What Does a Secretary Do?

A secretary is the first point of contact for the company or organisation they represent, and so their manner and professionalism are important in upholding the company’s image and reputation.

They may be responsible for answering calls and emails, signposting to relevant contacts or departments, as well as maintaining internal communication, organising meetings, administrative tasks, taking minutes, and keeping records.


How Does Being a Secretary Vary by Industry?

A secretary’s role can vary hugely from industry to industry and across the private and public sectors. That said, The positions generally requiring the most industry-specific qualifications are legal secretaries and medical secretaries.

Large organisations are likely to have a defined scope for the role, whereas in a role for a smaller company, you may be expected to take on additional administrative responsibilities, due to fewer staff members. This can be valuable experience, giving you more skills and experience to draw from in the future.

How Do You Become a Secretary?

There is no set route to gaining a position as a secretary and it really will vary across industries. Some secretary positions are entry-level and others come with more responsibility and will command a higher level of education or experience.

To be in the running for a secretary role, you’ll need to be able to demonstrate the following:

  • Excellent organisational skills
  • Excellent oral and written communication
  • A welcoming, professional telephone manner
  • The ability to prioritise tasks and work to deadlines
  • Knowledge of confidentiality and data protection protocols
  • Project management skills
  • The ability to work well with others
  • Attention to detail
  • IT skills

In addition to these skills, it will be an advantage to have experience working in an office environment or a public-facing role.

If you don’t have any relevant experience, a great place to start is with secretary courses online. There is a range of courses available, even including industry-specific training such as legal secretary courses and medical secretary courses.

What Qualifications Do You Need to be a Secretary?

As a general rule, a good level of education to at least an HND or degree level will be expected, along with some experience in administration or prior secretarial work.

A degree or qualification in any of the following or similar will be an advantage:

  • Business management
  • Business administration
  • Public administration
  • Law

There is also a range of secretarial courses aimed at graduates that can give you an advantage.

What are The Career Progression Opportunities for a Secretary?

Work as a secretary can be a way in to other jobs within a company. It’s common to take a role as a secretary as a first career step in order to gain administrative experience or experience within a certain sector. 

There is also the opportunity to move up the career ladder into more senior administrative roles following a position as a secretary, such as a team leader, or senior administrator. Once in post, there may be opportunities to take training in order to progress such as IT or business courses.

How Much Does a Secretary Make?

Glassdood.co.uk states the average salary for a secretary in the UK is £25,067 depending on sector and location, ranging from £25,000 – £43,000. Jobs in the not-for-profit sector have the lowest level of pay, compared to banking, finance and law industries which tend to pay the highest rates.  


Do I need experience to work as a secretary?

For a job as a secretary, experience is valued very highly, in many cases above qualifications. It’s important to gain office or administrative experience to maximise your chances.

Do I need a degree to work as a secretary?

Qualification requirements will vary depending on the role. For an entry-level secretary role, a degree will not be required, and experience is valued highly. For a more senior role, for example in a law firm, a degree may be a pre-requisite.

Can I work part-time as a secretary?

Yes. There are lots of part-time opportunities for secretaries available, and hours will reflect the needs of the company advertising.

What industries employ a secretary?

Multiple industries including both the private and public sectors employ secretaries. Some examples include:

  • Academic institutions including schools, colleges, and universities
  • Public sector organisations
  • Charities
  • Hospitality and leisure companies
  • Retail outlets
  • Legal and financial services
  • Media, marketing, and communications companies
  • Government bodies

Getting Started

Do you want to get started on the path to becoming a secretary today? Pitman Training is an independent and flexible training provider that offers over 250 training programs in popular career fields, including our world-class Secretarial courses and Personal-Assistant courses. With over 100 years of experience, Pitman Training’s premium courses are your best bet to get the education you need to jumpstart your career quickly and with confidence. Contact us for more information or check out our list of premium courses!