Secretary Course and Class Descriptions

Courses are available for would-be general secretaries, as well as aspiring legal assistants or administrative medical assistants. These courses are generally taken as part of a full undergraduate program.

Essential Information

Secretarial courses are commonly part of diploma, certificate and associate's degree programs, and occasionally bachelor's degree programs. Secretarial studies programs are also called secretarial science, administrative assistant, general office assistant or executive assistant programs. Specialized programs include those for aspiring medical administrative assistants and legal administrative assistants. Hands-on training during classes is usually provided, and cooperative education is part of some programs.

Common secretary courses include those in keyboarding, word processing, business math, business English, records management, transcription and office operations. While general programs provide students with a variety of basic office skills, specialized programs include courses geared toward the medical or legal field. For example, medical secretary programs often cover medical transcription, medical terminology and medical coding, while legal assistant programs cover legal research and writing, litigation and contracts.

Overview of Courses

Descriptions of general courses that appear in a program geared toward secretaries are shown below.

Keyboarding and Word Processing Course

This required secretarial course introduces students to the alphanumeric keyboard, including function keys and 10-key numeric data entry, on a computer and sometimes a typewriter. Speed and accuracy is stressed. Students also become familiar with working from handwritten or electronic files.

Students in secretarial courses like this learn how to draft business letters, reports, statistical tables and business forms using Microsoft Office. Students in specialized medical or legal secretary programs may learn keyboarding for additional specialty software programs as required.

Mathematics for Business Course

Business math skills include the ability to perform arithmetic and understand basic financial transactions. Bookkeeping and accounting skills are also taught, along with how to perform inventory. Some programs may require this course.

English for Business Course

Strong communication skills are vital for secretarial professionals, including good grammar, punctuation, vocabulary and spelling. English courses generally include the development of reading comprehension skills and expository writing ability. This course is required in some programs.

Transcription Course

A transcription course is a core class in most programs. Transcription includes both operating the transcription or dictation equipment and creating a written record of spoken communication. Students learn to transcribe quickly and with a minimum of errors.

Records Management for Business Course

Secretarial skills include knowing the principles of creation, storage, maintenance and disposition of paper and electronic records and files. Filing and sorting systems are explored. Records management classes are required by some secretary courses.

Office Operations Course

Students are introduced to basic office work flow, proper e-mail, Internet and telephone protocols, preparing business documents like correspondence and reports, booking meetings, welcoming visitors and collaboration with colleagues. The use of business machines, including postage meters, telephone systems, fax machines and photocopy machines, is introduced. Students also learn business ethics in this required class.

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