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Career Advice on How to Become an Executive Secretary or Administrative Assistant

General Career Information

The secretary may often be looked at as the all-purpose office grunt, but the reality of the situation is that the secretary often holds a great deal of information at her or his fingertips. The secretary does know where the bodies are buried, often quite literally. Not only does the humble secretary often know where the bodies are buried, but she knows who put them there, how, at what time, and she knows where the backup copies of the execution orders are kept. 
 
Secretaries and administrative assistants have a tremendous amount of information come across their desks in a given day, and often this occurs without anyone even realizing it. So, if you are the devious type, you might want to add secretary or administrative assistant to your job search and career planning agenda.
 

Career Facts:

Secretaries and administrative assistants help keep the wheels from flying off the preverbal cart. Its one thing for corporate executives to make big plans and sweeping decrees, and quite another to carry those order out. Secretaries and administrative assistants help carry out those marching orders. They achieve this, in part, by keeping the infrastructure of a business alive and well. 
 
They move information around companies and between employees, make sure that office equipment is up and running, answer calls, take messages, arrange meetings with clients, send out emails, snoop on the enemies of the boss, help the boss dodge his wife, order supplies and occasionally procure prostitutes for important business clients. If only the last one was a joke, what a beautiful world it would be. 
 

The bottom line is that the secretary and administrative assistant is counted on and relied upon to execute a wide variety of tasks. Often these employees are not truly valued by a company until they leave and everyone asks, “where is X,Y or Z?” And no one knows.

 

Career Opportunities and Job Outlook-Fair:

Some secretaries and administrative assistants might “graduate” to become executive secretaries, where they work for top-level executives. They perform most of the tasks that they once performed as secretaries, but now there is more money involved, larger egos, more prostitutes, and they know where even more bodies are buried.
 
The number of secretaries and administrative assistants in the United States is really kind of scary. In 2006, there were about 4.2 million secretaries and administrative assistants quietly storing up dirt and millions of unsuspecting, cocky upper and middle management MBA types. This number is expected to jump to 4.6 million by 2016. Clearly they are up to something.
 
Job Outlook is Fair  
 

A Day in The Life:

This career will vary greatly depending on the company and the work environment. The secretary at a four person auto repair shop will have a vastly different experience from the executive secretary helping a top level executive steal millions of dollars from investors (hypothetically, of course). But there are some core elements that will remain the same, namely organization. The secretary and administrative assistant are largely tapped to make sure that the “gears of the machine” run smoothly.
 
Larger companies will have dozens, if not hundreds, of secretaries and administrative assistants all working to make sure that information flows and is organized, that meetings take place as scheduled, that phone calls are returned promptly, and that no one else finds out where the bodies are buried. The secretary or administrative assistant may find that they are heavily counted on, underpaid and more than likely, overlooked.
 

Average Salary:

So what does a keeper of company secrets make these days anyway? The average secretary can expect to earn about $27,500. The top ten-percent can expect to see around $41,500.

$27k - $40k

 

Career Training and Qualifications:

Often a high-school diploma is all that is required for being the glue that holds an office together. Usually, a great deal of on the job training occurs as well. It is not uncommon for executive secretaries to hold college degrees.
 
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