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How Do I Become a Secretary?

Becoming a secretary involves acquiring administrative skills, often through a combination of education and on-the-job training. You'll need strong communication, organization, and computer skills. Consider taking courses in business or office management. What specific sector are you interested in working as a secretary?
Tiffany Manley
Tiffany Manley

Secretaries work in a variety of industries and are tasked with running an office. A secretary might answer phones, file paperwork, send and receive mail and greet customers. To become a secretary, you might take courses in basic office skills, obtain your high school diploma or the equivalent of one, attend college or secretarial certification courses, research the secretarial positions that interest you and apply to secretary jobs that interest you. Different companies might have their own specific requirements to become a secretary, so it is best to review position descriptions for any jobs in which you might be interested.

Many high schools, community colleges and vocational schools offer basic office skills courses to people who are interested in becoming a secretary or working in another related office profession. These courses might cover topics such as typing, proper phone etiquette, office management skills and other office skills. Basic office skills courses generally provide a good foundation for you if you would like to become a secretary.

Office secretaries perform basic administrative duties.
Office secretaries perform basic administrative duties.

Although a college degree or special certification is not necessary to become a secretary, you will likely need a high school diploma or an equivalent certification. Some employers might want you to have some sort of degree or certification from a college or vocational school. Many schools offer short secretarial programs that offer certification after you have completed them. You might also decide to purse a degree in business to get a good foundation in office practices and other related information.

A medical secretary would need to have a thorough understanding of medical terminology.
A medical secretary would need to have a thorough understanding of medical terminology.

Researching positions that interest you is another way to become a secretary. There are a variety of secretarial jobs, and knowing what each position involves and the skills needed to thrive in those positions is important. By researching these positions, you might find out exactly what types of secretarial positions you enjoy and pursue those. In addition, you likely will find out what types of positions are available in your area, what they pay and other relevant information. This might help you further determine where you would like to work and whether you would like to work as a specialized secretary.

No matter the amount of experience or education you possess, having experience usually is very beneficial when applying for a job. Even if you are attending college, you still might have the opportunity to apply for secretarial jobs that interest you. Not only does applying for jobs help you find one you enjoy, it also helps you build your résumé and make it better, network with other people, practice your interviewing skills and learn what employers are looking for in a secretary.

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Discussion Comments


@bear78-- You know what, I think experience far outweighs education in this position. If you want to be a secretary, make sure you have the experience and the skills. Be friendly, learn how to use the computer properly. Make sure you can write letters, prepare summaries, schedules and do simple budgeting work. Make sure you know how to answer phones, take messages and greet guests. If you have these skills and if you have experience, most employers won't care too much about certification.

Also, if you have friends, relatives or acquaintances working at companies where there may be secretarial vacancies, make sure to apply for those. Ask your acquaintances to recommend your name or ask them to submit your resume to their boss for you.


@bear78-- Unfortunately, I don't have an exact answer for you because I think it depends on the employer and what they expect. There may be employers who don't require a certification or a great deal of experience. Others may absolutely want certification as well as a good deal of experience. So you might have to complete a certification program or work or volunteer longer in an office environment so that you have those qualifications.


I'm a high school graduate and I have done an internship where I basically carried out administrative tasks at an office. Can I work as a secretary with this education and experience level? Is it necessary for me to complete a certification program?

Has anyone here gotten a job as a secretary with this education and experience level?

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    • Office secretaries perform basic administrative duties.
      By: michaeljung
      Office secretaries perform basic administrative duties.
    • A medical secretary would need to have a thorough understanding of medical terminology.
      By: diego cervo
      A medical secretary would need to have a thorough understanding of medical terminology.