How to Become a Secretary
Secretary Careers & Degrees

When you become a secretary, you become the control room of an office.

While often underestimated, it’s the secretary who makes sure that office processes run smoothly, that people turn up to meetings on time, and that records are kept and maintained in the right way.

A good secretary is a person with a wide skills base, who can multitask, and is also a good communicator.

For the most part, a secretary completes clerical tasks.

This could include answering phones, greeting customers and scheduling meetings and appointments.

The administrative part of the job of a secretary usually includes typing letters and correspondence, filing, and other ad hoc duties.

There is a lot of variation in the role of a secretary.

Some may work for one person in a personal assistant role; others may meet the needs of an entire office of staff.

Some secretaries may also perform other duties such as human resources, accounts, and payroll.

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Education Requirements to Become a Secretary

If you would like to become a secretary, then there are a few educational pathways that you could choose to take.

There are many entry level positions that don’t require any formal training at all.

While these positions don’t pay a lot, you will receive invaluable experience that will lead to other opportunities later on.

Community colleges offer two year associates degrees in business administration where you will learn a range of secretarial and administrative skills.

These courses can be integral in helping you get your first job, and also in helping you to progress faster up the career ladder.

Another option is to complete a four year bachelor’s degree in business administration.

If you are considering becoming an executive assistant, then this might be the kind of qualification you might consider.

Strong computer literacy is important when you become a secretary.

If you don’t feel your skills are up to scratch, you might like to take a short course, or get in some practice before you start looking for a job.

Many employers will want to test you on this before you being.

Secretary Job Description

A secretary provides administrative support to a person, an office, or an organization.

You will find them working in almost any type of industry.

A good thing when you become a secretary is that there are always plenty of jobs available.

The role of a secretary is quite varied.

They could be answering phones, or completing complicated reports and data sheets.

While some secretaries only have a few duties, others take on complicated roles with much responsibility.

The path you take when you become a secretary will depend on your interests, qualifications and skills.

Here are some examples of the kind of tasks a secretary might complete:

  • Answering phones
  • Greeting clients
  • Scheduling meetings and appointments
  • Data Entry
  • Completing reports
  • Preparing correspondence

When you become a secretary, you will work with a wide range of people.

You’ll learn to be pleasant and diplomatic at all times, a skill that is good to have in any occupation.

Secretary Salary and Career Path

When you become a secretary, you will begin your career in an entry level role.

This will give you a good chance to learn about your job.

You will most likely be completing very basic tasks.

As you gain experience, you will be given greater responsibilities.

Some secretaries will go on to become specialists in the legal or medical field.

These roles usually demand a high salary and offer more career progression.

Others get work as administrative assistants, office managers, or other roles within the field.

Here are some examples of roles similar to a secretary which you might move onto later in your career:

The median salary for a secretary is $29,000.

Most in this profession earn between $23,000 and $35,000 a year.

Those in specialized roles can expect to earn upwards of $40,000 a year.

If you’re looking for an entry level role that can grow into a whole range of opportunities then you might consider working as a secretary.

There is lots of opportunity to get your start in this role, and also a lot of opportunity for career progression.

The below information is based on the 2019 BLS national averages.
  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

National Average Salary


Average Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
District of Columbia$51,010
New Hampshire$38,570
New Jersey$43,440
New Mexico$35,250
New York$42,490
North Carolina$37,620
North Dakota$38,070
Rhode Island$44,270
South Carolina$36,770
South Dakota$30,210
West Virginia$32,990
Puerto Rico$22,680
Virgin Islands$36,340

The top earning state in the field is District of Columbia, where the average salary is $51,010.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

District of Columbia - $51,010
Connecticut - $48,320
Massachusetts - $47,870
California - $44,880
Washington - $44,340
* Salary information based on the May 2019 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Secretaries and Administrative Assistants, OCC Code 43-6014, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

QuestionWhat does a secretary do?

A secretary is someone who helps keep the business or organization moving smoothly.

He or she takes care of the organizational and administrative tasks.

A secretary can also be called a ‘personal assistant’ or ‘administrator’ with the first title being a bit old-fashioned.

The typical responsibilities of a secretary usually include arranging appointments; taking calls and answering emails; managing databases; coordinating publicity tasks; preparing reports; acting as a receptionist; organizing meetings; prioritizing workloads; processing bills, and so on.

Many people decide to start as a secretary in order to make their way to a higher position in the future.

A great secretary has to have outstanding communication skills; be able to work in a team; be attentive to details; have impeccable negotiation skills; be able to use the computer, etc.

QuestionHow much do secretaries make?

On average, a secretary or an administrative assistant can expect to earn anywhere between $20.000 and $43.500 per year.

If you have less than a year of experience, you can earn a little more than $11 per hour.

Secretaries with 1-4 years of experience make around $12.50 hourly, while the professionals with 5-9 years of experience can earn over $13.50.

In case you have been a secretary for a decade and more, you can make up to $15 per hour.

However, the salary certainly does depend on the location and the employer.

Secretaries at Medical Care centers have the highest salaries in the US – a little over $15 per hour.

QuestionHow much does it cost to become a secretary?

In general, you would need only a high school diploma in order to become a secretary.

However, in case you want to work in certain fields (like medical and legal secretaries, for example), you might be required to have a certificate or even a degree.

It might be a good idea to complete Microsoft Office courses; those will cost you anywhere between $300 and $670.

Community colleges offer office administration programs.

A medical administration program, for example, can cost from $2.500 to $10.000.

QuestionWhat is the demand for secretaries?

From 2016 to 2026, the overall secretary job market is expected to decline by 6%.

The employment of medical secretaries is expected to grow by 22%, while the employment of executive secretaries is projected to decline by 17%.

Executive assistants are able to support more than one manager in a company, that’s why there won’t be a need for more secretaries in this field.

In case you want to become a legal secretary, you better think twice, as the job market is expected to decline by 19%.

This particular field is now using special technology that can perform the tasks of a regular legal secretary (like filling and preparing documents).

QuestionHow long does it take to become a secretary?

In case you have a high school diploma, you can already apply for entry-level positions in the field as on-job training will be provided.

There are a lot of office-related courses (whether online or offline) that can be completed in a few weeks or months (depending on your schedule).

The office administration programs offered by community colleges typically last for a year or two.

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