Career Facts

Investigate MORE INFO on all professions that sound interesting. Take your time. Don't skip a step.

Secretary (except legal, medical, or executive)

Job Outlook: -7% (Decline)

  1. Is WHAT YOU DO enjoyable?
  2. Does the WORK ENVIRONMENT feel comfortable?
  3. Are you ok with THE REQUIREMENTS?
  4. Is the PAY ENOUGH?
  5. Is the JOB OUTLOOK positive- more than 7%?
  6. Still interested? WATCH THE VIDEO
  7. RELATED OCCUPATIONS Click here to view similar jobs.
FIND A JOB and more.

What Secretaries and Administrative Assistants Do About this section

Secretaries and administrative assistants
Secretaries and administrative assistants maintain databases and filing systems.

Secretaries and administrative assistants do routine clerical and organizational tasks. They arrange files, prepare documents, schedule appointments, and support other staff.

Duties

Secretaries and administrative assistants typically do the following:

  • Answer telephones and take messages or transfer calls
  • Schedule appointments and update event calendars
  • Arrange staff meetings
  • Handle incoming and outgoing mail and faxes
  • Prepare memos, invoices, or reports
  • Edit documents
  • Maintain databases and filing systems
  • Perform basic bookkeeping

Secretaries and administrative assistants help an organization run efficiently. They use computer software to create spreadsheets; manage databases; and prepare presentations, reports, and documents. They also may negotiate with vendors, buy supplies, and manage stockrooms or corporate libraries. Secretaries and administrative assistants also use videoconferencing and other office equipment. Specific job duties vary by experience, job title, and specialty.

The following are examples of types of secretaries and administrative assistants: 

Executive secretaries and executive administrative assistants provide high-level support for an office and for top executives of an organization. They often handle complex responsibilities, such as reviewing incoming documents, conducting research, and preparing reports. Some also supervise clerical staff.

Legal secretaries and administrative assistants must have knowledge of legal terminology and procedures. They prepare summonses, complaints, motions, subpoenas, and other legal documents under the supervision of an attorney or a paralegal. They also review legal journals and help with legal research—for example, by verifying quotes and citations in legal briefs.

Medical secretaries and administrative assistants transcribe dictation and prepare reports or articles for physicians or medical scientists. They also take simple medical histories of patients, arrange for patients to be hospitalized, or process insurance payments. Medical secretaries and administrative assistants need to be familiar with medical terminology and codes, medical records, and hospital or laboratory procedures.

Secretaries and administrative assistants, except legal, medical, and executive form the largest subcategory of secretaries and administrative assistants. They handle administrative activities for offices in almost every sector of the economy, including schools, government, and private corporations. For example, secretaries in schools are often responsible for most of the communications among parents, students, the community, teachers, and school administrators. They schedule appointments, receive visitors, and keep track of student records.

Work Environment About this section

Secretaries and administrative assistants
Secretaries and administrative assistants usually work in offices.

Secretaries and administrative assistants held about 3.4 million jobs in 2021. Employment in the detailed occupations that make up secretaries and administrative assistants was distributed as follows:

Secretaries and administrative assistants, except legal, medical, and executive 2,075,600
Medical secretaries and administrative assistants 672,300
Executive secretaries and executive administrative assistants 508,000
Legal secretaries and administrative assistants 157,800

The largest employers of secretaries and administrative assistants were as follows:

Healthcare and social assistance 26%
Educational services; state, local, and private 15
Professional, scientific, and technical services 11
Government 8
Religious, grantmaking, civic, professional, and similar organizations 6

Secretaries and administrative assistants work in nearly every industry.

Most secretaries and administrative assistants work in offices. Some administrative assistants work out of their own homes as virtual assistants.

Work Schedules

Most secretaries and administrative assistants work full time.

How to Become a Secretary or Administrative Assistant About this section

Secretaries and administrative assistants
Secretaries and administrative assistants may seek training in word processing, spreadsheet, and database software.

High school graduates who are comfortable using word processing and spreadsheet programs typically qualify for entry-level positions. Although workers typically learn their duties over several weeks on the job, legal and medical secretaries and administrative assistants may need additional training to learn industry-specific terminology. Executive secretaries and executive administrative assistants typically need several years of related work experience.

