If you are wondering how to become a secretary, below are tips and advice on training for and beginning careers in this area of administration, and secretarial job prospects in the UK.

    The Job Description
    Secretaries provide admin support to professionals or teams of staff in any type of business or organisation.

    Typical responsibilities:

    * typing letters and documentation
    * maintaining computerised records on databases and spreadsheets
    * dealing with telephone enquiries
    * booking appointments and organising diaries for teams and managers
    * taking the minutes at meetings
    * managing incoming / outgoing correspondance
    * taking notes using shorthand and drafting letters or documents
    * general administration, such as photocopying, filing and printing

    Person Specification
    The key personal attributes of a good secretary include:

    * strong written and verbal communication
    * good organisation and time-management
    * excellent keyboard skills and proficiency in the use of relevant computer software
    * accuracy and a keen eye for detail
    * calm and speed under pressure in order to meet deadlines
    * discretion when dealing with sensitive or confidential information
    * good teamworking abilities

    How to become a secretary
    There are no specific requirements of entry for secretarial jobs and they can vary between each employer. You need a good general education and GCSE (A-C)/S grades (1-3), especially English will be advantageous or essential. An employer might test IT and telephone abilities.

    Temporary assignments can enable you to gain valuable experience that could lead to permanent employment.

    An employer might prefer recognised administrative or secretarial qualifications which you could gain through college study. Useful diplomas and certificates include:

    OCR (RSA)
    City and Guilds
    Education Development International (LCCI)

    Secretarial apprenticeship schemes may also be available.

    Training and Development
    On starting your job, training will commence in company systems and procedures. Employers may support study for a secretarial qualification, via on the job training or college day-release.

    Relevant certifications:

    NVQ/SVQ Business and Administration levels 1-4
    LCCI Education Development International Business Administration Diploma and Private Secretary’s Diploma.
    OCR Administration Certificate levels 1-3 and Higher Level Diploma in Administrative and Secretarial Procedures.
    City & Guilds and OCR offer certificates in secretarial skills such as shorthand, text production, office procedures, audio transcription, word processing and typewriting.

    The Pay
    Typical starting salary can range between £11k and £14k per annum.
    More experienced earn from £15k to £19k.
    Secretaries with special skills can earn £25k per annum.

    Job Prospects
    Secretarial staff work in any kind of business or organisation and you can find jobs advertised in newspapers, recruitment agencies, websites or job centres.

    With experience, you can progress to office manager or PA roles, as well as specialising in certain disciplines, for example as a legal or medical secretary.

    Useful resources:
    Institute of Qualified Professional Secretaries – IQPS
    Suite 464, 24-28 St Leonards Road
    SL4 3BB
    Tel: 0844 8000 182

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