How to Become a Secretary | Career Education to Become a Secretary

Secretaries are known by many names, including administrative, executive and virtual assistants, and these professionals can work in business, medical and legal environments. Because job titles differ, the training required to work in each secretarial position usually varies as well. This article outlines the steps one might take to become a secretary.

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Steps to Becoming a Secretary

Aspiring secretaries can start their career education by earning a high school diploma or GED. Individuals must then decide which secretarial field they wish to enter. Applicants are increasingly required to pursue postsecondary education for employment in this field. Below are the steps needed to become a secretary.

Step 1: Take Office Courses in High School

Oftentimes, high school graduates who have taken office courses qualify for entry-level jobs. These courses are usually taken through vocational programs or general high school classes that teach basic office skills. However, if an individual couldn't take office courses while in high school, these skills can be obtained from community colleges or vocational schools.

Step 2: Determine What Secretarial Position Interests You

Secretarial job titles include administrative assistant, executive assistant, virtual assistant, executive secretary, legal secretary and medical secretary. Individuals should decide what position they want to assume before pursuing training or applying for a job. Since many of these jobs may require training beyond what is learned in high school, students may have to attend college before acquiring a position.

Step 3: Pursue a Postsecondary Degree or Certificate

Many community colleges offer 1-year and 2-year programs in office administration. Students take general courses such as office management, report writing, bookkeeping, word processing, desktop publishing and business communication. Because job titles and duties can vary, the specific type of training needed usually varies as well. Students, therefore, should make sure they take the appropriate courses or enroll in the appropriate degree or certificate program.

For example, executive secretaries and assistants study such topics as business law, conferencing and travel management. Medical secretaries must learn about basic medical terminology by taking courses on transcription, deductibles and health insurance. Legal secretaries learn fundamental legal terms in a training program; once employed, they must know how the terms apply to the specific branches of law in which they work. Virtual assistants, in addition to learning basic office skills, also usually study topics in website design and computer technology.

Step 4: Find a Secretary Position

Many types of offices hire secretaries, including business offices, medical facilities and law firms. Secretaries can also open their own home-based business working as virtual assistants. Temp agencies are another great resource when it comes to finding secretarial work. Additionally, these agencies may sometimes provide formal computer and office training.

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