Secretary

personal assistant office assistant
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Administration, business and management
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Career outlook for secretary

UK Salary Ranges

Entry-level

£17,000

Experienced

£35,000


Currently employed in Scotland

9,100

Salary information is provided by the "National Careers Service". "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures. Due to COVID-19 the jobs market is constantly changing. Some of the information may not reflect the current situation.

What's it like?

You would provide office support to keep all kinds of organisations running smoothly.

You’d have to enjoy a varied day and be good at doing several different things at once.

Your duties would depend on your employer. In general, you would:

  • type up documents
  • update computer databases and spreadsheets
  • answer the telephone and handle enquiries
  • make appointments and keep diaries up to date
  • make travel arrangements
  • take minutes at meetings, possibly using shorthand
  • deal with incoming and outgoing post
  • draft letters and other documents
  • photocopy and print documents
  • handle filing
  • look after visitors 
  • look after office systems 

With time, you could take on new responsibilities. You could handle accounts, manage the office or work as a personal secretary for a manager.

Some managers that you work for may give you a high level of responsibility, so in some jobs you may have to:

  • stand in for the manager in their absence
  • manage other administrative staff
  • deal with accounts and budgets
  • take on project work, such as research

You would need to be comfortable communicating with a wide range of people, both in speech and through writing. Strong typing skills and great grammar and spelling would be very important.

Working conditions

Hours

In a full-time job you would usually work, 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. In some offices flexitime working may be possible. Part-time hours, job share and temporary work could also be available.

Environment

You would normally work in an office. A lot of your work would be done using a computer.

UK employment status

Full-time

57%

Part-time

39%

Self employed

4%

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Here are some of the skills needed for this job. Sign in to see how your skills match up.

  • Cooperating
  • Verbal communication
  • Written communication
  • Observation
  • Attention to detail
  • Sorting
  • Developing a plan
  • Time management
  • Reliable

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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you'll need.

Foundation Apprenticeships

Choosing a Foundation Apprenticeship as one of your subjects in S5 and S6 can help you get a head start with this type of job.

You'll get an SCQF level 6 qualification (the same level as a Higher) plus valuable work placement experience and skills you can't learn in a classroom.

Interested? Find out what's on offer at your school on Apprenticeships.scot.

Qualifications

There are no set entry requirements for this role, however many employers value a good general education. For example, qualifications at SCQF level 4/5, a Higher National Certificate (SCQF level 7) or Higher National Diploma (SCQF level 8) in administration or business.

You could complete a Modern Apprenticeship in Business and Administration.

Relevant work-based qualifications such as a Scottish Vocational Qualification in Business Administration (SVQ level 2/3/4) are also welcome. A Scottish Vocational Qualification normally requires three subjects at National 4 or 5 including English and Maths as a minimum.

You can enter a National Qualification or National Certificate course with no formal qualifications though many courses ask for three to four subjects at National 4 or 5.

Entry requirements for a Higher National Certificate or Higher National Diploma are one to two Highers plus some subjects at National 4 or 5.

Useful subjects

  • English (required by most course and employers)
  • Maths
  • Business
  • Administration subjects
  • ICT subjects

Helpful to have

You could benefit from having qualifications that show your organisational, teamworking and ICT skills. Any qualifications that involve work-based experience such as Skills for Work courses could also give you an advantage.

You can work your way up from an administrative job, gaining qualifications while you work. You could earn a Scottish Vocational Qualification in business and administration (SVQ level 2/3) or another relevant subject. 

Ability in a foreign language can be useful for some roles.