Technology has advanced to a point where the role of an office worker has evolved. The secretary is considered a crucial part of the company. The secretary is usually the centralized source of information. Companies have delegated some phone and word processing duties to departmental manager; thus, the secretary is able to fulfill other duties.
Secretary Job Responsibilities
No longer is the secretary limited to typing and answering phones. The main job of the secretary remains that of coordinating all administrative aspects of the company. The secretary is the centralized person that receives and delivers information. The computer, phone, fax, scanner, and cell phone are some of the tools that a secretary must use to perform their job. Video conferencing is another tool that is used by executives, managers, and other staff. The secretary is responsible for setting up these types of meetings.
Executive secretaries support executive management. These professionals provide extensive support for these managers. Scheduling meetings, conferences, seminars, and events is one of many duties of the secretary. Modern technology has made it possible for the secretary to prepare documents, spreadsheets, power point presentations, and newsletters with computer software. Organization is another important function of the secretary. Paper files must be organized in an easy to find manner. Electronic files also have to be organized for easy access. The secretary is responsible for the organization of electronic and paper files. Travel arrangements is another duty of the secretary. They must make hotel, airline, and car reservations.
In addition, communication skills are very important. The secretary might have to negotiate with vendors, clients, and co-workers. Oftentimes, they must coordinate with other departments to complete projects. Research is another duty that secretaries must engage in on the job. Internet research is often a critical part of their job. Higher level secretaries are called executive secretaries. The bulk of their job is information management. Many times they will supervise a junior level secretary to perform clerical duties. They sometimes must review incoming information and decide how the information should be handled.
Secretaries can also be specialized. Medical and legal secretaries must have specialized knowledge in their field. Legal secretaries provide extensive support to lawyers and paralegals. They must prepare many court documents. Memos, reports, and correspondence are just a few of the documents that must be prepared. Medical secretaries focus on patient appointments and scheduling. Oftentimes, they are involved in office billing and payment. Some may even deal with insurance companies for payment of medical bills.
Also, schools have secretaries that perform a number of tasks. Elementary, middle school, and high school have a secretary in the office that handles the bulk of the office communication. They generally provide support to the principals and other staff. The secretary handles recording much of the information that teachers bring to the central school office. Attendance is one of the major things that the secretary must keep track of during the day. The secretary must also contact parents for problems related to their child. Illness or misbehavior may require that a parent be contacted during the school day. Secretaries often store this information in a filing system that is organized for easier access.
Secretary Training and Education Requirements
A minimum of a high school diploma or equivalent is required. Most employers also prefer some vocational or technical training from a junior college or university. Many institutions offer a certificate level program. This program can generally be completed within one year. An associate level degree is also available in secretarial studies. During the program, the student will learn typing, computer, and communications skills. More employers prefer job candidates that also have a college degree. Some employers will require a bachelor or associate’s degree. The new technology is steadily growing and an employer wants a secretary that can stay current on technology.
Secretary Salary and Wages
The average salary for a secretary is $30,000. This is for a junior level position. Some entry level secretaries average hourly wages of $9.00 to $20.00 per hour. Executive level secretaries make an average of $35,000 to $60,000. The highest paid secretaries make in excess of $60,000. The lowest paid secretaries make approximately $25,000 or less per year. This represents the lowest 10% of the profession.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
The International Association of Administrative Professionals administers an exam that leads to certification. The National Association of Legal Secretaries is another organization that also provides certification tests. Employers actually prefer to hire a job candidate with a secretary or administrative assistant certification. It truly makes the person stand out from the rest. In the competitive economy of today, this is especially important. Once a person passes a certification exam, they have proof of their competence in a specific area.
Secretary Professional Associations
There are many organizations that are committed to promoting the profession of administrative assistants and secretaries. The International Association of Administrative Assistants is one of the largest groups in the U.S. This group promotes the professionalism of the craft. This group is a source of continuing education, and an opportunity for others to network. Developing relationships in a group like this is critical to one’s career.