What you need to know
Secretaries and administrative assistants perform routine clerical and administrative duties. They organize files, prepare documents, schedule appointments, and support other staff.
Secretaries and administrative assistants work in nearly every industry. Most secretaries and administrative assistants work in an office setting. Some administrative assistants may work out of their own homes as virtual assistants
Some of the things a secretary or administrative assistant might do:
- Answer telephones and take messages or transfer calls
- Schedule appointments and update event calendars
- Arrange staff meetings
- Handle incoming and outgoing mail and faxes
- Prepare memos, invoices, or other reports
- Edit documents
- Maintain databases and filing systems, whether electronic or paper
- Perform basic bookkeeping
- Decision-Making skills: Secretaries and administrative assistants often prioritize tasks and make decisions on their employers’ behalf, so good judgment is essential.
- Interpersonal skills: Secretaries and administrative assistants interact with clients, customers, or staff. They should communicate effectively and be courteous when interacting with others to create a positive work environment and client experience.
- Organizational skills: Secretaries and administrative assistants keep files, folders, and schedules in proper order so an office can run efficiently.
- Writing skills: Secretaries and administrative assistants write memos and emails when communicating with managers, employees, and customers. Therefore, they must have good grammar, ensure accuracy, and maintain a professional tone.
The average pay for secretaries and administrative assistants in the United States ranges from $26,880 to more than $67,510 as of May 2020.
The specific pay depends on factors such as level of experience, education and training, geographic location, and specific industry.
Overall employment of secretaries and administrative assistants is projected to decline 9 percent from 2019 to 2029.
In some organizations, technology is expected to enable other staff to prepare their own documents without the assistance of secretaries.
However, employment of medical secretaries and administrative assistants is projected to grow 10 percent from 2019 to 2029.
High school graduates can take courses in word processing and office procedures at technical schools or community colleges. Some temporary placement agencies also provide training in word processing, spreadsheet, and database software.
Some medical and legal secretaries learn industry-specific terminology and practices by attending courses offered at community colleges or technical schools. For executive secretary positions, employers increasingly prefer to hire those who have taken some college courses or have a bachelor’s degree.
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