Career Development

What Does a Secretary Do?

Find out what a secretary does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as a secretary.

A secretary is a professional who supports an organization by performing clerical and administrative tasks. They are often the glue that holds an office together, ensuring that meetings run smoothly, documents are properly formatted, and deadlines are met on time.

Secretaries typically have a wide range of responsibilities, but they’re commonly tasked with taking notes during meetings, typing up memos or reports from their boss, filing paperwork, scheduling appointments, answering phones, etc.

Secretary Job Duties

Secretaries have a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Providing administrative support to executives by answering phones, scheduling appointments, and greeting visitors
  • Preparing, reviewing, and filing reports such as expense reports or time sheets
  • Coordinating activities with other departments or personnel within the organization
  • Maintaining filing systems for records such as medical records or financial records
  • Managing calendars and arranging meetings for senior management
  • Taking notes during meetings and updating meeting agendas to reflect actions items and next steps
  • Scheduling travel arrangements for executives and staff members
  • Organizing and maintaining executive’s schedules and calendar of events
  • Performing clerical functions such as typing letters, making copies, filing documents, and answering phones

Secretary Salary & Outlook

Secretaries’ salaries vary depending on their level of education and experience, the company size and geographic location.

  • Median Annual Salary: $41,500 ($19.95/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $70,500 ($33.89/hour)

The employment of secretaries is expected to decline over the next decade.

Employment of secretaries is projected to decline because fewer secretaries are expected to be needed in their traditional role as a gatekeeper for information and access to higher-level employees. As technology improves, more tasks traditionally done by secretaries will be automated, such as data collection and word processing.

Secretary Job Requirements

A position as a secretary may require the following:

Education: While there are no specific education requirements for an entry-level secretary job, many employers prefer to hire candidates who have completed at least a high school diploma or GED. Some employers may prefer to hire candidates who have completed an associate or bachelor’s degree. Those who have completed a degree in business, communications or another related field may have an advantage when applying for secretary positions.

Training & Experience: Secretaries usually receive on-the-job training from their supervisors or other experienced office staff. This training may include learning office software, office procedures and office etiquette.

Certifications & Licenses: Not all employers require their secretaries to be certified but earning one of these credentials could help you learn more about the role and make you a more appealing applicant.

Secretary Skills

Secretaries need the following skills in order to be successful:

Organization: Organization is another skill that can help you succeed in a leadership role. As an executive assistant, you may be responsible for managing the calendar of your manager, which requires you to be organized. You may also be responsible for managing files and documents, which requires you to be able to find what you need when you need it.

Communication: Communication is the act of conveying information to others. As a secretary, you may be the first point of contact for many people, including the CEO. You may also be responsible for relaying messages to other departments. Effective communication is an important skill for a secretary to have. You may also be responsible for writing memos, emails and other correspondence.

Computer skills: Many companies use computer programs to manage their daily operations. As a secretary, you may be responsible for entering data into a computer system, creating spreadsheets or other documents and maintaining records. Having strong computer skills can help you perform your job duties efficiently.

Attention to detail: Attention to detail is the ability to notice small changes and errors. As an executive assistant, you may notice small details that affect the quality of a project or presentation. This skill can help you notice errors and make corrections before they affect the company’s reputation. It can also help you notice small changes in a project that may require additional resources.

Teamwork: Teamwork is the ability to work with others to achieve a common goal. As a secretary, you may work with a variety of people, including other secretaries, managers, executives and other support staff. Your ability to work with others can help you develop positive relationships and encourage collaboration.

Secretary Work Environment

The work environment for secretaries is usually pleasant and businesslike. Most secretaries work in well-lit, clean offices, and have access to the latest office equipment. Many secretaries work in large organizations in which they have contact with people from all levels of the organization. In smaller organizations, secretaries may have more personal contact with the people they work for and with those who do business with the organization. In all cases, secretaries must be able to work well with others and maintain a high level of confidentiality. They also must be able to work under pressure and meet deadlines. Most secretaries work a standard 40-hour week, although they may be required to work overtime to complete special projects or to cover for absent colleagues.

