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Few job titles are as vague as that of a secretary.   Depending on the industry, experience and even educational level, a secretary’s job is never exactly like one he or she has had in the past.  Let’s take a look at how secretarial work has evolved over the years and industries.

One definitive common denominator, says A. Harrison Barnes, founder and career coach, is that a secretary or administrative assistant is usually the one person in the company that has the proverbial bases covered.  Her BlackBerry is always at the ready for a quick phone number and her calendar is set up brilliantly, making everyone else in the company envy the super organizational skills she possesses.

Legal Secretaries – A legal assistant or legal secretary, as you might expect, works in a legal setting, usually a law firm.  He might also fall into the role as a judicial clerk, too, says the founder.  Legal secretaries will often do searches for an upcoming case, schedule appointments, clear calendars for court dates and keep the other lawyers and paralegals current on who’s going to be where and when.  He must posses impeccable filing skills, especially since the information that’s usually inclusive is sensitive in nature.

A Personal Assistant will generally work for one person and it’s not always in a traditional office setting.  Personal secretaries help their bosses remember important dates, such as wedding anniversaries and birthdays.  She might also fill the role as a personal shopper.  Many personal secretaries work out of their employer’s home.  An author or chef might hire a personal secretary since much of the time, they too work out of their homes.  Travel is sometimes required from a personal assistant, says Barnes.

Medical Secretary – Medical assistants, like their legal counterparts, work with incredibly sensitive information.  They must adhere to the compliance laws regarding patient confidentiality.  They must be accurate, precise and organized since the health of the patients is at stake.  Medical secretaries can usually incorporate medical codes and read the physicians’ handwriting (much like an attorney, doctors often have difficult to understand penmanship).  They work in a medical setting such as a hospital or physician’s office.

Business Assistants – These assistants work in a traditional office setting.  They maintain the employer’s calendar, call meetings, schedule flights and maintain expense reports.  They might also be tasked with collecting timely information from each department for inclusion in a company spreadsheet.  Their tasks will vary greatly from one employer to another and in fact, many business secretaries know well how their responsibilities can vary from one industry to another.

All of these roles play an integral part of a company’s success. Without the secretary who takes pride in her work, the whole company suffers.  Their skills are many, says A. Harrison Barnes.  They type, coordinate, schedule, order, play go-between and ensure everyone is where they’re supposed to be on time.

The demand for secretaries will continue to grow – just as their job descriptions will continue to branch out.

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