Secretary: Become a Professional Secretary in 5 Steps
Do you have good typing skills? Would you enjoy working in a professional office environment? If so, you might consider becoming a secretary. You'll be responsible for providing administrative support to executives and company managers as well as handling front office operations. Schools offering Administrative Assistant degrees can also be found in these popular choices.
What Is a Secretary?
The primary duty of secretaries is ensuring that offices run efficiently. In this position, you'll serve as a communication conduit between office staff and the company's clients. Secretaries often specialize in the legal and medical industries, which may require some formal training. Others work in corporate environments, educational facilities and government associations. Some secretaries learn their skills on the job under the instruction of experienced workers.
Step 1: Research a Secretary's Career Duties
Secretaries perform administrative, clerical and even managerial tasks. They field telephone calls, greet and direct visitors and type office correspondence, memos, agendas and board meeting minutes. In this career, depending on your exact title, you could plan meetings and schedule appointments, organize paper and electronic files and manage special projects. You may also contact clients or other businesses by telephone, mail, the Internet and e-mail. In your daily work, you might use word processing and accounting software, fax machines, photocopiers, scanners, videoconferencing and multi-line telephone systems.
Step 2: Earn an Associate's Degree
You may not need a degree to become a professional secretary. However, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more employers have begun hiring applicants with college degrees for secretary positions (www.bls.gov). If you'd like to gain an advantage over other job candidates, you might choose to earn an associate's degree in office administration at a vocational or community college. These programs offer courses like office procedures, spreadsheets, advanced word processing, office software applications, keyboarding and records management.
Step 3: Choose an Area of Specialty
If you'd like to become a specific type of secretary, you might take additional courses or pursue more specialized degree options. The most common areas of specialization are legal or medical secretary. As an aspiring legal secretary, you might earn an associate's degree in paralegal studies. Or, if you'd prefer to work in the medical field, you can enroll in an associate's degree program in medical assisting.
Step 4: Earn Licensing or Certification
No specific certification is required to become a secretary. However, some organizations offer certifications that can make you more marketable to employers. These include the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP), which awards the Certified Professional Secretary certification, and NALS (formerly the National Association of Legal Secretaries), which offers the Accredited Legal Secretary designation.
Step 5: Obtain Employment
Temporary placement agencies often seek workers to fill secretarial jobs. By signing on and testing with one or more agencies, placement personnel can match your skills and abilities to their clients who are seeking secretarial professionals. Many of these agencies also provide computer training. If you choose to seek work without the assistance of a placement specialist, you might search online to find secretarial positions in public and private offices.
To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below: