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What Training Will Help ME Start a Career As a Professional Secretary?

There are many ways a student can undergo training to become a professional secretary. Read on to learn more about these options and get info on available certification in the secretarial field.

Overview of Professional Secretary Training

Training options for professional secretaries, more commonly called administrative or executive assistants, include on-the-job training and postsecondary educational programs. There are also certification programs in the secretarial field for those looking to distinguish themselves from other job applicants.

Important Facts About This Occupation

Key Skills Secretaries must have discretion when handling private or confidential information; they must be good at interacting with other staff as well as clients and have excellent organizational and writing skills
Similar Occupations Accounting clerks, general office clerks, medical records and health information technicians, medical transcriptionists, paralegals and legal assistants, receptionists
Median Salary (2018) $38,880 (for secretaries and administrative assistants)*
Job Outlook (2016-2026) -5% (for secretaries and administrative assistants)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

On-the-Job Training

Candidates with a high school diploma might be able to obtain an entry-level secretarial position. They generally need basic office skills, which can be built by taking high school courses in typing, shorthand, math, computers and bookkeeping or by signing on with an agency that provides businesses with temporary officer workers. Additionally, some employers provide their own on-the-job training.

Postsecondary Education

Many community colleges and technical or vocational schools offer 1- to 2-year programs for prospective administrative assistants. The programs might award a certificate, diploma or associate's degree, and they typically teach office procedures, such as filing and scheduling, along with proper phone etiquette. Students also might learn about various office software, web conferencing and transcription techniques. Other courses might cover business law and ethics, accounting and professional development. Additionally, some programs feature classes geared toward specific workplaces, such as schools or medical or legal offices.

Continuing Education

Professional secretaries might receive additional instruction from software and equipment vendors. They also can take continuing education classes, either on-campus or online, to stay up-to-date with the latest technology and other changes in the office environment.

Certification

Available credentials include the Certified Administrative Professional (CAP) designation from the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP). This CAP credential is offered with optional specialities in Organizational Management (OM) and Technology Applications (TA).

Applicants without a college degree must have at least four years of professional experience to sit for the certification exams. Between two and three years of experience are required for applicants with an associate's or bachelor's degree.