A secretary is a broad term for an occupation that involves daily office operations or organizational services. A secretary can find work at a number of different businesses and locations. If you have an eye for detail and good organization skills, the following information will go over educational prerequisites, job outlooks, and certification information for secretaries in a variety of fields.
Employed in such workplaces as schools, medical facilities, law offices and corporate offices, professional secretaries ensure that office operations run smoothly and efficiently. On a typical day, these professionals may schedule meetings, organize files and manage databases. Entry-level positions generally require a high school diploma with some on-the-job training, although individuals can complete clerical coursework at a college. All secretaries need to have computer and office skills, while medical and legal secretaries also need some industry-specific knowledge. Certification for secretaries is optional, but it can help them stand out in the field.
|Required Education||High school diploma with on-the-job training for entry-level positions; optional completion of clerical coursework or program|
|Required Skills||Computer skills and office skills; industry-specific knowledge for medical and legal secretaries|
|Certification||Optional certification through organizations for administrative professionals|
|Projected Job Growth||3% from 2014-2024 for secretaries and administrative assistants*|
|Median Salary (May 2015)||$36,500 annually for secretaries and administrative assistants*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Job Duties of Professional Secretaries
Professional secretaries, also known as administrative assistants or executive assistants, assist executives, administrators and other office workers. They have both information management and clerical duties. Specific job tasks include maintaining databases, composing correspondence and organizing meetings and conference calls.
Professional secretaries may work in a specific industry. For example, medical secretaries perform medical transcription, manage patient files, compose correspondence and assist in writing medical reports. Legal secretaries prepare subpoenas, motions, appeals and other legal documents. Legal secretaries are often supervised by lawyers and paralegals.
Most positions for professional secretaries are hourly rather than salaried. However, full-time professional secretaries usually receive benefits and leave. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most legal secretaries earned between $26,760 and $72,890 in May 2015, while most medical secretaries earned between $22,610 and $48,670 annually. While the median salary for all secretaries and administrative assistants was reported as $36,500 in May 2015, secretaries and administrative assistants excluding legal, medical and executive made a median salary of $33,910.
Professional secretaries with certification may increase their chances at a higher overall wage. Certification is offered through the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP), the International Virtual Assistants Association (IVAA) and other organizations.
Professional secretaries often find employment in corporate offices, schools, hospitals, government agencies, legal offices and home offices. Professional secretaries who offer freelance secretarial services from a home office are called virtual assistants.
Professional secretaries with advanced training or certification can become office managers, senior executive assistants or senior administrative assistants. With additional training, medical secretaries can become medical practice managers. Legal secretaries often go on to become paralegals.
A job as a professional secretary can often open doors to other career paths. You can work in a variety of environments, from medical clinics to legal offices. While there are no educational prerequisites, most secretarial positions require extensive on-the-job training and certification can improve your employment prospects.