Education

Some community colleges and technical schools offer courses or programs in a variety of secretarial and administrative assistance fields. For example, courses or programs in office procedures focus on working in a business setting; those in industry-specific terminology and practices prepare students for jobs as medical and legal secretaries. Temporary placement agencies also may provide training in word processing, spreadsheet, and database software.

A bachelor's degree typically is not required to become a secretary or administrative assistant. However, some of these workers have a degree in a field such as business, education, or communications. Employers may prefer to hire candidates for executive secretary and executive administrative assistant positions who have taken some college courses or have a bachelor’s degree. 

Training

Secretaries and administrative assistants typically learn their skills through on-the-job training that lasts a few weeks. During this time, they learn about administrative procedures, including how to prepare documents. Medical and legal secretaries and administrative assistants may train for several months as they learn industry-specific terminology and practices.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Executive secretaries and executive administrative assistants typically need several years of work experience in other administrative positions, such as secretaries and general office clerks.

Important Qualities

Decision-making skills. Secretaries and administrative assistants often prioritize tasks and make decisions on their employers’ behalf, so good judgment is essential.

Interpersonal skills. Secretaries and administrative assistants interact with clients, customers, or staff. They should communicate effectively and be courteous when interacting with others.

Organizational skills. Secretaries and administrative assistants keep files, folders, and schedules in order so that an office runs efficiently.

Writing skills. Secretaries and administrative assistants write memos and emails when communicating with managers, employees, and customers. Therefore, they must have good grammar, ensure accuracy, and maintain a professional tone.

Pay About this section

Secretaries and Administrative Assistants

Median annual wages, May 2021

Total, all occupations

$45,760

Secretaries and administrative assistants

$39,680

Office and administrative support occupations

$38,050

 

The median annual wage for secretaries and administrative assistants was $39,680 in May 2021. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $28,920, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $63,100.

Median annual wages for secretaries and administrative assistants in May 2021 were as follows:

Executive secretaries and executive administrative assistants $62,060
Legal secretaries and administrative assistants 47,710
Secretaries and administrative assistants, except legal, medical, and executive 37,880
Medical secretaries and administrative assistants 37,450

In May 2021, the median annual wages for secretaries and administrative assistants in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Professional, scientific, and technical services $47,150
Government 46,950
Religious, grantmaking, civic, professional, and similar organizations 43,860
Educational services; state, local, and private 39,990
Healthcare and social assistance 37,660

Most secretaries and administrative assistants work full time.

Job Outlook About this section

Secretaries and Administrative Assistants

Percent change in employment, projected 2021-31

Total, all occupations

5%

Office and administrative support occupations

-4%

Secretaries and administrative assistants

-8%

 

Overall employment of secretaries and administrative assistants is projected to decline 8 percent from 2021 to 2031.

Despite declining employment, about 354,000 openings for secretaries and administrative assistants are projected each year, on average, over the decade. All of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to other occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Employment

Technology enables staff in many organizations to prepare their own documents without the help of secretaries. Additionally, many executive secretaries and executive administrative assistants support more than one manager in an organization, and many managers now do tasks that were previously done by these workers. In legal firms, paralegals and legal assistants use technology that enables them to perform tasks, such as preparing and filing documents, that were previously done by legal secretaries.

Employment growth is projected for medical secretaries, primarily due to the growth of the healthcare industry. For example, baby boomers will require more medical services as they age. Medical secretaries will be needed to handle administrative tasks related to billing and insurance processing of Medicare and other claims.

Employment projections data for secretaries and administrative assistants, 2021-31
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2021 Projected Employment, 2031 Change, 2021-31 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Secretaries and administrative assistants

43-6000 3,413,600 3,126,700 -8 -286,900 Get data

Executive secretaries and executive administrative assistants

43-6011 508,000 405,400 -20 -102,600 Get data

Legal secretaries and administrative assistants

43-6012 157,800 127,500 -19 -30,400 Get data

Medical secretaries and administrative assistants

43-6013 672,300 725,800 8 53,600 Get data

Secretaries and administrative assistants, except legal, medical, and executive

43-6014 2,075,600 1,868,000 -10 -207,600 Get data

Video

Go back and forth. ADD and DELETE on your career planner. Then, make a decision. CHOOSE YOUR DREAM CAREER.