Professional Secretary Certification & Certificate Programs

Read details about certificate programs designed for prospective professional secretaries. Find out about topics addressed in these programs and professional certifications offered in the field. Job outlook and salary statistics are also provided in this article.

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Essential Information

Also referred to as an administrative assistant program, a secretary certificate program prepares students for a broad range of careers in the secretarial field. Certificate programs cover a variety of computer and organizational skills necessary for entering the field, and they can prepare students for software-specific certifications, like those pertaining to Microsoft Office. They can also prepare students for voluntary certification as professional secretaries. Certificate programs typically last 1-2 years and require little more than a high school diploma for admission.

Program Coursework

Modern secretary certificate programs address a variety of software packages necessary to organize data in a modern office. Some programs even require students to take courses that lead to individual Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) certifications in Excel, Word, Outlook, PowerPoint or Access. Other common coursework includes:

  • Keyboarding
  • Transcription
  • Office procedures
  • Word processing
  • Basic accounting

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

The field for secretaries is expected to grow steadily from 2010-2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistic (BLS). The median salary for a secretary was $32,410 as of 2012 (www.bls.gov), with the highest ten percent of secretaries earning in excess of $48,000. Though the traditional field of executive administrative assisting is also expected to grow about as fast as the national average from 2010-2020, growth is expected to be particularly explosive for secretaries in the health care field, stated the BLS.

Continuing Education

Secretary certificate programs are only the beginning of demonstrating knowledge in office procedures. Various organizations, such as the International Association of Administrative Professionals (www.iaap-hq.org), offer industry certification such as the 3-part Certified Professional Secretary (CPS) and 4-part Certified Administrative Professional (CAP) exams.

Legal Secretary Certifications

Secretaries in the legal and medical fields have separate certifications, and they are classified differently by the BLS. Legal secretaries can earn a certification from the National Association of Legal Secretaries (NALS) by passing a 3-part exam on legal procedures as well as written communications, ethics and judgment. Secretaries can also become Certified Legal Secretary Specialists and build their specialized legal knowledge in areas such as business law, civil litigation and intellectual property. As of 2010, legal secretaries comprised about seven percent of the administrative assistant jobs in the U.S. and are expected to grow about as fast as average through 2020 (www.bls.gov).

Medical Secretary Certification

Medical secretaries don't have a larger, well-recognized certification body, but students looking to enter this field generally require specialized instruction. Some associate's degree programs will emphasize medical terminology or coding, which is intended to augment their regular secretarial training. In 2010, medical secretaries accounted for about eleven percent of all administrative assistant positions, with many new job opportunities expected to appear over the decade 2010-2020, according to the BLS.

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