Secretarial Courses

Are Secretaries Still Important?

This is a question that many people ask. When you think of the word ‘secretary’ you might find yourself thinking of a woman sitting behind a desk, wearing hornrimmed glasses, answering phones and typing emails. There was a time when this would have been an accurate picture, however, times change and so do jobs. 

The job of a secretary has changed a lot in recent years. More and more tasks and duties are being given to secretaries which is completely changing the nature of their jobs. Secretaries have so many responsibilities that they are essential to any business.

The fact that the job has changed so much over the years has also changed the kind of person that is best suited to a secretarial career. So what does it take to be a secretary in today’s world?

What are the Qualities and Skills Needed to be a Secretary?

This is a difficult question to answer. The list of ideal qualities will depend on who you ask, however, there are some common qualities that all secretaries need. These are:

  • Being Organised
  • Excellent Telephone Etiquette 
  • Typing Skills 
  • Excellent Language Skills
  • Problem Solving Skills
  • Time Management
  • Research Skills
  • Note and Minute Taking

Being Organised

As a secretary, you have to be exceptionally organised as you will need to be able to keep track of a lot of different things on a daily basis. You will need to do filing, administration tasks, arranging and scheduling meetings, and more. Forgetting to do something, misfiling, or misplacing something could have very drastic consequences. 

Excellent Telephone Etiquette 

Telephone etiquette is your manners and habits when you are on the phone. Things like making sure you give the other person time to speak, always sound friendly and welcoming, being respectful and speaking clearly are all part of telephone etiquette. Secretaries have to deal with a lot of telephonic communication, whether it is people calling the company, calling to set up meetings, dealing with suppliers and clients, or even just talking to another department. 

Poor telephone etiquette can lead to things like miscommunication, upsetting people, and above all it is unprofessional. A secretary is usually the first person a client or outside person deals with and they create the impression that the person has of the company. If the secretary creates a bad impression then that is how the client will see the company. 

Typing Skills 

Typing skills are as important today as they were in the past. This is because of the fact that you still need to type a lot of different things. There are emails, memos, meeting minutes, dictation, and many other things that you will need type on a daily basis. 

Excellent Language Skills

Excellent language skills go hand in hand with everything else on this list. You need to have these skills when you talk on the phone to clients and customers. When you are sending an email or typing you need to be sure that your spelling, language and grammar are perfect. 

Problem Solving Skills

Secretaries have to be creative and able to think on their feet. This is because they need to be able to quickly handle any problem that may arise. Whether it is an issue with scheduling issues, pr an unhappy customer, the secretary needs to be able to come up with a suitable solution at a moment’s notice.

Time Management

Since there are so many things that a secretary needs to do and keep track of that it is very important that a secretary has excellent time management skills. A secretary needs to be able to know when to do what and have a  good idea of how long each task will take to make sure that they manage to do everything they need to. 

Research Skills

Research skills are more important in certain industries than in others but all secretaries need to be able to do research. They might be called on to look up legal information, find information on a company, or anything else that their colleagues might need. 

Note and Minute Taking

Lastly, a good secretary is very good at taking notes and minutes during a meeting. These notes help to make sure that things happen and get done. Meeting minutes need to be clear and accurate as they are there as a record of everything that was discussed in a meeting. 

What are the Duties of a Secretary?

The duties of a secretary depend on the industry in which they work. However, there are some general duties that apply to all secretaries. All secretaries need to deal with welcoming and greeting clients when they arrive. The secretary is usually the first person a client meets when they arrive at a company so they create the first impression the client gets of the business. 

Secretaries are also responsible for making travel arrangements for staff when they need to travel for business, as well as arranging for accommodation if they need to stay overnight. A secretary is also expected to do things like typing up reports, writing letters, emails, and similar.

Every office has certain things that get used up. Things like paper, toner for the photocopier, and other office supplies. It is part of a secretaries job to make sure that these things are kept stocked and order new supplies when needed. 

Are There Different Types of Secretary?

There are many different kinds of secretaries. The differences between the types of secretaries depend on their duties and the industry in which they are working. Some of these are:

  • General Secretary
  • Legal Secretary
  • Paralegal
  • Medical Receptionist 
  • Executive Assistant
  • Personal Assistant

The different kinds of secretaries have different skills that set them apart from one another. For example, a legal secretary needs to be able to type up legal documents, type transcripts of court proceedings, confirming court dates, and researching legal information to assist the lawyers. 

