Certificate programs usually consist of 10 or fewer courses and focus entirely on office administration skills. Associate's degree programs, which usually take two years to complete, consist of many of the same courses, with the addition of a few general education courses such as English composition. Students in an associate's degree program may be able to choose a few courses in either medical or legal office work. Both programs fulfill the education requirements to take the Certified Professional Secretary exam. Programs require that students have their high school diploma or GED in order to be considered for admission.
The curriculum prepares students to assist customers, employees and supervisors in a professional office environment by making appointments, answering phones, typing correspondence, filing paperwork and creating spreadsheets and other business documents. Coursework includes training in basic office skills like typing, word processing, computer applications and business communications. A general office skills course teaches students to use office equipment, manage a front office, maintain an organized working space and use interpersonal skills to communicate with customers and employees. Admittance requires a high school diploma or GED. Coursework prepares students to demonstrate professionalism, make ethical decisions and assist in managing the daily operations of a business office. Coursework includes:
- Speed writing
- Office technology
- Computer software
Associate of Applied Science in Secretarial Science
An associate's degree program in secretarial science explores the functions and duties of a secretary, as well as the technologies they commonly use in a business office, including computers and fax machines. Students learn to type with speed and accuracy and transcribe meetings and correspondence with a cassette transcription device. Topics of discussion include telephone communication, spreadsheet and database software presentations and desktop publishing. The curriculum also includes studies in written and oral communications and office management. Prospective students who hold a high school diploma or GED certificate are eligible to enroll in the program. Students learn to type business letters and correspondence and use computer applications to make appointments, maintain records and create spreadsheets and presentations. Courses include:
- Financial accounting
- Business ethics
- Principles of management
Popular Career Options
Graduates find employment in a variety of settings, including businesses, physicians' offices, hospitals, schools and more. Popular careers choices for graduates include:
- Data entry clerk
- Administrative assistant
- File clerk
Continuing Education Information
Graduates are eligible to sit for the Certified Professional Secretary (CPS) exam, administered by the International Association of Administrative Professionals. A CPS is required to complete 90 continuing education points every five years to maintain his or her certification.
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), secretaries and administrative assistants held almost 4 million jobs in the U.S. in 2014. The BLS also reports that jobs in this profession will grow 3% from 2014-2024. The median annual salary for a secretary or administrative assistant in May 2015 was $36,500.
For students interested in entering the field of secretarial science, there are a couple of certificate and associate's programs that students can complete to gain practical skills, like typing and dictation, in order to be successful in the industry.