Professional Secretary Certification & Certificate Programs

Also referred to as an administrative assistant program, a secretary certificate program prepares students for a broad range of careers in the secretarial field. Keep reading to learn about these employment options as well as the certifications available to experienced professionals.

Essential Information

Secretary certificate programs cover a variety of computer and organizational skills necessary for entering the field. These certificate programs also prepare students to earn software-specific certification as well as credentials from professional secretary organizations. Certificate programs typically last 1-2 years and require a high school diploma for admission.

Professional Secretary Certification

Modern secretary certificate programs address a variety of software packages necessary to organize data in a modern office. Some programs even require students to take courses that lead to individual Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) certifications in Excel, Word, Outlook, PowerPoint, or Access. Other common coursework includes:

  • Keyboarding
  • Transcription
  • Office procedures
  • Word processing
  • Basic accounting

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

The field for secretaries is expected to grow by 3% from 2014-2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistic (BLS). The median salary for a secretary was $36,500 as of 2015 (www.bls.gov), with the highest 10% of secretaries earning in excess of $60,640.

Continuing Education

Secretary certificate programs are only the beginning of demonstrating knowledge in office procedures. Various organizations, such as the International Association of Administrative Professionals (www.iaap-hq.org), offer industry certification such as the 3-part Certified Professional Secretary (CPS) and 4-part Certified Administrative Professional (CAP) exams.

Secretaries in the legal and medical fields have separate certifications, and they are classified differently by the BLS. Legal secretaries can earn a certification from the National Association of Legal Secretaries (NALS) by passing a 3-part exam on legal procedures as well as written communications, ethics and judgment. Secretaries can also become Certified Legal Secretary Specialists and build their specialized legal knowledge in areas such as business law, civil litigation, and intellectual property. According to the BLS, there were about 215,500 legal secretaries working in 2014.

Medical secretaries don't have a larger, well-recognized certification body, but students looking to enter this field generally require specialized instruction. Some associate degree programs will emphasize medical terminology or coding, which is intended to augment their regular secretarial training. In 2014, there were around 527,600 medical secretaries employed.

Students who complete secretary certificate programs can work in several different fields, and employment was expected to grow slightly over the 2014-2024 decade. These programs can be entered with a high-school diploma or equivalent.

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