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How to become a secretary in Australia: careers in administration

A secretary provides administrative support and assistance to professionals and executives. They usually work in an office environment, undertaking a range of organisational and administrative tasks to aid the successful running of an office. They need to have brilliant written and face-to-face communication skills, as well as being excellent at organisation and planning. Secretaries are required in a variety of fields and industries to help various organisations to function effectively.
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Pathways

Being a secretary: daily duties

Secretaries perform a range of administrative tasks and clerical duties focused on the efficient running of an organisation’s office environment. They deal with incoming mail and phone calls, coordinate staff calendars, make appointments and keep records maintained. If they are providing administrative support to an individual such as an executive, they are responsible for ensuring the smooth running of their day-to-day workflow. This can include coordinating meetings and travel arrangements on their behalf.

Tasks:

  • Update appointment diaries and calendars
  • Schedule events
  • Process incoming and outgoing mail
  • Prepare reports, briefing notes and correspondence
  • Coordinate staff meetings
Skills

Being a secretary: skills for success

Secretaries need to be highly organised with the ability to meet strict deadlines and maintain an updated schedule of day-to-day activities. They also need to have outstanding communication skills, both verbally and in writing, and be able to work well with others. Secretaries need to demonstrate versatility and the ability to adapt. Having an intuitive understanding of the needs of those they assist is crucial. Secretaries should have good IT skills and be familiar with a range of software programs and functions.
Skills/attributes
  • Knowledge of data-entry and filing systems
  • Ability to multitask
  • Organisational expertise
  • Outstanding communication skills
  • Able to be versatile
Specs

Specialised roles within administration

Secretaries have a number of career options available to them if they wish to expand on their skills in administration and secretarial work.
  • Personal assistant
    Personal assistants generally work for a single individual, usually a professional or an executive. They organise and plan the daily activities of their employer’s professional life and give them administrative and organisational assistance to allow them to perform their role effectively.
  • Legal secretary
    Legal secretaries have a high level of understanding of legal terminology and a familiarity with various types of legal documents. They can be asked to prepare legal documents and reports, proof read for errors or transcribe draft texts.
  • Medical secretary
    Working in hospitals, nursing homes and doctors’ surgeries, medical secretaries are familiar with a range of medical terminologies, procedures and documents. They help plan and schedule patient appointments, arrange for call-backs and maintain filing systems to provide health professionals with correct patient information.
Pathways

Educational pathways for secretaries

There are a number of courses available for anyone wanting to pursue a career as a secretary. There are specialist courses targeting industry specific skills and knowledge, depending on what area you would like to specialise in.
  • Start your career
    Targeted training courses will allow you to begin your career as an administration professional.
  • Strengthen your skills
    Gain industry-relevant skills and knowledge to allow you to pursue your career as a secretary.
  • Build your resume
    Build on the administrative knowledge that you will need to succeed in your field.
  • Industry requirements
    Some employers may require you undertake further study to develop industry specific skills, such as in a legal or medical context.
  • Finding Work
    Put your training to good use and get the best professional head start in your administration career. Emphasise your personal strengths and achievements in your resume and target your cover letter to the job description listed.
  • Employment Prospects
    Competition for secretarial roles is very high and there are few job opportunities expected to open up in this field over the next five years.
Career FAQs makes every effort to ensure the information we provide is correct at the time of publication. We welcome your input to help keep our career profiles as accurate and up to date as possible. All queries and feedback will be taken into consideration as we conduct periodic reviews of our content. Add your voice to the conversation!


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