Secretary School and College Program Overviews

Find out what can be learned in an associate's degree program for future secretaries. See coursework, employment information and common admissions requirements.

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Essential Information

A 2-year associate's program in administrative support, administrative assistance or administrative science teaches students how to perform the basic administrative tasks necessary to land entry-level secretarial employment. Although not all companies require that administrative assistants and secretaries hold associate's degrees, it is becoming more and more frequent to hire educated professionals for office support positions.

Students are required to learn the basic secretarial tasks, including handling phone lines, maintaining correspondence and business communications, working with basic office technology and compiling spreadsheets. Many administrative assistant degree programs also offer courses in basic computer skills and typing. Some administrative assistant programs allow students to take electives that will be particularly useful in specialized settings, such as medical or legal offices.

Education Prerequisites

The most common prerequisite for an associate's degree program is a high school diploma or GED certificate. Some secretary programs, offered through continuing education departments, don't require high school diplomas; however, such programs typically lead to certificates, not associate's degrees. Most programs have a minimum age of 16 and require a one-year or two-year commitment from incoming students.

Program Coursework

Courses in administrative support programs focus mostly on the practical skills required of secretaries. These courses include the following:

  • Typing
  • Microsoft Office Suite
  • Recordkeeping
  • Business computing
  • Communication
  • Office technologies
  • Basic accounting
  • Document processing
  • Integrated office systems

Employment and Career Outlook

The job growth rate for secretaries was expected to increase 12% between 2010 and 2020, which is an average growth rate, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Turnover in the field is high, as many individuals begin as assistants and work their way up. As office technologies continue to evolve, individuals with higher education will be more likely to gain employment. In 2012, office support professionals earned a median annual salary of $32,410, according to the BLS (www.bls.gov).

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