The key skills necessary when it comes to landing a secretarial position are arguably not complex, but mastery of them is essential if you want to go far. An entry level position may require you to be good with computers (expect to have your typing speed and knowledge of basic computer programs examined extensively at interview), as well as strong people skills – if you’re enthusiastic – smaller companies might allow you to train on the job. Getting certified, of course, is always going to give you a better chance of landing a position with more pay and more responsibility.
How far it’s worth you going in order to attain these skills depends entirely on your aims. It’s worth remembering that even those with a high level diploma in secretarial work are unlikely to be taken on by major firms without at least one to two years work experience, so combining work and study could be a sensible option for more than just financial reasons. If you’re looking to enter at the bottom, qualifications like the European Computer Driving License will get your foot in the door, as will learning to type correctly. Picking up some skills in data entry and even languages can be a big help, too.
Of course, the best way to really get yourself noticed is to pick an industry and specialise. There’s barely an industry that doesn’t have some requirement for secretaries, and with a little effort you could find yourself anywhere from manning the desk in a local office to working in a top multinational firm, writing letters to investors about the transfer of millions of Euro. The key specialisations, which are key to increased salaries, revolve around the most specific and demanding of professions.
Legal secretarial work is competitive, but the staff are in demand and paid substantially more than standard positions. You will need to learn all about confidentiality in particular, and later specialisations in subjects such as criminal law, litigation, family law, civil law, probate, business law and intellectual property is almost as desired as the lawyers themselves. Secretaries in these areas can go on to become legal executives, as well as earning substantial salaries in their own rights at major law firms.
There’s not as much financial reward in medical secretarial work, though it is arguably more satisfying in other ways. Medical secretaries skills are extremely specialist, and aimed at helping doctors to perform their jobs. You’ll be dealing with some difficult situations (is there ever a time when people are more emotional?), and can also be involved in things like the completion of insurance forms. You’ll need to have a good grasp of what’s going on around you, which in this particular work place is easier said than done. Many medical secretaries are highly skilled, specifically trained and eager to give something back. Unless you’ve undertaken an extensive course, this is certainly not an entry-level position, nor a specialty to be taken lightly.
The range of options, salaries and required qualifications for different secretarial positions is enormous, and while you’re never going to out-earn the CEO, you might become an essential part of his team, privy to the companies most important deals and paid appropriately. In other words, it can be a career direction well worth considering.