Secretaries and administrative assistants essential career information:
- 2012 median pay: $31,870
- 2010 number of jobs: 4,010,200
- Employment growth forecast, 2010-2020: 12 percent
- Entry-level education requirements: High school diploma or equivalent
Secretaries and administrative assistants; what they do:
Secretaries and administrative assistants don’t get the big bucks, but many bosses acknowledge these employees keep things running smoothly. A good secretary or administrative assistant performs routine clerical and organizational tasks, knows how to use the latest office technology, and respects clients, customers and employers’ confidentiality.
A secretary career includes organizing files, drafting messages, helping other staff and scheduling appointments. Secretaries greet visitors warmly and politely, often making that all-important first impression.
Administrative assistants’ skills and duties vary depending on the type of organization they work for and how large a staff shares the work. Some secretaries work for just one person, while some administrative assistants serve entire departments.
Secretary and administrative assistant duties:
- Answering phone calls
- Using computers for database management and word processing
- Responding to queries
- Taking messages
- Greeting visitors and handling inquiries
- Directing visitors to the appropriate person
- Completing clerical functions
- Handling administrative work
- Writing correspondence
- Completing forms
- Organizing and maintaining files
- Scheduling appointments
- Making copies
Secretaries and administrative assistants job titles:
- Medical secretary
- Legal secretary
- Virtual secretary
- School secretary
- Executive secretary
- Corporate secretary
- Medical administrative assistant
- Executive administrative assistant
- Online administrative assistant
- Administrative Assistant
- Department Secretary
- Office Assistant
Secretaries and Administrative Assistants Education, Certification and License Requirements
Those who choose a secretary career or an administrative assistant career can often find work right out of high school. They can also enroll in associate’s degree programs to make themselves more attractive to prospective employers.
Certification is not required but certification can signal competency when employers review applications for secretaries and administrative assistant jobs. After completing specialized training programs, a secretary can acquire certification in a specific field, such as legal secretarial or medical secretarial.
Some schools offer an Associate in Office Information Technology, an Associate in Business Administration or an Associate in Business Administration, Office Management degree program.
Secretary and administrative assistant programs cover subjects such as:
- Office procedures and technology
- Principles of business
- Integrated office systems
- Document preparation
- Document processing
- Desktop publishing
- Principles of accounting
Career Advancement Opportunities
Experience leads to career advancement for many who choose a secretary career or an administrative assistant career. Some may become executive secretaries, clerical supervisors or office managers. Extra training can also lead to specialty work, such as a position as a paralegal.
Secretaries and Administrative Assistants Job Outlook
Forecast: 12 percent overall employment growth for secretaries and administrative assistants from 2010 to 2020. Workers with training as medical secretaries could see a jump of 41 percent because of the speed at which health care and social assistance industries expand. The BLS forecasts a 4 percent employment growth for legal secretaries.
Secretaries and Administrative Assistants Salary
- 2012 median annual wage: $31,870
- 2012, workers at the 75th percentile annual wage: $39,440
- 2012, workers at the 25th percentile annual wage: $25,350
Secretaries and Administrative Assistants Major Employers
- Elementary and secondary schools
- Colleges, universities and professional schools
- Government agencies
- Employment services
- General medical and surgical hospitals