Secretary: Job Profile and Role

Answering the phone and emails, making business and travel arrangements, and dealing with administrative tasks are all things that secretaries in the UK do daily or regularly. They are veritable Jacks and Janes of all trades who need outstanding interpersonal, communication, and multitasking skills.

Do you find yourself in this skills description? And have you always wanted to work in this profession? In this case, the following blog will help you decide whether the job of a secretary is the right fit for you. You will find out what further skills and qualifications you need to become a secretary, where to find employment and what annual salaries to expect. You will also get a first idea about a typical working day and tips for thriving in this job.

Short Summary

  • As a secretary, you can be tasked with performing a multitude of administrative tasks, such as bookkeeping.
  • As a secretary, you are in charge of all company communication, starting with answering the phone and checking and replying to emails.
  • As a secretary, you can be responsible for planning events and making travel arrangements for your boss and other senior personnel in your company.

Job description

One thing is for sure: your working day as a secretary will be anything but dull and boring. Multiple and sometimes challenging jobs await you, ranging from admin tasks to making travel arrangements, planning events, and sitting in on interesting and exciting meetings. Therefore, you should always invest time in your personal and professional development which can be a part of your job description. Naturally, you are also responsible for all communication, making strong verbal and written communication skills vital competencies you should have.


  • Managing Correspondence
  • Administrative Support
  • Meeting Coordination
  • Travel Arrangements
  • Record-Keeping
  • Communication
  • Event Planning
  • Confidentiality
  • Scheduling
  • Research

Different types of Secretaries

  • Legal Secretary
  • Virtual Secretary
  • Executive Secretary
  • Personal Assistant/PA
  • Departmental Secretary


In your full-time secretary job, you can expect an annual starting salary of £23,000. This can increase to £35,000 with work experience and a brilliant job performance. Note that your annual wages are further influenced by the following: your employer and the location. Currently, you can expect some of the highest secretary salaries per year in the Greater London Area where you can earn up to £34,800. You should also check with your future employer whether monetary bonuses are part of your salary package since these can increase your annual wages further.

Working hours

Your working hours as a full-time secretary can range from 37 to 39 hours per week. Generally, you work a classic 9 to 5 job, Monday through Friday. You may also have to work in the evenings and at the weekends which mainly depends on events that need planning and potential project deadlines where you are asked to assist. Even though you are theoretically only in charge of travel arrangements, you may also be asked to travel as part of your job. 

Also, note that your weekly working hours may differ considerably when working in virtual assistance. Here, your work schedule depends on your number of clients and the time zones they live in. You may do most of your work early in the morning or late at night.


There is a whole bouquet of potential employers where you can apply for your first secretarial job. We recommend that you check your future employer and you are on the same page when it comes to interests, values, and moral codes. This makes your job search more precise and minimises the risk of future discord. If you know which employer could be the right fit for you, you can start your job search in the following sectors: the financial sector, medical sector, legal sector, schools and universities, non-profit organisations, corporate businesses, and government agencies.


Regardless of your approach to becoming a secretary, your first qualifications are your GCSEs. The pass grades may vary, depending on whether you want to do a college course, an apprenticeship, work towards this job or apply directly for a post. Keep in mind that you may need GCSEs at pass grades 9 to 3 (A* to D) or 9 to 4 (A* to C). Besides your educational qualifications, you should be proficient in job-relevant software, such as SharePoint (document management software), Microsoft Outlook Calendar, Microsoft Office Suite, Slack, QuickBooks, and Sage.

The job as a secretary could be suitable for you if you have one or more of the following qualifications:


We have already “spoilered” the skills section by giving you three valuable skills in our introduction. But do not worry – there are plenty more competencies that will benefit you in your future career (even though you always need to check the job posts for the exact skills requirements!). Let’s take a look at three more skills you should have if you want to succeed and thrive in your secretary job.

Is the secretary job a good fit for you? Typically, a secretary should have or develop the following skills:

Administrative Skills

You will perform administrative tasks as a secretary – be it making travel arrangements, filing invoices and receipts, or maybe even assisting with HR and payrolling. These tasks require strong administrative skills. They will also help you to stay on top of your daily workload and may even help you with efficient time management.

Organisational Skills

In your job, you will have days where you seem to be asked to do everything at once. Strong multitasking skills are needed but should be accompanied by equally strong organisational skills. They enable you to prioritise your daily tasks and ensure that you will get everything done on time.

IT Skills

Our qualifications section has already listed some IT-related software you will be using daily in your job. Therefore, you should have at least basic IT skills if you want to apply for a secretarial position or educational approach. You can improve these competencies through your work and you can also look into sensible training to advance your IT and software knowledge.

Career Path

Your secretary career starts with your first job which offers you all the knowledge you need to progress to more senior roles with further responsibilities. You can advance to the job of a personal assistant/PA just as well as to the position of an office manager. Equally, you can look into training future secretaries in which case you may need further training that qualifies you for teaching.

Educational Background

As mentioned, you can choose between four approaches to becoming a secretary in the UK. If you decide on doing a college course or an apprenticeship, you have the following options: doing a Level 2 or 3 Diploma in Business Administration, a Level 2 Award in Touch Typing, a Level 2 Certificate in IT User Skills, or a T Level in Management and Administration. 

