Secretaries and administrative assistants perform routine clerical and administrative duties. They organize files, draft messages, schedule appointments, and support other staff.
Secretaries and administrative assistants typically do the following:
- Answer telephones and take messages or transfer calls
- Schedule appointments and update event calendars
- Arrange staff meetings
- Handle incoming and outgoing mail and faxes
- Draft routine memos, billing, or other reports
- Edit company correspondence and ensure document accuracy
- Maintain databases and filing systems, whether electronic or paper
- Perform basic bookkeeping
Secretaries and administrative assistants perform a variety of clerical and administrative duties that are necessary to run an organization efficiently. They use computer software to create spreadsheets, manage databases, and prepare presentations, reports, and documents. They also may negotiate with vendors, buy supplies, and manage stockrooms or corporate libraries. Secretaries and administrative assistants also operate videoconferencing, fax, and other office equipment. Specific job duties vary by experience, job title, and specialty.
The following are examples of types of secretaries and administrative assistants:
Executive secretaries and executive administrative assistants provide high-level administrative support for an office and for top executives of an organization. They often handle more complex responsibilities, such as reviewing incoming documents, conducting research, and preparing reports. Some also supervise clerical staff.
Legal secretaries perform work requiring knowledge of legal terminology and procedures. They prepare messages and legal papers, such as summonses, complaints, motions, and subpoenas under the supervision of an attorney or a paralegal. They also review legal journals and help with legal research—for example, by verifying quotes and citations in legal briefs.
Medical secretaries transcribe dictation and prepare reports or articles for physicians or medical scientists. They also take simple medical histories of patients, arrange for patients to be hospitalized, or process insurance payments. Medical secretaries need to be familiar with medical terminology, medical records, and hospital or laboratory procedures.
Secretaries and administrative assistants, except legal, medical, and executive is the largest subcategory of secretaries and administrative assistants. They handle an office’s administrative activities in almost every sector of the economy, including schools, government, and private corporations. For example, secretaries in schools are often responsible for handling most of the communications among parents, students, the community, teachers, and school administrators. They schedule appointments, receive visitors, and keep track of students’ records.
Virtual assistants work from a home office, providing support to one or more clients on a contract basis. They use the Internet, email, and fax machines to communicate with clients. Although their assignments often vary from short term to long term, their typical duties are similar to those of other secretaries and administrative assistants. Working from a remote location allows virtual assistants to support multiple clients in different industries.