Secretary Job Description

Salary: $24,700 – $38,200 Number of Jobs: 2,019,970
Hourly Rate: $11.88 – $18.35 Employment Outlook: Good
Green Job: No Education: Moderate-term on-the-job training

What do Secretaries do?

Secretaries perform routine administrative and clerical functions including scheduling appointments, organizing files, making travel arrangements, answering the telephone, and drafting correspondence. Secretaries can work in many different environments, including hospitals, schools, medical and legal offices, and government agencies.

Secretaries perform routine administrative and clerical functions including scheduling appointments, organizing files, making travel arrangements, answering the telephone, and drafting correspondence. Secretaries can work in many different environments, including hospitals, schools, medical and legal offices, and government agencies.

There are many types of secretaries, each with their own areas of expertise. Here are a few of the most common types: General secretaries are the most common type of secretaries. They work in schools, private companies, and government agencies. Their responsibilities vary greatly depending on the specific job. Scheduling appointments, keeping visit records, managing stockrooms, and helping with presentations or reports are common responsibilities for most secretaries. Legal secretaries need to have a knowledge of legal language and procedures. They prepare legal papers like subpoenas and summonses, and sometimes help with legal research. These positions require special training. You can learn more about legal secretaries here. Medical secretaries have to be familiar with medical terminology and procedures, as well as insurance and billing practices. While they do perform some general administrative tasks like other secretaries, they also have some more advanced responsibilities. They transcribe diction, take medical histories, and help physicians with their reports or journal publications. These positions require specialized training, which is available at technical and vocational schools. Executive secretaries provide support for high level executives within an organization. Their responsibilities are normally more complex than those who work in more entry level positions. They often need to prepare reports, conduct research, and review documents as they come in. In some cases, these secretaries manage a staff of clerical workers.

Work Environment and Schedule

Most secretaries work for schools, doctor’s offices, legal firms, and government agencies, but there are positions available for secretaries in just about every imaginable industry. This can be a stressful occupation at times, particularly when an office is especially busy. Secretaries often have to manage multiple tasks at the same time, and may have little time to take the breaks they need to clear their heads. The majority of secretaries work full time, and enjoy regular working schedules during normal business hours. However, some secretaries (like those who work in hospitals) may be required to work irregular hours on nights, weekends, and holidays.

How to Become a Secretary

Most employers prefer general secretaries to have a high school diploma, but some positions require specialized training beyond that level. For example, legal and medical secretaries need to understand the vocabulary of their industry, and often learn the skills they need by taking courses at vocational schools. Previous clerical or administrative experience can be very helpful when it comes to getting a job as a secretary. Many secretaries start out working as clerks, administrative assistants, and other entry level clerical positions. These jobs provide people with the basic skills they need to have a successful career as a secretary. Significant work experience is required to work as an executive secretary. Because their responsibilities are more complex, it takes years of practice and experience to develop the skills that these secretaries need on the job. All secretaries need to have basic computer skills. If you want to work in this occupation but don’t have any computer skills, you can take some basic courses at most community colleges. Learning how to type quickly and use software like Microsoft Word, Excel, and Outlook can be extremely beneficial.

Employment Outlook

There are currently 2,019,970 secretaries in the United States, with 36,550 new secretary job openings created each year.

Secretary jobs are not expected to see much growth beyond their current levels in the next decade.

Secretary Salaries

Overall Salaries

Secretary salaries can vary depending on your experience, the location, company, industry, and benefits provided. Nationwide, most secretaries make between $24,700 – $38,200 per year, or $11.88 – $18.35 per hour.

Updated: 05/04/2017

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