Secretary Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

Last updated: August 22, 2022

A Secretary, or Administrative Assistant, is responsible for facilitating communications within an office and fielding interactions with the public. Their duties include answering and redirecting phone calls, scheduling meetings and providing personalized support for other employees in their office.

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Secretary Duties and Responsibilities

Secretaries are typically the first impression of your company, often working at a front desk. They might perform tasks such as keeping files, booking meetings, setting appointments and managing day-to-day operations of a company. Secretaries might have access to customer accounts and may be required to resolve a customer’s issue.

Secretaries may also have the following duties::

  • Greet visitors and direct them to the appropriate departments or individuals
  • Answer telephones and respond to inquiries via telephone or email
  • Book meeting rooms, set up conference calls and take messages and minutes during meetings
  • Perform administrative tasks, including filing and photocopying
  • Write emails, memos and letters
  • Implement and/or develop office procedures and record systems
  • Manage database entry and client files
  • Order and maintain supplies
  • Document financial information
  • Organize and distribute messages
  • Make and confirm travel arrangements
  • Prepare and mail outgoing correspondence
  • Maintain confidential department files/records
  • Perform routine bookkeeping tasks
  • Assist with presentations and reports
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What does a Secretary do?

Secretaries can work in any office environment or business that has a front desk to carry out administrative tasks, arrange staff schedules and manage correspondence. They welcome visitors and determine their reason for stopping by the office, acting as an intermediary to make sure that their coworkers are expecting guests before letting them back into the office. Secretaries manage general files and records, maintaining a logical organization system so they can easily access and send information when requested. Secretaries can also schedule transportation and lodging for coworkers who travel and prepare documents for business meetings.

Secretary skills and qualifications

As a necessary part of your team, Secretaries must have excellent time management skills and be able to multitask. Patience, organization skills and a can-do attitude are important. Secretaries should also have basic computer skills.

Here are several other skills and qualifications Secretaries should have:

  • High school diploma or GED
  • 2+ years of clerical experience
  • Knowledge of specific software programs used within your organization
  • Experience in data processing, bookkeeping or other skills you need to have performed
  • Ability to work independently
  • Organized and professional demeanor
  • Exceptional written and verbal communication skills
  • Experience maintaining and prioritizing a manager’s calendar

Secretary salary expectations

A Secretary makes an average of $25,942 per year. Salary may depend on level of experience, education and the geographical location. 

Secretary education and training requirements

Secretaries often are high school graduates, although some industries such as legal and medical secretaries need higher education to understand terminology and procedures. For instance, a bachelor’s degree in business administration can be beneficial for understanding corporate environments. Certification in specific software programs may be helpful to your organization, so you should list them in the job description if required for the position.

Secretary experience requirements

Secretaries should have experience communicating with others and have the ability to greet and assist customers in a welcoming and professional manager. They may need to communicate with customers on the phone, in person, through an online chat or in writing. 

Secretary positions can be entry-level, in which case an employee often learns on the job. However, a Secretary should also have basic computer skills, as well as familiarity with multiple software applications. They will need to manage schedules, meeting spaces, appointments and more and should have experience in managing schedules in other capacities. 

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Frequently asked questions about Secretaries


What is the difference between a Secretary and an Office Clerk?

Secretaries and Office Clerks serve similar roles, but Secretaries tend to have more front-facing responsibilities while Office Clerks work behind the scenes. Secretaries provide reception services for an entire office, department or specific person while Office Clerks may not interact with the public at all. Office Clerks focus on completing paperwork, performing data entry tasks and running basic errands around the office. Secretaries handle immediate communication tasks to keep the office up-to-date on its daily activities, while Office Clerks may work on specific projects like digitizing old files or collecting receipts for client accounts.


What are the characteristics of a good Secretary?

Good Secretaries are highly professional and tactful when interacting with both office workers and visitors. They understand how to use discretion when discussing office activities with customers and clients, being careful not to make any promises that they can’t keep or provide any inaccurate information. Successful Secretaries act with urgency when handling communications and completing clerical tasks, making sure that everyone is aware of updated information in a timely manner. They observe office routines and learn to anticipate the needs of their coworkers and clients to make workflows even more efficient.


What are the daily duties of a Secretary?

Secretaries tend to work typical business hours in an office environment, although some Secretaries may accompany their team on business trips or work late hours to provide personalized assistance. They start the day by checking emails, physical mail and voice messages to catch up on any office communications that occurred when they were out of the office. They make calls to confirm appointments and send reminders to office staff. Secretaries may attend office meetings and take notes and meeting minutes, then distribute the summary through the office. At the end of the day they set up outgoing messages.


What are the different types of Secretary?

While Secretaries usually perform general clerical and administrative work, they can have more specific duties depending on their area of focus. Executive Secretaries and Private Secretaries provide support for a single high-level employee instead of serving an entire office, and may take on the duties of a personal assistant such as running errands. Some Secretaries, like Legal Secretaries and Medical Secretaries, may have a specialized knowledge of industry jargon and regulations. Other types of Secretaries include School Secretaries, Real Estate Secretaries and Stenographers.

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    Last updated: Apr 28, 2021