How to become a secretary

Working in a professional environment, secretaries are the hub of company operations. They focus on administrative tasks to keep the busy office running smoothly. They work hard providing assistance to busy executives, and other staff members based at the office. As an excellent communicator with strong writing skills, who loves to organise everything, you could make the perfect secretary. The secretary exists across a variety of industries. For the most part, you can find them working in government organisations or in industries such as the legal, finance or health industry. Professionalism is of the utmost importance for success. This professionalism should reflect in your writing and communication style.

Do you enjoy getting everyone and everything organised? You ooze professionalism in your communication? Do you want to help a busy office run smoothly and efficiently? If so, you could be the next super-secretary. Why not keep reading to find out about the qualifications you will need. As well as to discover the steps to follow to land your perfect job? 

Step one: Choose a course

In a competitive job market getting your foot in the door and your first job as a secretary can be a challenge. This is why taking the time to invest in your future with training and qualifications is a good idea. You can then have an edge over your competitors. Choose a course which gives you a good foundation of knowledge and has a focus which interests you.

Step two: Apply for a job

Once you have gained your qualifications you can begin to look for work. You will need to start with an entry-level role and then seek to progress and specialise later once you have more experience. When you begin to apply for your first job remember to tailor your resume and cover letter for each application. Making sure you highlight your qualifications, personal strengths and if you have any relevant experience.

Step three: Gain experience

After you have landed your first job, focus on perfecting your skills and building up your experience. Then, as you develop you can consider moving forward to progress your career. When you are ready to progress you may want to consider taking a course to learn any new skills you might need for your progression.

Step four: Progress your career with a specialism

The skills of a secretary will help you in a range of administrative opportunities. The skill set is readily transferable. Some specialisations require technical or focused knowledge. You can acquire this knowledge through extra study or looking for opportunities with on the job training.

Personal Assistant

The personal assistant works for an individual to help them with the administrative aspects of their work. You might help an executive or other high up professionals like financial advisers. In addition, you manage their diary agreeing on appointments with clients. As well as other administrative tasks you screen phone calls making sure to only put desired people through to your boss. In the same way, you do any other required administrative tasks:  taking notes, writing correspondence and so on.

Legal Secretary

Working with lawyers the legal secretary provides administrative support to the office. You will find yourself preparing legal documents, writing correspondence to clients, taking phone calls, managing the diary. Legal secretaries need to have familiarity with legal terms and different forms of legal documents. Furthermore, they need exceptional writing and grammar.

Medical Secretary

You will find medical secretaries working in hospitals, nursing homes, and doctor’s surgeries. They focus on scheduling the patient appointments, call-backs and manage the filing system with patient information. To work in the medical field secretaries need to learn medical terminology, and understand something about the procedures of the medical profession.

Duties of a Secretary

As a secretary,your base is at the front end of the office. You focus on keeping the office running efficiently in an organised way. Usually, you receive the incoming phone calls. You screen and forward the call when appropriate or handle the enquiry when possible. In addition, you receive the incoming mail, sorting and distributing it to staff members. Usually, you will coordinate the calendar, make appointments, and maintain records. You may work directly under one executive, or you may work as a general secretary for the office. When working for an individual your focus is on that particular person. As you assist them to have a smooth workflow and productive day. You may coordinate meetings and make travel arrangements. Furthermore, you draft correspondence as per the instructions of your superiors. You may take meeting minutes, and prepare reports.


  • Updating appointment diaries and calendars
  • Scheduling events
  • Sorting incoming and outgoing mail
  • Receiving phone calls
  • Drafting correspondence
  • Taking notes
  • Preparing reports
  • Coordinating staff meetings

Skills for Success

Firstly and foremost as a secretary, you will need excellent organisational skills. This is so you will manage the range of tasks given to you without dropping one of the many balls you juggle. You will also need to meet strict deadlines and maintain the office calendar. In addition, excellent communication skills are imperative. You will be taking phone calls, and communicating with staff members, and clients. Secretaries demonstrate impeccable professionalism at all times. You need to keep cool and calm under pressure and adapt to the needs of the people who you work for. IT skills are important because you will use the computer to write correspondence and to do other tasks. 

Skills and attributes

  • Knowledge of data entry and filing systems
  • Able to multitask
  • Expert organiser
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Top-notch writing skills
  • Pays attention to detail
  • IT skills

How much do Secretaries make in Australia?

In Australia, secretaries earn a median wage of $49823 per year. This varies according to a number of factors and is intended as a reference only, from Payscale 05/’18.

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