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Become A Secretary

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Working As A Secretary

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

  • Repetitive

  • $35,477

    Average Salary

What Does A 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 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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Secretary jobs

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Secretary Career Paths

Average Length of Employment
Private Secretary 4.5 years
Ward Secretary 4.2 years
Legal Secretary 4.2 years
Senior Clerk 4.1 years
Senior Secretary 4.0 years
Loan Secretary 4.0 years
Branch Secretary 3.8 years
School Secretary 3.8 years
Finance Secretary 3.7 years
Parish Secretary 3.7 years
City Secretary 3.7 years
Clerk Typist 3.6 years
Hospital Secretary 3.6 years
Head Secretary 3.5 years
Division Secretary 3.5 years
Unit Secretary 3.5 years
Church Secretary 3.5 years
Escrow Secretary 3.5 years
Area Secretary 3.4 years
Service Secretary 3.3 years
Payroll Secretary 3.3 years
Clerk Secretary 3.3 years
Social Secretary 3.1 years
Clerical Secretary 3.1 years
Sales Secretary 3.0 years
Typing Secretary 3.0 years
Secretary 3.0 years
Program Secretary 3.0 years
Personal Secretary 2.9 years
Dental Secretary 2.9 years
Typist 2.8 years
Office Specialist 2.8 years
Clinical Secretary 2.8 years
Office Associate 2.7 years
Field Secretary 2.7 years
Law Secretary 2.6 years
National Secretary 2.6 years
General Secretary 2.6 years
Project Secretary 2.6 years
Staff Assistant 2.6 years
Office Secretary 2.5 years
Office Assistance 2.4 years
Press Secretary 2.4 years
Junior Secretary 2.4 years
Business Assistant 2.3 years
Clerk 2.3 years
Office Clerk 2.2 years
Office Assistant 2.0 years
General Assistant 2.0 years
Assistant 1.9 years
Clerk/Assistant 1.9 years
Legal Receptionist 1.9 years
Alumni Secretary 1.8 years
Alumnae Secretary 1.6 years
Clerical Aide 1.6 years
Top Employers Before
Cashier 11.9%
Internship 5.6%
Volunteer 4.1%
Clerk 3.6%
Waitress 3.2%
Manager 2.6%
Server 2.3%
Teacher 2.2%
Top Employers After
Cashier 8.9%
Internship 5.0%
Volunteer 3.4%
Manager 3.0%
Server 2.9%
Teacher 2.8%
President 2.4%
Clerk 2.4%
Waitress 2.2%

Secretary Demographics

Gender

Female

87.5%

Male

10.3%

Unknown

2.2%
Ethnicity

White

77.8%

Hispanic or Latino

12.9%

Asian

7.1%

Unknown

1.6%

Black or African American

0.6%
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Languages Spoken

Spanish

60.0%

French

9.4%

Chinese

3.1%

Mandarin

3.0%

German

2.9%

Arabic

2.9%

Portuguese

2.6%

Italian

2.4%

Russian

2.3%

Japanese

2.1%

Hindi

1.8%

Korean

1.7%

Cantonese

1.1%

Urdu

1.0%

Vietnamese

0.8%

Polish

0.7%

Tagalog

0.7%

Greek

0.6%

Hebrew

0.5%

Gujarati

0.4%
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Secretary Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

23.1%

Liberty University

7.7%

Kaplan University

6.5%

Ashford University

6.1%

Grand Canyon University

5.3%

Strayer University

4.6%

Miami Dade College

4.2%

Southern New Hampshire University

3.8%

Hinds Community College

3.4%

American InterContinental University

3.4%

West Virginia University

3.4%

Troy University

3.4%

Ultimate Medical Academy - Clearwater

3.3%

Pennsylvania State University

3.3%

Houston Community College

3.3%

University of Alabama

3.1%

Florida State University

3.0%

University of Southern Mississippi

3.0%

Michigan State University

3.0%

Florida International University

2.9%
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Majors

Business

25.5%

Accounting

7.4%

Psychology

7.4%

Health Care Administration

7.1%

Nursing

5.8%

Criminal Justice

5.6%

Education

3.5%

Medical Assisting Services

3.5%

General Studies

3.4%

Secretarial And Administrative Science

3.4%

Legal Support Services

3.3%

Communication

3.3%

English

3.2%

Management

3.0%

Liberal Arts

2.7%

Elementary Education

2.5%

Biology

2.5%

Human Resources Management

2.3%

Computer Science

2.3%

Social Work

2.1%
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Degrees

Bachelors

34.1%

Other

32.3%

Associate

14.7%

Masters

8.9%

Certificate

6.0%

Diploma

2.2%

Doctorate

1.2%

License

0.6%
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Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary

