More than 3.6 million secretaries are employed throughout the United States, making this profession one of the largest in the country. Of this total, 593,400 work as executive secretaries and administrative assistants, 171,800 specialize as legal secretaries, and 623,400 work as medical secretaries. Secretaries are employed in almost every type of industry—from health care, banking, financial services, and real estate to construction, manufacturing, transportation, communications, and retail and wholesale trade. A large number of secretaries are employed by federal, state, and local government agencies.
Most people looking for work as secretaries find jobs through Internet job boards, newspaper want ads, or by applying directly to local businesses. Both private employment offices and state employment services place secretaries, and business schools help their graduates find suitable jobs. Temporary-help agencies are often an excellent way to find jobs, some of which may turn into permanent ones.
Secretaries often begin by assisting executive secretaries and work their way up by learning the way their business operates. Initial promotions from a secretarial position are usually to jobs such as secretarial supervisor, office manager, or administrative assistant. Depending on other personal qualifications, college courses in business, accounting, or marketing can help the ambitious secretary enter middle and upper management. Training in computer skills can also lead to advancement. Secretaries who become proficient in word processing, for instance, can get jobs as instructors or as sales representatives for software manufacturers.
Secretaries may choose to advance by taking positions as medical or legal secretaries—occupations that typically pay higher salaries. Many legal secretaries, with additional training and schooling, become paralegals. Secretaries in the medical field can advance into the fields of radiological and surgical records or medical transcription.
Read OfficePro (https://www.iaap-hq.org/page/OfficeProMagazine) and The Executary (http://www.theaeap.com/newsletters) to learn more about careers in general secretarial work. The NALS docket (https://www.nals.org/blogpost/1359892/the-NALS-docket) is a blog for legal secretaries.
Talk to secretaries about their jobs. Ask them for advice on preparing for and entering the field.
Visit the following Web sites for job listings: