Certified Public Secretary Education Requirements and Career Info

Certified public secretaries require little formal education. Learn about the educational requirements, job duties and voluntary certification details to see if this is the right career for you.

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Essential Information

Certified public secretaries fulfill the traditional roles of secretaries and also take on more complex and varied responsibilities. These secretaries seek certification from the International Association of Administrative Professionals. The certified professional secretary (CPS) certification is the most common credential.

Required Education A high school diploma and some college education
Other Requirements Optional professional certification
Projected Job Growth (2012-2022)* 12% for secretaries and administrative assistants
Median Annual Salary (2013)* $32,840 for secretaries and administrative assistants

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Duties for a Certified Public Secretary

Certified public (or professional) secretaries perform a number of duties during the course of their workday, including office administration and management, accounting and communication. As secretaries develop increasingly sophisticated skills in these areas, they advance to positions of greater responsibility that go well beyond the role that 'secretary' has traditionally defined. While entry-level secretaries may still be charged with making coffee and sorting the daily mail, certified public secretaries administer databases, create financial presentations and perform other tasks that make them integral and even leading members of the executive team.

Educational Requirements

Professional secretaries come from varied educational backgrounds. A high school diploma or GED is a necessity, and some college education is preferred by employers. Even more important is the type of work experience that a person has. Professional secretaries should be experienced both in the industry in which they are trying to work and in secretarial duties, such as word processing, time management, organization and scheduling.

What most distinguishes a professional secretary, however, is the certification that he or she chooses to earn. The most common certification in the industry is the Certified Professional Secretary (CPS) designation, which is offered by the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP). To be eligible to take the rigorous CPS exam, a candidate is required to meet a combination of educational and professional experience requirements.

Certification Requirements

Candidates with an associate's degree must demonstrate three years of administrative experience, while those with a bachelor's degree need two. Preparation classes for the comprehensive exam are offered through continuing education programs, community colleges and professional education organizations. College credit may be awarded for participating in preparatory courses and passing the exam.

Re-certification is required every five years and is earned by accumulating a determined number of points in the areas of professional education, electives and leadership. These points may come through taking online courses, participating in professional workshops, attending speaker engagements and chairing committees.

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