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What is this job like?

Secretaries make appointments. They put files in order. They also write letters and answer the phone. Some 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 often 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, usually in front of a computer. 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 using a computer. This means they should be able to type fast and be familiar with a variety of software programs. They also should have good grammar and be well-spoken. Secretaries must operate different office equipment. Employers want their secretaries to get along well with others. They should also be well organized. 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.

How many jobs are there?

Secretaries and administrative assistants held about 4.3 million jobs in 2008. This is one of the largest job categories in the United States. Jobs were located in many industries ranging from education and health to government and retail trade.

What about the future?

The number of jobs for secretaries and administrative assistants is expected to grow about as fast as the average for all occupations through 2018. Because this occupation is very large, many jobs will become available from employment growth and the need to replace workers who transfer to other occupations. Job opportunities should be best for well-qualified and experienced secretaries.

How much does this job pay?

In May 2008, executive secretaries and administrative assistants had average yearly wages of $42,340


Salaries vary a great deal, depending on differences in skill, experience, and level of responsibility.

Are there other jobs like this?

Bookkeeping clerks

Court reporters

Data entry and information processing workers

Human resources, training, and labor relations managers and specialists

Receptionists and information clerks

Medical assistants

Medical records and health information technicians


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