The saucy film Secretary starring Maggie Gyllenhaal is perhaps a little bit misleading when it comes to thinking about the working life of an actual secretary. In fact, a secretary is a vital administrative position in any office environment.
These absolute superstars use their organisational skills and administrative talents to facilitate business processes and make sure that busy offices are run smoothly and efficiently.
Secretaries also act as ‘gatekeepers’ for other professionals by screening and directing phone calls, answering emails and scheduling meetings.
These guys are responsible for providing people with the information that they need in a timely manner. They might also carry out other essential administrative tasks, such as typing, minute-taking, database coordination, diary management and filing.
As you can imagine, the specific duties of a secretary will vary depending on the size and type of business and what administrative support is needed. However, the general administrative and organisational tasks are usually the staple part of a secretary’s job.
Salary & benefits
Depending on the size of the organisation and the responsibilities involved in the specific job, a secretary can make anywhere between £14,000 and £45,000 a year.
The main determining factor in a secretary’s salary comes down to the company, its aspirations and the nature of its business. Indeed, some senior secretaries in large blue chip companies or investment banks can earn upwards of £70,000 per annum.
The role of a secretary can go far beyond the simple tasks of everyday business. Secretaries are often instrumental in other aspects of business practices, including being part of the screening process for the recruitment of low-level staff.
Some secretaries may even get the chance to go on business with other members of the organisation, assisting with tasks that may need to be completed outside of the regular office environment.
However, the majority of a secretary’s work will be done in an office alongside other staff members. Nine-to five-is the norm here, but secretaries may often have to work longer hours when the business requires it.
Although no specific degree or vocational qualification is required for a secretarial career, many degrees which test your administrative and organisational skills may give you a great step up. For instance, why not consider studying business or management studies?
Understandably, to thrive in a secretarial role, it would be a good idea for you to develop brilliant I.T. skills. A working knowledge of Excel, Access, PowerPoint, Word and Outlook are pretty much essential nowadays.
Furthermore, you will need to be professional, dependable, hardworking, calm under pressure and extremely well-organised. If you can show your potential employer that you’re worth a shot, they’ll give you one!
Training & progression
Any new position within a given company will involve going through an in-house training programme. This will allow you to become properly prepared and ready to deal with the daily responsibilities and tasks of a busy secretarial job.
However, as you progress through your career, you might get the opportunity to study for further professional qualifications that will help you to progress.
You could take part in official training courses that boost your I.T. skills, and perhaps even become a Microsoft Excel Super User. You could even start to move into project support and project management positions and begin taking PRINCE2 qualifications.
Progress through the company from an administration standpoint is fairly common. As we mentioned above, you could eventually look to move into more senior administrative positions. You could become a team leader or an office manager.
Alternatively, you could take the project support officer route and eventually move into project management. If you show that you are a hard worker and are competent with the type of business that occurs in your organisation, there are sure-fire opportunities for progression.