A medical receptionist works in a doctors office. This means that they need to have some basic medical knowledge, be able to handle the bills, schedule specific procedures, and even more. 

Which kind of secretary you become will depend on the field and industry that you would like to specialise in. 

How to Become a Secretary

While there are many ways to become a secretary and the requirements to become a secretary may be different depending on where in the world you are. Generally, however, if you have completed high school and have a good grasp of computer systems then you would be able to get an entry-level position. 

The best way, however, is to study a secretarial course. Having a qualification like this behind your name will immediately set you apart from other people. It also shows that you have many well-developed skills, which would even help you get a higher position.

Studying a Secretarial Course

There is a wide range of secretarial courses out there. You can find courses aimed at general secretarial skills or even more specialised courses that focus on a specific field. Some of these courses are offered by universities. Other colleges and companies also offer these courses. 

Some companies, like Skills Academy, offer distance learning courses. Distance learning courses are very popular because of the freedom they give students. These courses allow you to study from home at a time that is convenient for you. 

With distance learning, you can work and study at the same time. This makes it a very popular option for many people. You can set up your own schedule and even study from anywhere in the world. 

Skills Academy Secretarial Courses 

The Skills Academy Secretarial courses are designed to give you a very good range of skills in the shortest possible. Skills Academy offers National Diploma courses, as well as provider programs

National Diploma Secretarial Courses

A National Diploma course is a nationally recognised qualification that is registered on the National Qualifications Framework (NQF). Skills Academy has two National Diploma secretarial courses namely the Legal Secretary and Management Assistant courses. There are three courses, from N4 to N6, in each one of these fields. 

The National Diploma: Legal Secretary gives you all the knowledge and skills you need to be able to work in a law firm or similar legal company. This includes getting an introduction to law, the most common legal practices, helping you to increase your typing speed, audio typing, and the most commonly used legal terms and words.

One of the advantages of taking this course is that you can even specialise in which field of law you want to work such as contract writing, for example. 

A Management Assistant is there to help a manager and even does some of the same things that a manager does. Some of the duties of a management assistant include planning meetings, helping to manage employees, assisting customers, and making and receiving orders.

The Management Assistant course is slightly less specialised than the legal secretary course. This means that you have a wide range of careers you could look into such as being a receptionist, a management assistant, an office administrator, or even a personal assistant.

ICB Secretarial Courses

Skills Academy also offers courses by the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers (ICB). While most of these courses are more focused on finances and accounting, they also offer an Office Administration study stream. The study stream is made up of three separate courses namely the National Certificate: Office Administration, Diploma: Office Administration Course, and the Higher Certificate: Office Administration. 

These courses will teach you how to effectively manage and run an office. Apart from general secretarial duties, an office manager does things like order supplies, coordinate the daily activities in the office, manages the admin staff, draws up agendas for meetings, and much more. The ICB courses also give you internationally recognised qualifications. This means that you could use your qualification anywhere in the world. 

Provider Courses

Skills Academy also has its own courses that can help you get into the secretarial field. They offer nine different courses in four different secretarial fields:

  • Receptionist courses, 
  • Personal Assistant courses,
  • Professional Secretary courses, and 
  • Medical Office Receptionist courses.

These are non-accredited provider programmes. This means that the qualification might not be as widely accepted as a National Diploma, however, the give you a high-level of skill and potential employers will see that you are dedicated to improving yourself. This will already set you apart from others.

Why Should I Choose Skills Academy?

One of the advantages of such a wide variety of Secretarial courses is that you could study more than one to improve and specialise. For example, you could study the National Diploma: Management Assistant, and the Medical Office Receptionist courses if you would like to work in that field. Not only would you have a nationally recognised qualification, but you would also have more specialised skills, making you a much better candidate. 

Apart from this, Skills Academy offers many other services and options that can make studying much more affordable. These include things like their EasyPay system, which allows you to pay your fees at certain shops throughout South Africa. 

They also give you the option to pay your fees monthly instead of one lump sum upfront. Paying one huge amount can be difficult for some, so paying monthly is an easier and cheaper option. Along with this is the ability to pause your studies, and therefore payment, for up to two months if you are unable to study during that time. 

Another advantage to paying your fees monthly is that if you finish your studies in less time than is listed, then you don’t need to pay for the remaining months. This means that if you finish an eight-month course in only six months, you will only pay for six months.