If you have working knowledge of computer software packages, such as Microsoft Word and MS Excel programs, with the ability to use them accurately and with a good typing speed, you may have what it takes to become a secretary.
It takes proficiency on the job, with an exceptional ability to work in an organised fashion. You’ll be providing administrative support to businesses, sometimes in a range of departments as well. This can bring with it high pressures, but you’ll also find that you can benefit from no two days ever being the same.
Quite often, secretaries find that their job can become tediously repetitive, which is more often in smaller businesses, but you will find yourself having a variety of things to do, so you can always alternate your schedule. Speaking of alternating schedules, you will probably find that this is part of the job, as you’ll need to adapt your schedule to whatever administrative support is required.
Attending meetings and taking minutes may also be a requirement, which will need you to be trained for writing shorthand. The critical components employers will look for in you are that you are excellent spoken, with good communication skills both verbal and written.
To become a secretary, there are no formal qualifications required. Employers are more interested in your personal capabilities, rather than your standard of education.
That said, it is advantageous to have good GCSE grades, to show you have good written skills, which is essential for secretarial work, as well as an excellent telephone manner, as you will be the first point of contact in a business.
The main aspects employers want to see in their secretary are the ability to provide computer support for typing letters, taking minutes, or creating spreadsheets for financial data entry requirements. Perhaps doing transcription work as well. The ability to provide that type of administrative support is the main components you will need for secretary jobs.
To broaden your employment opportunities though, you can study towards any type of qualification in the following areas:
An HND in any of those, or even an NVQ at level three preferably, will be sufficient for most employers. The qualifications can often be gained on the job, through training schemes, which encourage you to further your skills, through day release training at local colleges.
There’s also individual training courses that you can take to further develop your skills in certain areas, to help broaden the admin support services you can provide to companies. These are offered through a number of colleges, where you can gain City & Guilds certificates in areas, such as:
Audio transcription and knowing shorthand will mainly be required in legal secretary positions.
The role of a secretary tends to vary and in some respects has changed over the years.
Many secretaries in the profession even act more like a Personal Assistant (PA). Some of the general duties of a secretary may include the handling of paper work and clerical work, you might be required to meet and great clients or customers, to man the switch board and transfer calls to the relevant department, book appointments, type correspondence and so on. Of course these duties may not be the same for every post however these tend to be the main ones that you may find you are expected to do.
In order to carry out this role you will need to have certain skills, such as; good communication skills, be able to manage your time, work on own initiative as well as within a team, managing tasks and you may be required to use your discretion and respect confidentiality in certain situations.
You would also need to be polite and helpful and dress appropriately as you may be the first person that a client or customers sees so you need to represent the company by making a good impression.
The hours that you work again will be dependent on the position. You can usually find both part time and full time roles as a secretary. You may be required to just work mornings, evenings or weekends or other positions my require you to work full time Monday to Friday 9-5pm for example. Examples of some work settings that you might find yourself in –
As a secretary for a school you would be under the direct supervision of the head master or mistress. You would undertake various clerical task sand typing, be expected to meet and greet children and visitors at the school and you may have some financial duties e.g. deal with tuition fees. You would be expected to work during the school term time.
You would be based at a law firm and maybe involved in office management and then the general administrative tasks. You would work alongside solicitors, lawyers and other legal executives.
You would be required to perform the general administrative tasks, you might be based in a health centre, hospital or GP surgery. You would need to remain confidential at all times and professional as you would have access to patient’s personal information. These are just a few examples of some positions you might be interested in if you are thinking of becoming a secretary.
You could also work in a hairdressers, leisure centre, beauticians etc the list is endless.
The salary varies also as this will be dependent on the job role, location, your duties and what experience you may need. Generally you can earn anything between £13,000 and £35,000 per annum.