A secretary answering the phone

Secretary Overview

Secretaries have a wide range of job duties, and they can be found in a variety of office settings. Each type of employment setting can offer a slightly different set of duties, but the basic requirements remain the same. Secretaries have several options when it comes to searching for a job. Medical offices, lawyers, and schools are all known for employing secretaries. 

Typical Secretary Job Duties

Secretaries serve as office staff members who typically answer the phone, take messages, and keep track of appointments. Secretaries may also make travel arrangements for office employees. A small office may have one secretary who takes care of the entire office, but larger offices may have one secretary for each executive. Secretaries will generally be in charge of greeting office visitors and keeping office files in order.

Successful secretaries typically excel at multitasking. With a stream of visitors, a busy fax machine, and a ringing phone, an office can become busy quickly. A skilled secretary will be able to prioritize tasks as needed. Effective communication skills are highly desirable, as the position often requires communicating with several business contacts. 

Specialized Secretarial Positions 

Some secretarial positions are a bit more complex and require additional training or skills. For example, a legal secretary will often be trained on how to keep records of witness lists and legal documents. Medical secretaries will need to be trained on the importance of patient privacy and confidentiality so that protocol can be followed when releasing medical records. The government also hires secretaries to work in state agencies. Secretaries in these specialized fields may be required to scan documents and keep electronic files. You also have administrative assistants, which are similar to secretaries but have more responsibilities and are trusted with professional decision-making.

Secretary Salary Opportunities 

The salary of a secretary will often depend on the employment setting that is chosen and the amount of experience a secretary has. A secretary who has successfully worked in a busy office may have an advantage when it comes time to negotiate a salary. This is particularly true in offices that recognize the value of having a skilled secretary. 

The average annual salary for a secretary is approximately $34,000. Secretaries who have advanced education or experience may be able to receive a higher salary. Legal and medical secretaries, for example, will often earn higher salaries. The job outlook for secretaries is favorable, and job growth is expected to continue. Secretaries are a necessity to keep an office operating smoothly.

Last Updated: April 15, 2015