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What do Secretaries do?

Secretaries make appointments. They put files in order. They also write letters and answer the phone. They may make travel plans. Secretaries use computers, fax machines, and copiers. Secretaries make sure that the information that leaves the office is right. Other people in the office rely on secretaries to keep things going well.

Some secretaries are called executive secretaries or administrative assistants. These secretaries have more duties. Some make reports and train others. Some secretaries work in one field, such as medicine or law. Medical secretaries help doctors keep track of patients. Legal secretaries work with lawyers.

Most secretaries work in offices. These offices can be in companies small or large. Secretaries work in hospitals, schools, or banks. Secretaries often must sit for a long time. Also, they spend a lot of time using computers. Sometimes this causes eye strain or wrist problems.

Some companies let secretaries work at different times of the day. They also might do some of their work at home. Most secretaries work 40 hours a week, but some work part time.

How do you get ready?

Secretaries should be good at keyboarding. They also should have good grammar and be well-spoken. They need to know how to use a word processor. They may also need to know other software programs. Secretaries must operate different office equipment. Employers want their secretaries to get along well with others. They should also be well organized and honest. A high school diploma is needed for most full-time jobs. Once they have a job, secretaries often must take courses to update their skills. Medical and legal secretaries need special training.

How much does this job pay?

The middle half of all secretaries, excluding legal and medical secretaries, earned between $26,980 and $41,350 a year in 2002. The lowest-paid 10 percent earned less than $22,270. The highest-paid 10 percent earned more than $50,420. Legal secretaries earn more and medical secretaries earn less.

Salaries vary a great deal, depending on differences in skill, experience, and level of responsibility.

How many jobs are there?

Secretaries and administrative assistants held more than 4.1 million jobs in 2002. This is one of the largest job categories in the U.S. About 9 out of 10 secretaries worked in firms providing services. These services ranged from education and health to legal and business services.

What about the future?

The number of jobs for secretaries and administrative assistants is expected to grow more slowly than the average for all occupations through 2012. The slow growth is partly because personal computers, electronic mail, scanners, and voice message systems allow secretaries to accomplish more in the same amount of time. In addition to new jobs, many jobs will become available to replace workers who transfer to other occupations or leave this occupation for other reasons. Job opportunities should be best for well-qualified and experienced secretaries.

Are there other jobs like this?

  • Bookkeeping clerks
  • Court reporters
  • Data entry and information processing workers
  • Human resources, training, and labor relations managers and specialists
  • Receptionists and information clerks
  • Medical assistants
  • Medical records and health information technicians
  • Office managers
  • Paralegals
Where can you find more information?

For more comprehensive information on careers see the Careers Database.

Questions or Comments?
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