Secretaries and Administrative Assistants
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Overview
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Perform routine administrative functions such as drafting correspondence, scheduling appointments, organizing and maintaining paper and electronic files, or providing information to callers.
Titles for this career often contain these words
AdministrativeAssistantSecretaryAdminCoordinatorSpecialistOfficeAssociateClerkSupportEscrowPersonalLiaisonResourcesASATechnicianAppointmentSchedulerClericalDepartmentFrontDeskAdministratorOperationsPoliceRealEstateSchedulingSchoolAttendanceStaff
Education
Only 23% of secretaries and administrative assistants have a bachelor's degree or higher.
Education attained by secretaries and administrative assistants
None
High School
Some College
Associate's/Cert.
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Professional Degree
Doctorate
Context: workers with bachelor's degrees
This is near the middle of all careeers' percentages of bachelor's holders.
Employment
Workforce size
Secretaries and administrative assistants, with 2,382,500 workers, form a larger workforce than 99% of careers.
Predicted employment growth
Over the next decade, jobs for secretaries and administrative assistants are expected to shrink by 9%, and should have about 233,500 job openings a year.
Safety from automation
Secretaries and administrative assistants are more likely to be automated than 89% of other careers.
Salaries
Context: Median Salary
How do salaries for secretaries and administrative assistants compare to other jobs' salaries?
Distribution: What salary can you expect?
See what most secretaries and administrative assistants earn.
$38K$0$20K$40K$60K
Gender
Women account for 94% of secretaries and administrative assistants -- that's a larger percentage than 99% of other jobs.
Gender of secretaries and administrative assistants
Men
Women
Context: Salary inequity
For each career, we compared the median (middle) men's salary to the median women's salary. For secretaries and administrative assistants, the median men's salary was 11% more the median woman's salary.
Race/Origin
About 17% of secretaries and administrative assistants are minority, and 9% are foreign-born.
Race/origin of secretaries and administrative assistants
White
Black
Pacific Islander
Hispanic
Asian
American Indian
Multiracial
Other
Context: Foreign-born workers (9%)
Where are the most jobs?
We ranked the number of jobs in Secretaries and Administrative Assistants per thousand workers in each state, DC, and Puerto Rico. Blue indicates low density, with lighter shades moving to yellow indicating higher numbers working in this profession.
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Benefits
How do benefits for this career compare to other jobs?
Context: Employer offers health insurance
Context: Employer offers a pension plan
Context: workers are union members
Worker concerns
Some jobs are more stressful than others, and some are just plain dangerous. The following list gives the percentages of secretaries and administrative assistants who report hazardous or difficult situations typically occurring at least once a week.
  • Time Pressure (78%)
  • Deal With Unpleasant or Angry People (44%)
  • Frequency of Conflict Situations (34%)
SOURCES:
Salary and diversity
What do secretaries and administrative assistants earn?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provides company-reported job titles and corresonding salaries. This data excludes self-employed workers.
Distribution: Salaries for secretaries and administrative assistants (BLS Salary Data)
$38K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
Context: Median salaries across careers (BLS Salary Data)
$38K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
The American Community Survey (ACS) asks individuals to report their occupation and salary, and as such includes self-employed workers.
Distribution: Salaries for secretaries and administrative assistants (ACS Salary Data)
$37K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
Context: Median salaries across careers (ACS Salary Data)
$37K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
Secretaries and administrative assistants: Inflation-adjusted salary trend
This job's median $38KAll jobs' median $45K$38K$44K070809101112131415161718$0$20K$40K$60K$80K
A look at employers and corresponding salaries
The donut shares the break-down of workers by employer type, giving us a picture of what employers most typically hire secretaries and administrative assistants.
Employers of Secretaries and Administrative Assistants (ACS)
Private for-profit (61.0%)
Private not-for-profit (12.7%)
Local government (11.7%)
State government (9.1%)
Federal government (2.7%)
Self-employed incorporated (1.9%)
Self-employed not incorporated (0.9%)
Working without pay (0.1%)
Distribution: Salaries of secretaries and administrative assistants by type of employer (ACS data)
Following are the salary distributions by employer type calculated by aggregating individual household survey responses.
$37K$36K$37K$37K$30K$36K$47K$35K$22K$0$20,000$40,000$60,000$80,000$100,000Working without paySelf-employed not incorporatedSelf-employed incorporatedFederal governmentState governmentLocal governmentPrivate not-for-profitPrivate for-profitAll
Distribution: Salaries of secretaries and administrative assistants by type of employer (BLS data)
Following are the salary distributions by employer type as reported by BLS based on large employer-focused surveys. We note that smaller employer categories are not included by BLS.
$38K$0$20,000$40,000$60,000All

We only include salary data when the survey error is less than 20%, so you may see only partial information for some categories.

