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Secretary Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

A Secretary, also sometimes known as an Administrator or a Personal Assistant, is a professional who supports management and colleagues in an organisation by taking care of administrative and clerical tasks. Their duties include greeting and directing visitors and handling correspondence, filing, document management and various other day-to-day office tasks.

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Secretary duties and responsibilities

Businesses in all sectors and of all sizes employ Secretaries to ensure that things run smoothly in an office. The type of duties that Secretaries have depend on such variables as the type of industry and the size of the company. In smaller companies, Secretaries will typically take care of a wider range of tasks. In general, however, here are some of the common day-to-day tasks of these professionals:

  • Taking care of front-of-house duties, such as greeting and directing visitors and handling deliveries
  • Maintaining an efficient and well-organised filing system for easy storage and retrieval
  • Taking care of all correspondence, including telephone calls, emails and faxes
  • Screening documents, booking meeting rooms, setting up conference calls and taking messages
  • Maintaining general company record systems to uphold accurate files
  • Scheduling appointments and organising meetings
  • Taking and distributing minutes
  • Creating and proofreading documents and drafting emails
  • Copying, printing and distributing documents
  • Taking care of routine clerical tasks, such as the ordering of office supplies
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What does a Secretary do?

Secretaries are the first point of contact for visitors, as they often work in the front office and also manage the office’s correspondence, including responding to emails and answering telephone calls. This means that they play an important role in representing a company and keeping clients happy. Apart from their client-facing duties, these professionals also take care of administrative and clerical tasks and help to keep a business organised and professional.

Secretary skills and qualifications

This role involves diverse duties that includes supporting staff, communicating with clients and managing administrative tasks. Secretaries also need a wide range of skills and should be good at multitasking and in order to be a successful a Secretary candidate will have various prerequisite skills and qualifications including: 

  • Excellent communication skills to effectively deal with clients, staff and managers
  • Excellent administrative and organisational skills
  • The ability to prioritise tasks and remain calm under pressure
  • The ability to work with others and work independently
  • Good customer service skills and a friendly, polite disposition
  • Experience maintaining and managing a manager’s calendar
  • Sound knowledge of computer systems and relevant software programs
  • Fluent English speaking skills
  • Good writing abilities

Secretary experience requirements

Most employers expect that Secretaries have some form of administrative or secretarial experience. Specific criteria may include knowledge of general office procedures and relevant computer programs, such as Word, Excel, Systems Applications and Products (SAP), Timelink and ActivePay software. Employers may also require that candidates have customer service experience and know how to operate basic office equipment. Secretaries that work in certain industries like law and medicine, may need to prove experience within these fields.

Secretary education and training requirements

There are no fixed education and training requirements for this career. Some enter the profession with a few GSCEs at grades 9 to 4, including English, and basic computer skills, whereas others gain knowledge and experience through an apprenticeship. Candidates can also complete a course in administration or secretarial skills. Cambridge International College (CIC), for instance, offers a Diploma in Administrative, Personal Assistant and Secretarial Duties. An institute like The Institute of Administrative Management also offers various courses in this field, including an Award in Professional Personal Assistant and Administration Skills and a Level 4 Certificate in Office and Administration Management.

Secretary salary expectations

According to Indeed Salaries, the average salary for a Secretary is £20,189 annually. Those who work in specialised fields like medicine or law, earn slightly more. A Medical Secretary, for instance, earns on average £21,506 per year. Senior Secretaries with many years of experience can expect to earn around £23,822 annually.

Job description samples for similar positions

If this job description doesn’t exactly match the job opening being advertised, here are a few other job descriptions of similar positions to look at:

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Secretary job description FAQs

What are the hours of the job?

A Secretary typically works a normal Monday to Friday, 40-hour workweek. These professionals rarely work after hours, over weekends or on bank holidays.

What qualifications and skills should a Legal Secretary have?

Legal Secretaries work closely together with Solicitors, Barristers and Legal Executives and craft their legal letters and documents. To do this work effectively, they need a solid grasp of legal terminology. Although it’s not a requirement, candidates can enroll for a course at the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEX) or the Institute of Legal Secretaries and PAs (ILSPA).

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