No formal qualifications are essential for secretarial jobs, but to excel in the role you must be very organised, have excellent typing skills (shorthand can be very useful too), and also have a polite, pleasant personality so you can get on with a wide range of people at every level of the organisation. Many employers will look for an A level/Higher English, but in general it’s what are called ‘good communication skills’ that matter – i.e. being literate, not prone to spelling/grammatical mistakes, fluent in your use of English and able to use modern computing software (principally Microsoft Word and possibly Excel).
If you do want formal qualifications, consider the following:
- Level 2 Certificate/Diploma in Skills for Office Professionals
- Level 2/3 (NVQ) Certificate in Business and Administration
- Level 4 Diploma in Business and Administration.
If you are working in a supervisory or office manager position, you can work towards a Level 4 qualification and you might also work towards advanced level courses in audio transcription, shorthand and word processing.
Hours are normally the standard 9-5, Monday to Friday, increasingly with flexi-time offered and also many opportunities exist for part-time and job-share hours.
As a guide, starting salaries for full-time work can be around £14,000 to £16,000 a year (more in London ) and this can rise to £20,000 a year. PA’s can easily earn up to £25,000 a year or sometimes a lot more.
In addition, there are specialist secretarial roles, such as Medical Secretaries, Legal Secretaries, School Secretaries and even Farm Secretaries. There is a lot of variety and challenge, far beyond that old stereotype! Here are some of the best paid Secretary jobs out there.
Hours: 37-40 per week
Starting salary: £18,000+ per year
Legal secretaries provide a high level of administrative support for lawyers and legal executives. They help with the day-to-day tasks involved in running a legal services or law firm.
If you are interested in the law and want to develop administrative skills in the legal sector, this job could be ideal for you.
You will need excellent written and spoken communication skills, and be able to work in a busy office working to deadlines.
To become a legal secretary you will need a good general education with skills in literacy and numeracy. You will also need word processing skills and some experience of office work.
Hours: 37 per week
Starting salary: £15,000+ per year
As a school secretary or administrator, it would be your job to provide administrative support in a school.
If you are organised and have good office skills, and would like to work in an educational environment, this job could be perfect for you.
In this job you would need good spoken and written communication skills. When working under pressure you would have to stay organised and prioritise your tasks.
To get into this job you would usually need previous experience of office work, especially the main computer software packages. You may need to pass a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check.
Hours: 37.5 per week
Starting salary: £16,271+ per year
Medical secretaries provide office support to hospital doctors by making appointments, dealing with patients’ queries and working closely with health professionals. They may also provide this support to GPs, health service managers and medical researchers. Medical secretaries can also be known as personal assistants.
If you want to work in a healthcare team and you have excellent organisational skills and typing skills, then you may enjoy this role.
To start as a medical secretary you will need some experience of working in an office. Employers will also expect you to have a typing qualification and a good standard of general education, including GCSEs.
Hours: 30-40 per week
Starting salary: £18,000+ per year
A bilingual secretary provides administration and office services to clients. They communicate using English and one or more foreign languages. If you would love to use your foreign language skills and are looking for an office role, this could be the ideal job for you.
You will need to have good organisational skills and the ability to carry out more than one task at a time. An eye for detail and good computer and keyboard skills are important.
To get into this job you would normally need to have at least an A level or equivalent in your second language unless it is your native tongue or you became fluent by living abroad. Employers may also expect you to have GCSEs or relevant office skills and experience.