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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

  • $40,000

    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
Legal Secretary Paralegal Office Manager
Account Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Medical Transcriptionist Billing Specialist Human Resources Coordinator
Chief Executive Officer
8 Yearsyrs
Billing Specialist Office Administrator Operations Manager
Chief Operating Officer
11 Yearsyrs
Medical Transcriptionist Registered Nurse Staff Nurse
Clinical Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Office Manager Human Resources Coordinator
Director Of Human Resources
10 Yearsyrs
Human Resources Coordinator Specialist Account Manager
District Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Office Administrator Accounts Payable Clerk Accountant
Finance Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Legal Assistant Program Coordinator Event Manager
Food And Beverage Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Office Manager Operations Manager
General Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Executive Secretary Human Resources Coordinator
Human Resources Business Partner
10 Yearsyrs
Administrator Secretary Executive Secretary
Office Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Executive Secretary Office Manager Operations Manager
Operations Director
9 Yearsyrs
Administrator Secretary Office Manager
Operations Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Accounting Clerk Accounts Payable Clerk Payroll Specialist
Payroll Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Legal Assistant Legal Secretary Office Manager
Practice Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Accounting Clerk Controller General Manager
President/Chief Executive Officer
10 Yearsyrs
Office Administrator Human Resources Assistant Human Resources Coordinator
Program Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Legal Secretary Executive Secretary Office Manager
Property Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Billing Specialist Specialist Operations Manager
Purchasing Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Human Resources Coordinator Project Manager Program Manager
Senior Manager
10 Yearsyrs
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Average Length of Employment
Ward Secretary 4.2 years
Legal Secretary 4.2 years
Senior Secretary 4.0 years
School Secretary 3.8 years
Branch Secretary 3.8 years
Parish Secretary 3.7 years
Clerk Typist 3.6 years
Hospital Secretary 3.6 years
Division Secretary 3.5 years
Head Secretary 3.5 years
Church Secretary 3.5 years
Unit Secretary 3.5 years
Payroll Secretary 3.3 years
Clerk Secretary 3.3 years
Service Secretary 3.3 years
Clerical Secretary 3.1 years
Sales Secretary 3.0 years
Program Secretary 3.0 years
Personal Secretary 2.9 years
Dental Secretary 2.9 years
Secretary 2.8 years
Office Specialist 2.8 years
Clinical Secretary 2.8 years
Field Secretary 2.7 years
Law Secretary 2.6 years
General Secretary 2.6 years
Project Secretary 2.6 years
Staff Assistant 2.6 years
Office Secretary 2.5 years
Junior Secretary 2.4 years
Business Assistant 2.3 years
Team Assistant 2.1 years
Top Employers Before
Secretary 14.1%
Cashier 3.5%
Clerk 2.6%
Internship 2.4%
Top Employers After
Secretary 9.5%
Cashier 2.6%

Department Secretary Demographics

Gender

Female

90.6%

Male

7.3%

Unknown

2.1%
Ethnicity

White

79.1%

Hispanic or Latino

12.0%

Asian

6.7%

Unknown

1.6%

Black or African American

0.6%
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Languages Spoken

Spanish

62.8%

French

10.9%

German

6.4%

Chinese

3.8%

Portuguese

3.2%

Italian

3.2%

Russian

1.3%

Mandarin

1.3%

Icelandic

0.6%

Vietnamese

0.6%

Dakota

0.6%

Cantonese

0.6%

Hebrew

0.6%

Japanese

0.6%

Greek

0.6%

Ukrainian

0.6%

Polish

0.6%

Korean

0.6%

Arabic

0.6%
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Department Secretary Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

20.5%

Liberty University

8.8%

Houston Community College

5.1%

Michigan State University

4.7%

Ashford University

4.7%

Essex County College

4.7%

Indiana Wesleyan University

4.7%

Brigham Young University

4.2%

American InterContinental University

4.2%

Strayer University

4.2%

Saint Louis Community College

3.7%

Oakland Community College

3.7%

University of Houston

3.7%

Kaplan University

3.7%

Henry Ford College

3.3%

University of Cincinnati

3.3%

University of Southern Mississippi

3.3%

Walden University

3.3%

Mohawk Valley Community College

3.3%

Anne Arundel Community College

3.3%
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Majors

Business

28.5%

Health Care Administration

10.7%

Secretarial And Administrative Science

6.0%

Accounting

5.5%

Psychology

5.1%

Nursing

4.7%

Management

3.9%

Legal Support Services

3.7%

English

3.5%

General Studies

3.5%

Human Resources Management

3.2%

Criminal Justice

3.1%

Education

2.8%

Liberal Arts

2.6%

Communication

2.4%

Medical Assisting Services

2.4%

Elementary Education

2.3%

Computer Science

2.2%

General Education, Specific Areas

2.2%

Computer Information Systems

1.8%
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Degrees

Other

32.8%

Bachelors

28.5%

Associate

16.9%

Masters

11.1%

Certificate

7.6%

Diploma

1.9%

Doctorate

0.8%

License

0.5%
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Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary

Top Skills for A Department Secretary

PayrollTelephoneCallsOfficeProceduresDataEntryCustomerServiceTravelArrangementsPhoneCallsMeetingMinutesMedicalRecordsSchedulingAppointmentsSecretarialSupportPurchaseOrdersOfficeEquipmentExpenseReportsWordProcessingPowerpointSafetyScheduleMeetingsEmergencySupervisors

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Top Department Secretary Skills

  1. Payroll
  2. Telephone Calls
  3. Office Procedures
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Received Time Sheets from both department clerks and checked them for accuracy before submitting to the Payroll Office.
  • Handled telephone calls from parents and district personnel.
  • Perform general office duties including ordering supplies, maintaining records and maintenance of office procedures and record keeping systems.
  • Review and data entry monthly inventory sheets for all the above mention facilities.
  • Handled customer service issues/patient complaints.

Top Department Secretary Employers

Department Secretary Videos

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