Real Secretary Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Secretary Lynn Marie Rondeau Baltimore, MD Mar 01, 2012 $80,400 -
$90,000
Secretary Uniform Kingdom Inc. Carson, CA Sep 15, 2016 $53,206
Secretary Rafalo Corporation Chicago, IL Jul 14, 2016 $50,088
Bi-Lingual Secretary (Spanish/English) Tuan Nguyen, DDS, PC Fairfax, VA Sep 11, 2009 $46,446
Secretary Shinobi Ny LLC D/B/A Ninja Restaurant New York, NY May 18, 2016 $46,218
Secretary Law Office of Yunsung Choi, P.C. NY Apr 17, 2015 $45,800
Secretaries Mosquera, Inc. Herndon, VA May 01, 2008 $45,017
Secretary Akropolis Marble & Granite, LLC Beltsville, MD Nov 06, 2009 $45,017
Secretaries R.G. Ortiz Funeral Home Inc. New York, NY Sep 06, 2011 $44,599
Secretary Anton R E Richardson Los Angeles, CA Mar 30, 2016 $44,554
Secretaries Diversified Transportation Services, Inc. Hyattsville, MD Jan 09, 2008 $43,556
Legislative Secretary Maryland General Assembly/Dept. of Legislative SVC Annapolis, MD Jan 06, 2011 $43,556
Secretary Manto de Guadalupe, Inc. Los Angeles, CA Jan 27, 2015 $43,056
Secretary Ada Clinical Management Services, Inc. NY Apr 22, 2016 $42,682
Secretary Law Office of Steven Elias New York, NY Apr 13, 2011 $38,964
Secretary Sean S. Bahri, Md, Inc. Newport Beach, CA Sep 11, 2015 $38,792 -
$38,795
Secretary Saint Hedwig Parish Trenton, NJ Feb 26, 2010 $38,714
Secretaries Robert's Fence Co. Inc. Islandia, NY Sep 27, 2012 $38,626
Secretary Law Offices of Crispin Lozano Bellflower, CA Mar 29, 2011 $38,463
Secretary New Covenant Southern Baptist Church Torrance, CA Apr 01, 2011 $38,463
Secretary Synergy Financial Holdings Group, Inc. Gardena, CA Nov 10, 2016 $38,459
Secretary, Bi-Lingual Beno Stucco Systems, Corp. Rochelle Park, NJ Dec 18, 2009 $38,234
Secretary Quiet Technology Aerospace Opa-locka, FL Jan 09, 2008 $33,392
Secretary Danielle Brisebois CA Jan 12, 2010 $33,121
Secretary Greek Orthodox Community Saint Gerasimos Inc. New York, NY Jan 08, 2009 $33,058
Import/Export Secretary Lux Trim Inc. Los Angeles, CA Feb 20, 2008 $32,870
Secretary ALFA International Seafood, Inc. Medley, FL Feb 20, 2009 $32,349
Secretary Bander & Associates, P.A. Miami, FL Mar 30, 2009 $32,349
Secretary C & A, Inc. Bladensburg, MD Dec 16, 2008 $32,349
Secretary El 7 Mares Restaurant Los Angeles, CA Dec 31, 2007 $32,328

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Top Skills for A Secretary

OutgoingCorrespondenceWeeklyPayrollTelephoneCallsCustomerServiceDataEntryPhoneCallsPersonnelFilesSchedulingAppointmentsFinancialStatementsOfficeSuppliesTravelArrangementsOfficeEquipmentWordProcessingPurchaseOrdersQuickbooksPowerpointAppropriatePersonsMeetingMinutesFaxMachinesBankDeposits

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Top Secretary Skills

  1. Outgoing Correspondence
  2. Weekly Payroll
  3. Telephone Calls
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Received and reviewed incoming correspondence and reviewed and prepared outgoing correspondence.
  • Process weekly payroll and related payroll information using QuickBooks system.
  • Answered all telephone calls and emails.
  • Provided outstanding customer service by exercising a pleasant personality, especially when speaking with customers.
  • Collected and recorded data, and completed various data entry tasks.

Top Secretary Employers