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find out how to become
a Secretary

Secretarial skills can prepare you for many careers

Whether you’ve always wanted to be a secretary or would like to use this position as a steppingstone to a more senior office job, this guide will tell you everything you need to know about how to become a secretary.

Find out what qualifications you need, how much experience you should have, and what personality traits are suited to the role. You’ll also discover whether you have what it takes to become a secretary or administrative assistant below.

It’s worth knowing that the role of a secretary is a varied one. Typical tasks include organising files, scheduling appointments and supporting key members of the organisation. That being said, you should remember that no two office environments are the same. The specific tasks you carry out will vary from company to company.

If you decide to apply for a secretarial position, you'll want to check out our top interview questions and CV example to help you succeed.

What qualifications do you need to become a secretary?

The qualifications you need will be dependent on what type of secretarial position you are looking to find. For example, to become a secretary for a standard office, you will most likely need at least a GCSE in English at grade C or higher. We also advise taking a course in either word processing or office procedures to improve your skills.

It’s important to be computer literate with a good working knowledge of Microsoft Office programs. Almost all positions require you to use tools like Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and similar programs.

Becoming a medical or legal secretary may require extra training. You’ll need to be able to confidently use and recognise industry-specific terminology. These are sometimes provided on the job by the employer, or they may expect you to have this training before you apply. If you’re unsure, read the job description and requirements carefully.

Executive secretary jobs may require a bachelor’s degree. They may also require several years’ experience as a secretary, administrative assistant or similar. These are all important to think about if you get invited to an interview. So make sure you prepare for the most common secretary interview questions.

 

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How much experience do you need to become a secretary?

You don’t need to have any experience to become an entry-level secretary. That’s because most companies will provide on-the-job training. However, prior experience is more favoured. Training is likely to last a few weeks for a standard secretarial role. But it could take several months for a more specialised position.

To become an executive secretary, you will need to have several years of experience as a secretary or an administrative assistant. If you have experience in the industry of the job you’re applying for, you’re much more likely to be successful in your application.

Experience is also useful as you’ll have knowledge of the tasks expected of you and systems to help you do them. And although different companies use different technologies, the systems in place usually bear some resemblance to each other.

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Key characteristics & skills you'll need

There are some important characteristics every secretary must have. These will improve your chances of being accepted into a job. The main ones include:

  • Integrity. You will often be dealing with classified and/or sensitive information. Therefore, you need to be able to act with integrity. This is particularly true if you are looking for work as either a legal or medical secretary because you’ll be working with peoples’ personal details.

  • Strong people skills. You will interact with customers, clients and other members of staff on a daily basis. This means you must be able to communicate effectively and professionally. Miscommunication in a secretarial position can lead to administrative issues causing delays and other problems.

  • Organisation. You will look after and organise files, folders and lots of important information. You will need to have outstanding organisational skills if you want to succeed.

  • Writing skills. A large part of your day may be taken up with written communication like drafting emails, writing memos and composing letters. So you need to have excellent grammar and spelling, as well as the ability to sound knowledgeable and professional.

Average salary of a secretary?

The average pay for an office secretary in the UK is £21,848 per year. This is based on a full-time position of 40 hours per week. Of course, your salary will depend on the company you choose and your skills and experience. The location of your employer can also be a factor, as London-based companies may pay more.

If you are looking to become a legal or medical secretary, your starting salary may be a bit higher. The average salary for a legal secretary is £25,217 and the average salary for a medical secretary is £22,239.

The next step is preparing the perfect CV for a secretary to help stand out when you apply for the perfect job, it’s the key to either being invited to an interview or not.

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See what secretarial and admin jobs we are currently recruiting for


Working as a secretary can be very rewarding. The wide variety of tasks involved means it never gets boring.
There’s a huge range of jobs in the secretarial sector. See what jobs are currently on offer:

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