What does an Administrative Secretary do?

Elizabeth West

A high-ranked administrative secretary is usually assigned to an executive or department, and may be in charge of lower-tier workers like receptionists or a part-time assistants. This position is usually a direct report of the department or individual. An administrative secretary will need to be computer literate, have organizational and people skills, and be able to handle meeting duties, research, and travel arrangements. The position usually commands higher pay, especially if the work is specialized.

A high ranking administrative secretary is usually assigned to an executive.
A high ranking administrative secretary is usually assigned to an executive.

Assistants may perform general tasks such as answering the company’s telephone, correspondence, filing, and mail handling, but the administrative secretary is usually responsible for only the department or executive supported. Some departments that utilize specialized assistants include human resources, accounting, and legal. The secretary may act as a liaison between the department or executive and the rest of the office, and may also deal directly with clients.

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.

Requirements for an administrative secretary position include the ability to use all office technology, such as computers with various software and sometimes a dictation device. Many companies today seek degree-holding applicants, but prior experience may be considered instead unless the work is highly specialized. Legal secretaries, for example, will need specific training to work with court documents. Medical secretaries must know billing and coding along with medical terminology.

Administrative secretaries will often be asked to set up meetings and conference calls between the boss, other executives, and clients, and plan events for the office or visitors. Skill in finding information online and maintaining contacts with vendors is helpful, as is experience in making travel arrangements. In human resources and accounting, the ability to maintain confidentiality is important when dealing with private employee records and financial information.

The holder of this position may be asked to assist with training and supervising lower-level employees. With companies increasingly combining responsibilities, an administrative secretary can gain management experience in timekeeping, scheduling, and delegating. This will aid in moving forward within a company into a position in office administration or management. Candidates for an office administrator job will need excellent people skills as well as knowledge of company policies and disciplinary measures.

For those seeking a career as an administrative secretary, business courses at a community college or university can provide instruction in computer programs, math, record keeping, and communications. Professional certification is available for general assistants and those wishing to enter the legal and medical fields. In many cases, a degree or certificate can command a higher salary. Programs in accounting and human resources will benefit job seekers who are interested in those areas of administrative work.

Administrative secretaries might type up items for a supervisor.
Administrative secretaries might type up items for a supervisor.

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Discussion Comments


Those who want to work in a very specific industry, like hospitals or legal offices, should seriously consider getting a certificate in that field. All community colleges now offer courses and certificates as legal secretaries, medical secretaries, etc. It can make a huge difference for someone that's just getting into this field


@candyquilt-- That's definitely important. Something else that's very important is multi-tasking. An office is a busy environment and if an administrative secretary is in charge of many duties and even some employees, things can get very hectic very quickly.

I'm an administrative secretary and there are times when I need to literally do three different things at once. I might me answering phones, typing up a summary of a staff meeting and setting up catering for an event all at once. Meeting deadlines is very important and sometimes there are multiple things that have to be done as soon as possible. People ask me how I manage, I don't know, I just do. It certainly helps that I love my job and enjoy what I do.


People skills is very important to be an administrative secretary. The secretary will probably greeting visitors and clients at the office, as well as answering phone calls and attending meetings. Since an administrative secretary is usually the closes to an executive, many clients will also want to interact with him and her to set up meetings with the executive, etc.

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