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Become A Department Secretary

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Working As A Department Secretary

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

  • Repetitive

  • $54,768

    Average Salary

What Does A Department 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 Department 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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Department Secretary Jobs

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Department Secretary Career Paths

Department Secretary
Office Manager Accounts Payable Clerk Staff Accountant
Accounting Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Office Administrator Accounts Payable Clerk Accounts Receivable Specialist
Accounts Receivable Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Medical Transcriptionist Registered Nurse Nursing Director
Administrative Director
8 Yearsyrs
Legal Secretary Paralegal Office Manager
Administrative Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Senior Secretary Administrator Secretary Administrative Coordinator
Administrative Supervisor
5 Yearsyrs
Executive Secretary Legal Assistant Office Manager
Business Office Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Legal Assistant Case Manager
Clinical Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Medical Transcriptionist Office Administrator Data Analyst
Data Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Medical Assistant Case Manager Admissions Coordinator
Director Of Admissions
7 Yearsyrs
Office Manager Human Resources Manager
Director Of Human Resources
10 Yearsyrs
Accounting Clerk Controller Chief Finance Officer
Entrepreneur
5 Yearsyrs
Medical Assistant Office Administrator Human Resources Coordinator
Executive Assistant/Human Resources
6 Yearsyrs
Administrator Secretary Office Manager
Executive Assistant/Office Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Office Administrator Human Resources Coordinator Human Resources Generalist
Human Resources Business Partner
10 Yearsyrs
Administrator Secretary Executive Secretary
Office Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Legal Secretary Executive Secretary Office Manager
Office Manager Of Human Resources
7 Yearsyrs
Executive Secretary Office Manager
Practice Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Legal Assistant Specialist Operations Manager
Service Director
10 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as a Department Secretary?

Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Senior Secretary 4.0 years
Division Secretary 3.6 years
Head Secretary 3.5 years
Service Secretary 3.3 years
Sales Secretary 3.1 years
Clerical Secretary 3.1 years
Program Secretary 3.0 years
Personal Secretary 2.9 years
Secretary 2.8 years
Project Secretary 2.6 years
Office Secretary 2.5 years
Top Employers Before
Secretary 15.4%
Cashier 3.4%
Clerk 2.6%
Teller 2.5%
Internship 2.4%
Top Employers After
Secretary 10.3%
Cashier 2.7%
Clerk 2.0%
Assistant 2.0%

Do you work as a Department Secretary?

Department Secretary Demographics

Gender

Female

90.7%

Male

7.3%

Unknown

2.0%
Ethnicity

White

61.8%

Hispanic or Latino

16.4%

Black or African American

11.4%

Asian

7.0%

Unknown

3.4%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

61.8%

French

11.2%

German

5.9%

Chinese

4.1%

Portuguese

2.9%

Italian

2.9%

Mandarin

2.4%

Cantonese

1.2%

Russian

1.2%

Icelandic

0.6%

Vietnamese

0.6%

Dakota

0.6%

Hebrew

0.6%

Japanese

0.6%

Greek

0.6%

Hindi

0.6%

Polish

0.6%

Korean

0.6%

Gujarati

0.6%

Arabic

0.6%
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Department Secretary Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

21.3%

Liberty University

8.4%

Houston Community College

5.8%

Indiana Wesleyan University

4.9%

Michigan State University

4.4%

Saint Louis Community College

4.4%

American InterContinental University

4.4%

Essex County College

4.4%

Ashford University

4.0%

Strayer University

4.0%

Community College of Allegheny County

4.0%

University of Houston

3.6%

Anne Arundel Community College

3.6%

Southern New Hampshire University

3.6%

Grand Canyon University

3.6%

Brigham Young University

3.1%

Henry Ford College

3.1%

Ferris State University

3.1%

University of Cincinnati

3.1%

Fort Hays State University

3.1%
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Majors

Business

28.9%

Health Care Administration

10.8%

Secretarial And Administrative Science

6.5%

Accounting

5.4%

Psychology

4.7%

Nursing

4.6%

Management

3.9%

English

3.5%

General Studies

3.4%

Legal Support Services

3.3%

Criminal Justice

3.2%

Human Resources Management

3.2%

Liberal Arts

2.7%

Education

2.6%

Communication

2.5%

Elementary Education

2.3%

Computer Science

2.3%

Medical Assisting Services

2.3%

General Education, Specific Areas

2.3%

Sociology

1.6%
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Degrees

Other

33.1%

Bachelors

27.5%

Associate

16.9%

Masters

11.3%

Certificate

7.9%

Diploma

2.0%

Doctorate

0.8%

License

0.5%
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Top Skills for A Department Secretary

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  1. Phone Calls
  2. Payroll
  3. Office Procedures
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Copied extensive documents, prioritized incoming mail and directed telephone calls.
  • Balanced and submitted payroll hours for 40-person unit * Transcribed patient progress notes, filed medical charts and processed insurance documentation
  • Perform general office duties including ordering supplies, maintaining records and maintenance of office procedures and record keeping systems.
  • Answered multiple phone lines, schedule appointments for patients per Doctors request.- Performed data entry.- Retrieved files for personnel.
  • Coordinated domestic & international travel arrangements, prepared itineraries & scheduled meetings.

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Top Department Secretary Employers

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Department Secretary Videos

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