A secretary types away at her desk

Pros and Cons of Being a Secretary

Being a secretary encompasses a wide range of responsibilities, from dealing with clients to handling day-to-day aspects of the business. While some people find this to be a very rewarding position, others don’t fit into the job at all. Here’s a look at the pros and cons of being a secretary.

Pro: You can make a very decent wage with very limited education.

While some companies have begun asking for degrees or certifications from their secretarial candidates, most positions still look largely for people with experience in the field and at least a high school diploma. It’s a great role for smart, able people who just didn’t find college to be the right choice for them. For a job with such limited educational requirements, the pay isn’t bad either—although it isn’t always good. Depending on the location and the business you’re working for, most secretaries make about $20,000-$35,000 a year.

Con: There isn’t usually much room for promotional growth.

Most businesses that employ secretaries are of the sort that have positions that require extensive schooling (think doctors, hospitals, veterinarians, lawyers, businessmen, etc). While bigger companies may have room for upper tier secretaries or administrative assistants, most don’t have that luxury—even office managers are often required to have education in financial fields. This means you might get raises, but there probably aren’t going to be better positions available.

Pro: You get to interact with a wide variety of people.

While secretaries are generally in charge of things like filing, record keeping, and correspondence, they often handle the receptionist aspect of businesses as well—greeting clients, making appointments, answering phone calls. You also have to be prepared to handle interoffice communications, which is when those interpersonal talents will come to good use. So, if you’re an introvert, being a secretary is a great way to make use of those people skills.

Con: Some of those people are very, very rude.

Unfortunately, not everyone you talk to is going to be the most tactful and respectful person, and that goes for bosses and clients. If things go wrong, even if it's an accident or crazy computer error, chances are that the blame is going to fall on the secretary. You’re often both the first and last line of defense between your company and the public, and that means you have to handle outraged clients and psychotic supervisors with grace and tact, no matter how angry it makes you.

Pro: You get to perform a variety of tasks, and every day is often different.

A good secretary has a wide range of abilities. While almost every business, particularly small businesses, have slow days, there will almost always be busy ones. Slow days are often a godsend in these companies, providing time for you to play catch up on tasks that get interrupted by constant clients. In any case, you stay busy, which makes the day go by quickly. Although some aspects of the profession can become monotonous, switching from task to task keeps both brain and body moving so you don’t get bored waiting for something to happen.

Con: You have to be prepared to do all sorts of different tasks and have strong organization and multitasking skills.

While it may keep you from getting bored, some people find the variability of the position overwhelming. A good secretary has to be prepared to switch from paperwork, to phone calls, to filing, to making appointments. At the same time, it’s important to know what needs to be done and when, and to keep track of that in your head. Not everyone is cut out for it; educational requirements aside, being a secretary is by no means easy. It’s a lot of work for little pay, and often gets very little recognition—no matter how good you are at your job.