Salary growth for secretaries and administrative assistants

Is this a job that rewards experience, or is this job most likely a part of a career ladder? The higher a job's experience quotient, the more experience is rewarded with pay increases. Jobs in the green range have the best rewards with experience.

Take a minute to look at how much you might expect your salary to increase with each five years' experience, as well as how the numbers working at each age change. Does this seem to be a job for the young or the old, or could it be a career offering steady salary growth for many years?

Salary distribution
$34K$40K$39K$36K$37K$31K$41K$41K$24K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K20-2425-2930-3435-3940-4445-4950-5455-5960-64
Number employed
0100K200K300K400K20-2425-2930-3435-3940-4445-4950-5455-5960-64

We only include salary data when the survey error is less than 20%, so you may see only partial information for some categories.

Secretaries and administrative assistants and gender

With 94% women, this occupation has a higher percentage of women than 99% of careers.

Context: Women in the workforce
94%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Gender of Secretaries and administrative assistants
Men (6%)
Women (94%)
Distribution: Salaries by gender

The median salary for all full-time male workers in the US exceeds the full-time median salary for women by 19%. The situation is a little better for secretaries and administrative assistants, with the median salary for men 11% higher than the median salary for women.

$37K$41K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100KWomenMen
Context: Salary Inequity

The chart below shows the salary inequity, the percentage by which the median men's salary is higher than the median women's salary for all but about 20 jobs in which women typically earn more than men. Secretaries and administrative assistants have one of the smaller inequity calculations, with the increase for men's median salary over women's median salary in this job lower than that for 67% of other jobs.

11%0%20%40%60%80%100%

We only include salary data when the survey error is less than 20%, so you may see only partial information for some categories.

Race and origin of secretaries and administrative assistants

Here we check out the diversity of origin in this career. There is a smaller percentage of minority secretaries and administrative assistants than for 65% of other careers. As with minority workers, there is also a smaller percentage of foreign-born workers in this career than in most other careers.

Race/origin of secretaries and administrative assistants
White (80% )
Black (10% )
Other (3% )
Asian (3% )
Multiracial (2% )
Hispanic (1% )
American Indian (1% )
Pacific Islander (0% )
Context: Representation of minorities in the workforce
17%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Context: Representation of foreign-born workers
9%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Distribution: Salaries for secretaries and administrative assistants by race/origin

For some careers, there is a pay disparity depending on race or origin, though this is not prevalent. We calculate standard errors for all of our calculations, and when the error is high we do not show results. Therefore, for some jobs will have omitted race/origin categories.

$32K$33K$34K$37K$37K$37K$37K$42K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100KHispanicOtherAmerican IndianMultiracialPacific IslanderBlackWhiteAsian
Distribution: Salaries for secretaries and administrative assistants by nativity
$37K$37K$0$20K$40K$60K$80KAll native citizensAll foreign-born

We only include salary data when the survey error is less than 20%, so you may see only partial information for some categories.

Secretaries and administrative assistants and Part-time/Full-time employment

We've found that somes jobs hava a huge number of part-time workers, and that typically most who are working part-time are doing so because they cannot find full-time work or the job they have cannot provide full-time hours. With 22% part-time workers, this occupation has a higher percentage of part-time workers than 71% of careers.

Context: Part-time workers in the workforce
22%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Why workers are part-time
Full-Time is less than 35 hours a week
Retired/Social Security limit on earnings
Could not find full-time work
Seasonal work
Slack work/business conditions
School/training
Health/medical limitations
Child care problems
Other family/personal obligations
Other reasons
Distribution: Salaries by part-time/full-time status

The salary distributions for full-time and part-time secretaries and administrative assistants is shown following.

$14K$37K$0$20K$40K$60K$80KPart-time workersFull-time workers
Pathways to this career
Education attained by secretaries and administrative assistants

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), secretaries and administrative assistants typically hold a high school diploma or equivalent.

