Updated February 21, 2017 | Factmonster Staff

What is this job like?

Secretaries make appointments. They put files in order. They also write letters and answer the phone. They may make travel plans. Secretaries use computers, fax machines, and copiers. Secretaries make sure that the information that leaves the office is right. Other people in the office rely on secretaries to keep things going well.

Some secretaries are called executive secretaries or administrative assistants. These secretaries have more duties. Some make reports and train others. Some secretaries work in one field, such as medicine or law. Medical secretaries help doctors keep track of patients. Legal secretaries work with lawyers.

Most work in offices. These offices can be in companies small or large. They work in hospitals, schools, or banks. Secretaries often must sit for a long time. Also, they spend a lot of time using computers. Sometimes this causes eye strain or wrist problems.

Some companies allow them to work at different times of the day. They also might do some of their work at home. Most secretaries work 40 hours a week, but some work part time.

How do you get ready?

Secretaries and administrative assistants should be good at keyboarding. They also should have good grammar and be well-spoken. They need to know how to use a word processor. They may also need to know other software programs. Secretaries must operate different office equipment. Employers want their secretaries to get along well with others. They should also be well organized and honest. A high school diploma is needed for most full-time jobs. Once they have a job, secretaries often must take courses to update their skills. Medical and legal secretaries need special training.

Source: The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
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