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While the word ‘secretary’ is a fairly basic and straightforward one, it covers a lot of different job areas. For example becoming a general secretary is a very different role to becoming a legal secretary.
So if you are interested in becoming a secretary it is wise to have a closer look at the various types of secretary jobs that are available in South Africa today. It is worth noting that many secretarial positions in South Africa will require applicants to be fluent in English and in Afrikaans. This is true of positions in many parts of the country, so bear this in mind as you research what is required for each position.
This role tends to involve many secretarial tasks and it also typically requires you to work directly for one particular person as a personal assistant, hence the job title. You will normally need some experience as a junior secretary in order to be considered for this type of role.
Senior secretary jobs
Larger companies that tend to have several secretaries working for them will likely require senior secretaries as well as junior ones. This job role provides you with more responsibility and your duties will likely include organisational tasks as well as practical ones. A good example would be the responsibility to plan and arrange meetings and locations.
A legal secretary will work for a law firm. They are also sometimes called litigation secretaries. This tends to be a more focused career path, i.e. you will focus on going into the legal profession to begin with, rather than looking for any secretarial position.
This is typically a ground floor opportunity for those who are new to the profession. The requirements asked of you by each employer will vary, depending on the nature of the business and the work you will be required to do. The good thing is you can to some extent learn the skills you need on the job.
Differences in experience
One thing you will notice is that different secretary positions require vastly different amounts of experience. For example if you choose to work in a smaller business you will generally find more is expected of you than if you worked for a larger company. This is because you may be the only secretary working there, or at least one of a very small number.
In this situation you may be required to perform more tasks, such as managing the switchboard or taking on general office duties as well as those a secretary would perform. In a larger business other personnel would probably be employed for these tasks, leaving you to focus on your secretarial duties.
However this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, because you can sometimes gain more all round experience by working for a smaller business in South Africa. Once you gain this type of experience you can approach the bigger companies as a secretary with all round skills, and that will make you look more employable.