Executive Secretary Training Programs and Courses

Executive secretaries, also known as executive administrative assistants, support senior personnel in businesses and organizations by performing clerical and organizational tasks. Duties include greeting clients, scheduling appointments, managing correspondence and preparing reports. On-the-job experience and administrative training gained through certificate and degree programs allow candidates to develop the requisite office technology and computer application skills.

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Training Requirements and Recommendations

At a minimum, a high school diploma or GED certificate is required of those seeking executive secretary positions. Many employers, however, prefer candidates with some college-level education in a related field. Relevant certificate and associate's degree programs in business administrative technology are available and provide field-specific skills training.

Previous administrative assistant experience is also necessary but may be balanced against any higher education attained. Employers require knowledge of standard office equipment and Microsoft Office applications, as well as candidates with exceptional written and verbal communication skills. Additionally, some may demand a minimum typing speed, usually of at least 60 words per minute.

Formal Education

Aspiring executive secretaries seeking formal training in the field may enroll in certificate or associate's degree programs designed for those interested in pursuing administrative support careers. Employers requiring that applicants possess a bachelor's degree generally do not stipulate a required field of study.

Administrative Assistant Certificate

Administrative assistant certificate programs prepare students for entry-level secretarial positions which may put candidates on the path to future executive secretary jobs. Certificate programs in the field typically take one year to complete, although some colleges may offer relevant short-term certificate programs through continuing education divisions.

Programs provide training in word processing and desktop publishing, as well as database and spreadsheet management. Courses for the administrative assistant certificate also cover subjects including:

  • Keyboarding
  • Interpersonal relations
  • Customer service
  • Office procedures
  • Accounting basics

Associate of Applied Science in Business Administrative Technology

Associate's degree programs in business administrative technology require about two years of study. Some community colleges offer specializations tailored to prospective executive administrative assistants. Students develop organizational, communication and research skills. In addition to completing training in Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Excel and Outlook, students may take general education courses in psychology or sociology. An office-based internship may be incorporated into the curriculum. Other common courses in the program address:

  • Composition
  • Business mathematics
  • Records management
  • Business communications
  • Office administration and skills
  • Machine transcription

Job Experience

Many companies expect that executive secretary applicants possess at least 3-5 years of administrative experience, and some employers stipulate that part of this requirement be comprised of administrative experience under an executive. Graduates of associate's degree programs may already have some work experience under their belt through built-in college internships, possibly comprised of both on-campus and off-site practical training in an office setting.

Numerous entry-level administrative assistant positions are available to those who hold a GED or high school diploma and provide aspiring executive secretaries background experience, allowing them to develop the multi-tasking, communication and office technology application skills necessary to climb the professional ladder.

Licenses and Certifications

Neither a license nor certification is required to practice as an executive secretary. However, employers often look favorably upon any voluntary certifications earned. The International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP) administers two broadly applicable credentials.

Certified Professional Secretary (CPS)

Applicants for this certification must pass a 3-part examination focusing on office technology and systems, administration and management. Candidates without a degree must have at least four years of administrative experience, while applicants who hold an associate's or a bachelor's degree need three or two years of work experience, respectively.

Certified Administrative Professional (CAP)

Certified Administrative Professional candidates must pass a 4-part exam covering the three subject areas included in the CSP test, as well as a section on advanced organizational management. Prerequisites for the CAP credential are the same as for the CSP designation.

Workshops and Seminars

Professional organizations in the field offer multi-day workshops and seminars for executive and administrative personnel covering topics such as management and leadership skills. Single-day seminars at satellite locations are also offered and address topics including business writing and minute taking. Additionally, online seminars, known as webinars, are available and focus on such issues as diversity and professional communication.

Additional Professional Development

Also available through professional administrative organizations are opportunities for continuing education, offered online or through self-study modules. Coursework may address time management, space planning, office professionalism, presentation skills and information management.

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