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Professional Secretary Job Duties, Salary Info and Career Options

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a professional secretary. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about training and job duties to find out if this is the career for you.

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Essential Information

Employed in such workplaces as schools, medical facilities, law offices and corporate offices, professional secretaries ensure that office operations run smoothly and efficiently. On a typical day, these professionals may schedule meetings, organize files and manage databases. Entry-level positions generally require a high school diploma with some on-the-job training, although individuals can complete clerical coursework at a college. All secretaries need to have computer and office skills, while medical and legal secretaries also need some industry-specific knowledge. Certification for secretaries is optional, but it can help them stand out in the field.

Required Education High school diploma with on-the-job training for entry-level positions; optional completion of clerical coursework or program
Required Skills Computer skills and office skills; industry-specific knowledge for medical and legal secretaries
Certification Optional certification through organizations for administrative professionals
Projected Job Growth12% from 2012-2022 for all secretaries and administrative assistants*
Median Salary (September 2014) $29,826 annually for all secretaries**

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.com

Job Duties of Professional Secretaries

Professional secretaries, also known as administrative assistants or executive assistants, assist executives, administrators and other office workers. They have both information management and clerical duties. Specific job tasks include maintaining databases, composing correspondence and organizing meetings and conference calls.

Professional secretaries may work in a specific industry. For example, medical secretaries perform medical transcription, manage patient files, compose correspondence and assist in writing medical reports. Legal secretaries prepare subpoenas, motions, appeals and other legal documents. Legal secretaries are often supervised by lawyers and paralegals.

Salary Information

Most positions for professional secretaries are hourly rather than salaried. However, full-time professional secretaries usually receive benefits and leave. According to PayScale.com, most secretaries made between $18,862 and $45,810 a year in September 2014. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most legal secretaries earned between $26,450 and $69,360 in May 2013, while most medical secretaries earned between $22,150 and $46,420 annually. According to PayScale.com, most administrative assistants with the Certified Professional Secretary (CPS) credential earned between $28,647 and $56,165 annually in October 2014. Certification is offered through the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP), the International Virtual Assistants Association (IVAA) and other organizations.

Career Options

Professional secretaries often find employment in corporate offices, schools, hospitals, government agencies, legal offices and home offices. Professional secretaries who offer freelance secretarial services from a home office are called virtual assistants.

Professional secretaries with advanced training or certification can become office managers, senior executive assistants or senior administrative assistants. With additional training, medical secretaries can become medical practice managers. Legal secretaries often go on to become paralegals.

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