Secretary Trends

Here are three trends influencing how secretaries work. Secretaries will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

The Rise of the Virtual Assistant

The rise of the virtual assistant is a trend that is quickly changing the way businesses operate. As technology advances, more and more tasks can be done remotely, which allows businesses to save money on office space and employee costs.

Virtual assistants are professionals who provide a variety of services, such as administrative support, customer service, and project management. They are often hired by businesses to help with day-to-day operations, freeing up the company’s employees to focus on other tasks.

Secretary professionals can take advantage of this trend by becoming virtual assistants themselves. This will allow them to work for multiple clients at once, increasing their opportunities for success. In addition, secretaries can learn how to use technology to streamline their work, such as using online tools to manage schedules and communicate with clients.

More Focus on Customer Service

As businesses become more focused on customer service, secretaries will need to adapt in order to stay competitive.

Secretary professionals will need to develop strong customer service skills in order to meet the needs of their clients. This includes being able to handle difficult situations, such as complaints, and being able to communicate effectively with customers. In addition, secretaries will need to be familiar with a variety of software programs that can help them manage their clients’ data.

Greater Use of Technology

Technology is playing an increasingly important role in the workplace, and this is having a significant impact on the role of the secretary.

As technology becomes more prevalent, secretaries are being asked to do more than just answer phones and type up documents. They are now responsible for managing calendars, organizing files, and providing customer service. In order to be successful in the future, secretaries will need to be comfortable using technology and be able to find ways to utilize it in their jobs.

How to Become a Secretary

A secretary’s career path can be very rewarding. As you progress in your career, you may want to consider becoming a executive secretary or even a chief administrative officer (CAO). Both of these positions require advanced skills and experience.

You can also move into other areas of business administration, such as human resources or information technology. These fields offer many opportunities for growth and advancement.

Related: How to Write a Secretary Resume

Advancement Prospects

The best way to advance as a secretary is to get more education and training. With more education, you will be able to apply for higher-level positions, such as executive secretary, administrative assistant, or even office manager. You can also get more education in order to specialize in a certain area, such as medical or legal secretarial work. In addition, many companies offer training programs for secretaries who want to move up within the company. These programs can give you the skills and knowledge you need to be promoted to a higher-level position.

Secretary Job Description Example

At [CompanyX], we are a team of professionals who work together to provide high-quality services to our clients. We are currently seeking a secretary to join our team and provide administrative support to our staff. The ideal candidate for this position is a highly organized and efficient individual who is able to multitask and handle a variety of tasks simultaneously. He or she must be able to work independently and be proactive in taking on new assignments. The secretary will be responsible for a variety of tasks, including answering phones, taking messages, scheduling appointments, preparing correspondence, and maintaining files.

Duties & Responsibilities

  • Answer and direct phone calls in a professional manner
  • Greet and assist visitors in a hospitable manner
  • Handle incoming and outgoing mail
  • Maintain filing systems
  • Prepare correspondence, reports, and other documents
  • Schedule appointments and maintain calendars
  • Make travel arrangements
  • Process expense reports
  • Manage projects as assigned
  • Perform data entry and word processing
  • Provide general administrative support to the office
  • Photocopy and collate documents as needed

Required Skills and Qualifications

  • High school diploma or equivalent
  • Proven secretarial experience
  • Solid written and verbal communication skills
  • Proficient in Microsoft Office, with aptitude to learn new software and systems
  • Excellent organizational skills and attention to detail
  • Ability to handle confidential information discreetly and professionally

Preferred Skills and Qualifications

  • Associate’s degree or higher
  • Bilingual (fluent in English and another language)
  • Previous experience working in a law firm or other professional office environment
  • Legal secretary certification
  • Notary public certification

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