You can also do a business administrator advanced apprenticeship which typically takes 18 months to complete and where you learn both the theoretical and practical side of your future job. Depending on your interests, you can also look into Level 2/3 Apprenticeships or Legal and Medical Apprenticeships.

Entry Level

Among the typical secretarial positions, you may start with as your first job are the job of an administrative assistant, an office assistant, a junior secretary, or a trainee secretary. Usually, you spend about a year working in an entry-level position after which you can discuss possible promotions with both your senior secretary and your company’s bosses.

Continuous Learning

Staying updated and in the know about work-related software is one part of your continuous learning as a secretary. Here, you can look into the following: Xero Advisor Certification or QuickBooks Online Certification for bookkeeping or the appropriate Microsoft certifications, such as Microsoft Office Specialist: Word Expert and Excel Expert Certification and Microsoft 365 Certified: Modern Desktop Administrator Associate. Even though an academic background is not required to work as a secretary, you can still look into doing an undergraduate degree, for instance, a Bachelor’s in business administration. 

Institutions that offer further Secretarial Training

You can look into further secretarial training with several UK institutions, for example, the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (ICSA) and the Institute of Administrative Management (IAM). You can also look into university courses focusing on secretarial studies, such as the University of Aberdeen and the ARU London.

A Day in the Life of a Secretary

A secretary’s working day can include various tasks, some of which cover all communication. Besides this, there are further daily tasks you need to perform, three of which we will look at in this section.

Meeting Support

To this day, secretaries are asked to assist in meetings and take minutes. This is one of the jobs that may await you in your working day. Making notes on the key things discussed in the meetings needs to be followed up by transcribing them, after which you are responsible for distributing them to your bosses and everyone else who needs to be in the know.

Coordination and Prioritisation

Coordination and prioritisation are further jobs you perform daily or regularly. It is highly unlikely that you need to plan events, book hotels, flights, and other travel- and event-related things daily – but they will be a regular part of your job description. Prioritisation, on the other hand, is a daily responsibility. You need to ensure that the most important tasks are completed first before less pressing matters are addressed.


Towards the end of the day, you need to brief your boss on the most important aspects and developments of the day. This can include giving him or her a summary of all meetings, the arrangements you have made and the correspondence you have been in charge of. Here, you can also discuss upcoming events and arrangements as well as the next day’s tasks.

Tips for Thriving as a Secretary

Regardless of your job, you always need to look for ways to improve. These help you thrive in both your current position and for future promotions. For your job as a secretary, you can look into job-related training and certifications which are by no means the only ways to thrive in this profession. What other things you will benefit from is what we will explore in this section:

  • Diary management
  • Stress management
  • Work-life balance

Diary Management

You will be juggling all sorts of appointments, arrangements, and schedules. Therefore, you need to be a diary management whizz to stay both on top and up-to-date with everything connected to these aspects. Having effective diary management will not only benefit you. It will also make your boss’s life easier and enable both of you to work time-efficiently.

Stress Management

Judging by the amount of different tasks you perform daily, we can certainly say that the job of a secretary involves quite a bit of stress. If you want to both succeed and thrive in your job, you should invest some time in your stress management. This can involve attending stress-management seminars as well as taking time out for personal quality and wellness time. This way, you can retain healthy stress levels (yes, they do exist) and avoid negative side effects like burnout.

Work-Life Balance

This also implies that you set up a healthy work-life balance. Being passionate about your job is all well and good – and to a certain extent, there is nothing wrong with being a bit of a workaholic. Nevertheless – there are more things to life than work and no play. You know how the saying goes. But it is not about being a dull boy or girl, it is about ensuring that you enjoy life outside work and spend time with yourself and your loved ones.

Other jobs that are similar and might also interest you:

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does a secretary earn?

When working full-time, you can expect a starting salary of around £23,000. With work experience and excellent job performance, your annual salary can increase to £35,000 per year. What you earn as a secretary also depends on your employer and the location. Currently, some of the highest annual salaries are being paid in the Greater London Area where you can earn up to £34,800. Another possible salary-influencing factor can be monetary bonuses. You should check with your future employer whether these are part of your salary package.

What qualifications do I need to become a secretary?

Pass grades at 9 to 3 (A* to D) and 9 to 4 (A* to C), respectively, are the qualifications you need to become a secretary in the UK. These qualify you for completing a Level 2 or 3 Diploma in Business Administration (college course) or a business administrator advanced apprenticeship. You can also work towards this job or apply directly. Also, you should be proficient with job-relevant software, such as SharePoint (document management software), Microsoft Office Suite, Microsoft Outlook Calendar, QuickBooks, Sage, and Slack.

What is the job of a secretary?

In your secretarial job, you will perform various interesting and sometimes challenging tasks. Be it admin, communication, taking minutes, making travel arrangements, or even event planning – the list of your daily tasks is both long and varied. Therefore, you should approach your job with both the necessary qualifications and competencies which you also should improve continuously. If you have all it takes to be a successful secretary, we can guarantee you a job that is anything but boring and dull.