to typing mortgage papers for a bank.
  • Maintained files, records and important legal documents on a weekly basis.
  • Planned and coordinated business services activities including budgeting, marketing and customer service activities.

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Top Clerical Secretary Employers

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