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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.
Hispanic or Latino10.1%
Black or African American0.9%
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Average Length of Employment
University of Wisconsin - Madison10.1%
University of Phoenix9.9%
University of Wisconsin Extension8.4%
George Washington University7.2%
University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee6.8%
New York University5.2%
University of New Mexico4.6%
George Mason University4.1%
Pennsylvania State University3.8%
University of Houston3.7%
Michigan State University3.6%
Johns Hopkins University3.6%
University of Florida3.4%
University of Southern California3.4%
University of Maryland - College Park3.1%
Unfortunately we don’t have enough data for this section.
|Job Title||Company||Location||Start Date||Salary|
|Project Assistant||Medical Care Development International||Silver Spring, MD||Aug 20, 2012||$83,512|
|Clinical Project Assistant||Populus Group LLC||Foster City, CA||Feb 09, 2016||$73,045|
|Clinical Project Assistant||Populus Group LLC||Foster City, CA||Aug 27, 2016||$73,045|
|Regulatory Project Assistant||Astrazeneca LP||Gaithersburg, MD||Sep 14, 2016||$68,058 -
|Engineering Project Assistant||Integrated Logistical Support, Inc.||New Orleans, LA||May 08, 2016||$67,330|
|Engineering Project Assistant||Integrated Logistical Support, Inc. (ILSI Engineering)||New Orleans, LA||Aug 24, 2016||$67,330|
|Clinical Project Assistant-Oncology||On Assignment, Inc.||Florham Park, NJ||Apr 04, 2011||$65,000|
|SR. Project Assistant||Moody Nolan Dc, LLC||Washington, DC||Mar 15, 2011||$65,000|
|Project Assistant (SQL Developer)||FTI, LLC||Washington, DC||Oct 28, 2010||$64,085 -
|Senior Clinical Project Assistant||Clindatrix, Inc.||Irvine, CA||Aug 29, 2013||$58,000|
|Engineering Project Assistant||Integrated Logistical Support, Inc. (ILSI Engineering)||New Orleans, LA||Sep 10, 2015||$55,016|
|Project Assistant (ART Curator)||URS Corporation||New York, NY||Oct 19, 2009||$52,175|
|Operations Coordinator and Project Assistant||Virgin Healthmiles, Inc.||Framingham, MA||Nov 09, 2009||$50,400|
|SR. Project Assistant||Moody*Nolan, Inc.||Columbus, OH||Sep 01, 2009||$50,000 -
|Research Project Assistant||Northwestern University||Chicago, IL||May 01, 2014||$49,000|
|Assistant Project||Cvent, Inc.||McLean, VA||Oct 01, 2015||$45,090|
|Research Project Assistant||Northwestern University||Chicago, IL||Apr 01, 2014||$44,500|
|Space Planner and Project Assistant||Vitra, Inc.||Allentown, PA||Sep 10, 2014||$44,000|
|Executive Project Assistant||University of Nebraska at Omaha||Omaha, NE||Nov 19, 2015||$43,800|
|Project Assistant||Center for Cultural and Technical Interchange BETW||Washington, DC||Jun 01, 2010||$43,616|
|Cultural Heritage Projects Assistant||Smithsonian Institution||Washington, DC||Sep 28, 2015||$43,057|
|Project Assistant||Center for Cultural and Technical Interchange BETW||Washington, DC||May 01, 2014||$42,631|
|Design & Development Project Assistant||Urbanica, Incorporated||Boston, MA||Oct 01, 2012||$42,000|
|Design and Development Project Assistant||Urbanica, Incorporated||Boston, MA||Oct 01, 2012||$42,000|
|Project Assistant||Montana State University||Bozeman, MT||Aug 02, 2012||$42,000|
|Project Assistant||Light and Salt Association||Houston, TX||Dec 09, 2016||$40,947|
|Project Assistant||Center for Applied Linguistics||Washington, DC||Jun 01, 2011||$40,810|
|Project Assistant-Japan||Arbor Research Collaborative for Health||Ann Arbor, MI||Sep 01, 2011||$40,587|
|International Project Assistant||Education Development Center, Inc.||Newton, MA||Jun 21, 2010||$40,352|
|International Project Assistant||Education Development Center, Inc.||Newton, MA||Jun 28, 2010||$40,352|
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