A secretary is a person who works in an office or other professional setting; he or she will perform mostly clerical duties, such as filing, managing phones, organizing correspondence, acting as a proofreader and typist, and various other tasks that relate specifically to a particular office. Secretary work usually does not require a high level of education, though most employers will require the secretary to have at least a high school education, as a significant amount of secretary work will require basic to moderate communication skills, math skills, and an ability to perform many tasks at once.
Several types of secretary work exist, and such work will generally vary according to the secretary's experience, work setting, and qualifications. A lower level secretary, for example, may only be responsible for basic tasks such as answering phone calls and routing those phone calls to the appropriate recipients, performing basic filing duties, and interacting with customers or visitors to the office. An executive secretary, however, may have a more active role in planning, scheduling, decision-making, and organizing within the office. In this case, the secretary work is performed by a more experienced secretarial professional who may have more training or formal education.
In some cases, secretary work may involve managing others within the office. The secretary is often responsible for ensuring the smooth and efficient daily operation of an office, which means he or she will need to address problems as they arise, manage complex tasks, interact with other employees, and in some cases delegate duties and responsibilities to others. The specific functions of a particular secretary can vary depending on the size of the office and the particular needs of that office. Some employers may also require the secretary to develop specific knowledge of the industry or field in which the business operates; this ensures the secretary will understand terminology and processes, thereby allowing him or her to make decisions based on this information.
Interacting with customers or clients is often a major duty of a secretary. This may mean talking to clients and customers on the phone, sending out letters or e-mails, or even interacting with people face to face. The secretary must be presentable, coherent, friendly, and organized in order to perform such tasks, and he or she may also be required to direct clients and customers around the office. In most cases, the secretary is the first person a client or customer will interact with when visiting a business, so the secretary must be prepared to meet these people and give them relevant information quickly and efficiently.