Secretary School and College Program Overviews

Secretaries handle many aspects of day-to-day office life, from compiling spreadsheets and using office technology to maintaining business communications. Learn about what an administrative support program for prospective secretaries entails.

Essential Information

A 2-year associate's program in administrative support, administrative assistance or administrative science teaches students how to perform the basic administrative tasks necessary to land entry-level secretarial employment. Although not all companies require that administrative assistants and secretaries hold associate's degrees, it is becoming more and more frequent to hire educated professionals for office support positions. A high school diploma or GED is required for these courses, and most programs require applicants to be at least 16 years old and ask for a one-year or two-year commitment from incoming students.

Administrative Support Programs

Courses in administrative support programs focus mostly on the practical skills required of secretaries. These courses include the following:

  • Typing, and other office technologies, including Microsoft Office Suite
  • Recordkeeping and basic accounting
  • Business computing and document processing
  • Communication
  • Integrated office systems
  • Electives specializing in medical or legal offices

Employment and Career Outlook

The job growth rate for secretaries was expected to increase 3% between 2014 and 2024, which is a slower-than-average growth rate, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Turnover in the field is high, as many individuals begin as assistants and work their way up. As office technologies continue to evolve, there is less of a need for secretaries and individuals with higher education will be more likely to gain employment. In 2015, office support professionals earned a median annual salary of $33,910, according to the BLS (www.bls.gov).

To become a secretary, you need to obtain a high school education and then enroll in an administrative support program. Gaining proficiency with office technology will be an advantage as automated services reduces the need for human workers.

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