Secretaries provide administrative support to office staff. Executive secretaries provide a higher-level of administrative support to one or several top executives in an organization, and may supervise the office's clerical staff. They assist top executives by scheduling meetings, making travel arrangements, producing documents and typing correspondence. They often maintain confidential files for executives and create reports. Certain education, experience and skills help executive secretaries excel in the role.
A high school diploma or GED is the minimum requirement for secretaries of all types. Some employers may require postsecondary training or an associate’s degree for the higher-level role of executive secretaries. Vocational schools and community colleges offer coursework related to office administration. In specialized industries, such as the legal and medical fields, employers often require specific training or experience.
Executive secretaries must have strong writing, typing and computer skills for the carry out the high-level responsibilities of the job. Executive secretaries often write and type correspondence for top executives, and use computers to create reports and maintain files. Because executive secretaries maintain a variety of files and perform multiple tasks simultaneously, they must be organized and detail-oriented. Excellent interpersonal skills are required, because these professionals work with many employees within an organization and represent top executives. The ability to keep information confidential is critical in this role, because executive secretaries often deal with sensitive information that only top executives have access to.
Generally, an executive secretary advances to the role by first gaining professional experience in administrative positions. Strong performance as a general secretary or administrative assistant may lead to advancement opportunities in a company. An administrative assistant typically must apply for an internal job opening as an executive secretary and interview with top executives as part of the process. Companies may prefer to hire internal candidates for executive secretary positions because of their familiarity with the company and its mission.
Careers and Salary
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a growth rate of 13 percent for executive secretaries and executive administrative assistants between 2010 and 2020. This rate is similar to the average of 14 percent projected for all occupations. In 2011, the average salary was $48,120 per year for executive secretaries and executive administrative assistants, according to the BLS.
2016 Salary Information for Secretaries and Administrative Assistants
Secretaries and administrative assistants earned a median annual salary of $38,730 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, secretaries and administrative assistants earned a 25th percentile salary of $30,500, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $48,680, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 3,990,400 people were employed in the U.S. as secretaries and administrative assistants.