In the US, a study conducted in 2002 revealed that secretaries and administrative assistants occupy about 4.1 million jobs, standing as one of the biggest workforce. The secretary of today is expected to play some managerial duties as well. This could include supervising other office secretaries or administrative or even training staff as well.
No wonder, the terminology of a secretary has been replaced by an office professional. It is not a mere change in the nomenclature. It goes to aptly define the responsibility and dignity that a modern secretarial career involves.
Qualifications for secretarial career
A high school graduation with adequate office skills may be sufficient for entry level position of a junior secretary. A candidate who wishes to choose a secretarial career may receive training through a high school vocational promoting fundamental office skills and typing. Business schools, vocational technical institutes and community colleges that offer one and two year programs in office administration are other options. Most of the times, several vital skills are taught on the job or through computer support.
Candidates who wish to join medical or legal areas as secretaries should attend focused training programs available for this purpose. Such legal and medical secretaries must have substantial knowledge of technical terminology and procedures in order to carry out highly specialized work. Technical secretaries working for engineers and scientists must be capable of keeping up the technical library, search and edit resources used for scientific papers.
Bachelor's degree and professional certifications for secretaryship are becoming highly critical for secretarial careers these days. The present day employer looks for a secretary with the following job qualifications:
- Knowledge of computer programs including spreadsheets, word processing and database management.
- High speed typing skills
- Proficiency in spelling, punctuation and other English language skills
- Good customer services and interpersonal skills
- Managerial or organizing abilities
- Capability to work independently.
Secretaries who are given managerial responsibilities train and inform new staff, perform internet research and use latest technology in offices. Conducting and organizing administrative duties and events and receiving and handling information for distribution to staff and clients are also secretarial responsibilities. As new technologies develop, the secretaries have to keep abreast with the latest methodologies and techniques. They have to adapt themselves to the changing office needs. Sometimes the position may require them to enroll in courses or online programs so that they may keep up with the ever-evolving office technologies.
- Serving as office information manager
- Arranging and scheduling meetings and appointments
- Organizing and preserving paper and computer files
- Handling travel arrangements
- Distributing and disseminating information through the use of telephones, snail mail and email.
- Draft correspondences
- Produce presentations, reports and documents with the aid of desktop publishing software and computer graphics.
Secretarial career growth
Different levels of experience in the secretarial career carry different responsibilities. The specific duties assigned to a junior secretary vary by level of experience in comparison to a senior administrative secretary. A junior secretary as administrative assistant maintains a clerical tasks. This includes:
- Opening, sorting and categorizing all incoming mails and information to the various departments.
- Delivery of incoming information to the appropriate persons in a timely fashion.
- Processing all outgoing communication in the form of emails, letters, voice messages and other forms of communications.
- Scheduling appointments, meetings and personal appearances by the department manager.
- Duplicating, filing, recording and logging of data shared between departments.
- Answering telephones, providing information and processing messages for the department manager.
A higher ranked executive secretary has more complex responsibilities such as:
- Performing research.
- Planning statistical reports.
- Teaching employees.
- Supervising and directing other clerical and support staff.
- Attending meetings, commissions on behalf of the department manager
- Ensuring all office policies and procedures are being implemented.
Personal qualities for a competent secretary
- Immaculate in appearance
- Good communication skills
- Organizing capacities
- Telephone etiquette
- Ability to listen to instructions and carry them out.
As advance in office technology persists, the role of secretaries will become progressively redefined as organizational restructuring increases. Yet, the personalized and interactive abilities of a secretary cannot be replaced by automated gadgets. Secretaries as office professionals will continue to play an increasingly major role in support systems, departments and units behind successful performances of majority or organizations.