Secretary: Job Duties, Career Outlook, and Education Requirements

Get information regarding typical secretarial job duties and needed skills. See educational requirements, and learn what the future career outlook is in this field. Schools offering Administrative Assistant degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Are the Job Duties of a Secretary?

Secretaries perform many clerical and administrative duties that are necessary to run an organization efficiently. Your secretarial duties will vary according to your specific job title. For example, as an executive secretary, you'd perform few clerical duties and instead, focus on supporting high-level executives, supervising office staff, conducting research and arranging meetings. If you become a medical secretary, you'll create medical histories for patients and transcribe medical reports. As a legal secretary, you'd prepare legal documentation such as subpoenas and motions.

In general, secretaries organize paperwork and electronic files, manage projects, arrange meetings, conduct research and communicate through phone, mail and e-mail. You may be responsible for creating spreadsheets, developing presentations or reports, composing correspondence and managing databases. Other duties can include purchasing supplies, managing stockrooms, greeting visitors and handling travel arrangements.

What Is the Career Outlook?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), secretarial employment was projected to grow 11% between 2008 and 2018, which was similar to growth in other occupations (www.bls.gov). Some of this growth can be attributed to workers leaving the field or transferring to professional positions. New technologies and automation that allow secretaries to complete a greater number of tasks may alter the way work is delegated in many office environments. Smaller companies may outsource secretarial and administrative tasks to virtual assistants; however, in-house secretaries are still expected to be viewed as essential team members because they possess interpersonal skills and may personally deal with clients and staff. To improve your job prospects, you should become proficient in software applications, gain practical experience and hone your communication skills.

What Education Might I Require?

High school diplomas are considered the minimum requirement for secretaries, but you may want to consider enrolling in a formal training program. Most organizations prefer to hire employees who have completed 1- or 2-year office administration programs at vocational schools or community colleges. These programs typically result in certificates or associate's degrees. You might receive instruction in areas such as bookkeeping, Windows applications, Word, Excel, administrative office procedures and written communications. However, for some secretarial specialties, such as medical or legal, you may need to complete a more specialized training program.

If you do not complete a formal training program, your employer may provide on-the-job training. Some temporary employment agencies may also offer training. After training, you can apply for certification through the International Association of Administrative Professionals, or, if you are a legal secretary, the National Association of Legal Secretaries (NALS), Inc. Certifying organizations may offer different levels of certification, which can be earned by passing examinations and meeting other requirements. As a secretary, you may need to participate in continuing education to keep up with changes in office automation, new technologies and software programs.

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:

  • 1. Degree Options:

Popular Schools

  • DeVry University

    DeVry University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at DeVry University:

    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees
    • Associate Programs
    • Certificates

    Online and Campus-Based Programs Available:

    View All Locations
    • Anywhere: Online Campus
    • Arizona: Glendale, Mesa, Phoenix
    • California: Alhambra, Anaheim, Bakersfield, Colton, Daly City, Elk Grove, Fremont, Fresno, Long Beach, Oakland, Oxnard, Palmdale, Pomona, San Diego, San Jose, Sherman Oaks
    • Colorado: Colorado Springs, Greenwood Village, Westminster
    • Florida: Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Miami, Miramar, Orlando, Tampa
    • Georgia: Alpharetta, Atlanta, Decatur, Duluth, Stockbridge
    • Illinois: Addison, Chicago, Downers Grove, Elgin, Gurnee, Naperville, Tinley Park
    • Indiana: Indianapolis, Merrillville
    • Maryland: Bethesda
    • Michigan: Southfield
    • Minnesota: Edina
    • Missouri: Kansas City, Saint Louis
    • North Carolina: Charlotte, Morrisville
    • New Jersey: Cherry Hill, North Brunswick, Paramus
    • Nevada: Henderson
    • New York: New York, Rego Park
    • Ohio: Cincinnati, Columbus, Dayton, Seven Hills
    • Oklahoma: Oklahoma City
    • Oregon: Portland
    • Pennsylvania: Fort Washington, King of Prussia, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh
    • Tennessee: Memphis, Nashville
    • Texas: Austin, Fort Worth, Houston, Irving, Richardson, San Antonio, Sugar Land
    • Utah: Sandy
    • Virginia: Arlington, Chesapeake, Manassas
    • Washington: Bellevue, Federal Way, Lynnwood
    • Wisconsin: Milwaukee
  • ITT Technical Institute

    ITT Technical Institute responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at ITT Technical Institute:

    • Bachelor Degrees
    • Associate Programs

    Online and Campus-Based Programs Available:

    View All Locations
    • Anywhere: Online Campus
    • Alabama: Bessemer, Madison, Mobile
    • Arkansas: Little Rock
    • Arizona: Phoenix, Tempe, Tucson
    • California: Clovis, Concord, Corona, Culver City, Lathrop, Oakland, Orange, Oxnard, Rancho Cordova, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Dimas, Sylmar, Torrance
    • Colorado: Aurora
    • Florida: Miami, Tallahassee
    • Georgia: Atlanta, Duluth, Kennesaw
    • Iowa: Clive
    • Illinois: Oak Brook, Orland Park
    • Indiana: Fort Wayne, Indianapolis, Newburgh, South Bend
    • Kansas: Wichita
    • Kentucky: Lexington, Louisville
    • Louisiana: Baton Rouge, Saint Rose
    • Maryland: Hanover
    • Michigan: Canton, Dearborn, Grand Rapids, Southfield, Swartz Creek, Troy
    • Minnesota: Brooklyn Center, Eden Prairie
    • Missouri: Arnold, Earth City, Kansas City, Springfield
    • Mississippi: Madison
    • North Carolina: Charlotte, Durham
    • Nebraska: Omaha
    • Nevada: Henderson, North Las Vegas
    • Ohio: Akron, Columbus, Dayton, Hilliard, Maumee, Norwood, Strongsville, Warrensville Heights, Youngstown
    • Oklahoma: Oklahoma City
    • Oregon: Portland, Salem
    • Tennessee: Chattanooga, Cordova, Johnson City, Knoxville, Nashville
    • Texas: Arlington, Austin, Desoto, Houston, Richardson, San Antonio, Waco, Webster
    • Utah: Murray
    • Virginia: Chantilly, Norfolk, Richmond, Salem, Springfield
    • Washington: Everett, Seattle, Spokane Valley
    • Wisconsin: Green Bay, Greenfield, Madison
    • West Virginia: Huntington
  • Herzing University

    Herzing University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Herzing University:

    Online Programs Available

  • Grand Canyon University

    Grand Canyon University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Grand Canyon University:

    Online Programs Available

  • Penn Foster Career School

    Penn Foster Career School responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Penn Foster Career School:

    Online Programs Available

  • Capella University

    Capella University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Capella University:

    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • Post University

    Post University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Post University:

    Online Programs Available

  • Full Sail University

    Full Sail University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Full Sail University:

    Online and Campus-Based Programs Available:

    View All Locations
    • Anywhere: Online Campus
    • Florida: Winter Park
  • Medaille College

    Medaille College responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Medaille College:

    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • Northcentral University

    Northcentral University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Northcentral University:

    Online Programs Available

 More Schools