A secretary provides clerical and administrative support to professionals as part of a team or alone. You will coordinate and carry out office activities, as well as specialised projects and tasks. In addition, you may be asked to manage and supervise the work of junior staff in specific instances.
The job varies significantly according to the industry, the organisation’s size, and the responsibility level. However, the bulk of your work requires written and verbal communication, word processing, and typing, as well as necessary skills such as IT, organisational, and presentation skills, as well as the ability to multitask and perform efficiently under pressure. In addition, specialised knowledge or qualifications may be required in other cases, such as legal secretarial work.
Throughout your apprenticeship, you may help:
- be the first point of contact for visitors, phone calls and emails
- arrange meetings and take minutes
- manage an individual or team diary and make travel arrangements
- produce letters, reports, spreadsheets and invoices
- update records on IT systems
- photocopy, print and file documents
- handle confidential information.
Salaries vary across sectors and locations.
- Expect an apprentice salary in the region of £18,000 for roles outside London and £17,000 for jobs in the capital.
- With experience and increased responsibilities, salaries can rise to £20,000, and sometimes up to £40,000.
A working week typically ranges between 37 to 39 hours, with the working day usually taking place between 8am and 6pm.
Qualifications you can achieve as an apprentice secretary include:
Level 3 Business Administrator – Entry requirements for this level include 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship.
This typically takes 18 months to complete as a mix of workplace learning and off-the-job study.
On a secretary apprenticeship, you’ll learn:
- administration skills
- to be thorough and pay attention to detail
- the ability to work well with others
- excellent written communication skills
- the ability to work on your own
- to be flexible and open to change
- excellent verbal communication skills
- the ability to organise your time and workload
- to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently.
As secretarial work is so diverse, employment can be found in virtually all sectors, including:
- academic institutions, including schools, colleges and universities
- creative industries, such as advertising or publishing
- hospitals and general medical practices
- legal and financial services
- management and strategic consulting
- marketing and communications
- private companies
- public organisations, including local authorities and charities
- retail and leisure companies.
First, training involves understanding business policies, procedures, and systems. Then, once you’re in your job, your firm may allow you to study for more certifications, or you may choose to seek them on your own to boost your chances of development.
Additional certifications may be necessary for admittance into more specialised industries, such as legal or medical secretarial work. The IT skills needed for your specific job may vary, but you may wish to learn Microsoft PowerPoint, Excel, Access, statistical software, web publishing, and design.
There are several strategies to develop your career. For example, you may specialise in a specific sector, such as legal or medical secretarial work, or you could work as a personal assistant to a corporate director or other top management. If you are fluent in another language, choose a more specialised role, such as bilingual secretary. Your organisational skills might also be used as an office manager or team secretary, managing colleagues’ work in a department or organisation.
You may also further your career by becoming a certified ICSA secretary. You can rise to roles such as company secretary, chief executive, or director of legal services after being chartered and accumulating sufficient experience.
Alternatively, you may choose to learn new skills for certain activities. You may, for example, use your shorthand skills to work as a verbatim reporter, attending court proceedings and transcribing the outcome.