Sometimes the typical education identified by the BLS differs a bit from the reality of the how much education current workers actually have. The donut shows the education level held by people currently working as secretaries and administrative assistants as reported in responses to the American Community Survey.

Details: Education and training recommended for secretaries and administrative assistants

High school graduates can take courses in word processing and office procedures at technical schools or community colleges. Some temporary placement agencies also provide training in word processing, spreadsheet, and database software.

Some medical and legal secretaries learn industry-specific terminology and practices by attending courses offered at community colleges or technical schools. For executive secretary positions, employers increasingly prefer to hire those who have taken some college courses or have a bachelor’s degree.

Education attained by secretaries and administrative assistants
None
High School
Some College
Associate's/Cert.
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Professional Degree
Doctorate
Distribution: Salary by education level

What level of education is truly needed for secretaries and administrative assistants? Below we see the distribution of secretaries and administrative assistants salaries based on the education attained.

$31K$35K$37K$37K$40K$43K$45K$45K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120KNone (2%)High School (27%)Some College (32%)Associate's/Cert. (15%)Bachelor's Degree (20%)Master's Degree (3%)Professional Degree (0%)Doctorate (0%)

We only include salary data when the survey error is less than 20%, so you may see only partial information for some categories.

Switching Careers
The most common next careers for secretaries and administrative assistants

What jobs will most secretaries and administrative assistants hold next year?

The data in this chart comes from person interviews for the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey. The survey interviews households eight times over a two-year period, allowing us a glimpse into how people move from job to job. You can see more details from the results of the survey in our last tab in this section, and you can read about our methodology in our source descriptions.

Here we see all of the jobs that at least 1% of secretaries and administrative assistants reported holding in their second year's survey. Is your future job on this list?

Secretaries and administrative assistantsFirst-Line Supervisors of Office and Administrative Support WorkersGeneral Office ClerksReceptionists and Information ClerksBookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerks
Lateral job transitions for secretaries and administrative assistants

A lateral career transition is a move to a job with similar pay and responsibilities. A move to such a job can offer a change of pace without an increase in stress or a decrease in pay. The following table simply identifies all 5 jobs which were held by at least 1% of survey respondents before working as secretaries and administrative assistants as well as 1% of respondents after working as secretaries and administrative assistants. Select a row to investigate the job's full description and determine if it truly offers an opportunity for a lateral transition.

Prior and next careers for secretaries and administrative assistants: full listings

What do people typically do before and after they work as secretaries and administrative assistants? Here are the full lists of all jobs that at least 1% of secretaries and administrative assistants surveyed reported as holding a year earlier or later.

Choose which type of transition to view
Prior jobs
Next jobs
Variation by state
State-by-state employment numbers

Some careers tend to be centered in specific parts of the country. For example, most jobs in fashion are in New York or California. Let's see if your dream job is easy to find in your dream location! We have a few choices for viewing the data that can help you get a full employment picture.

Job density versus job count

Which states hire the most secretaries and administrative assistants? We wonder if that's a fair question since states come in all sizes, so instead let's start with the question of which states have the highest density of people working as secretaries and administrative assistants. You can choose to view the number of jobs per state if you prefer.

BLS vs ACS data

This map defaults to employment information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which provides job totals carefully compiled for accuracy and with a primary focus on how employers describe their workers. The BLS job totals do not count self-employed workers. We've also compiled totals using the Census Bureau's American Community Survey (ACS) which are based on how workers describe themselves. Sometimes ACS results are quite a bit different from the employer-based BLS data.

Choose the metric to review
Jobs per 1000 working
Number of jobs
Use this data source
BLS
Number of Secretaries and Administrative Assistants per 1,000 workers (BLS)
Select a state to see local area details
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0.010.020.030.040.0
Salaries by state
Let's get a feel for where secretaries and administrative assistants earn the highest salaries. There are several choices for which data we consider and how we view that data, and each can lead to different conclusions, so please read on...
Median salary versus state ratio

We use two methods to compare salaries across states:

  • In-state comparisons: the ratio of median (middle) salaries for secretaries and administrative assistants compared to the median salary for all people working in each state, or
  • Median salary: the unaltered median salaries for secretaries and administrative assistants.

We hope the ratio allows perspective about how salaries may compare to the regional cost-of-living.

BLS vs ACS data

We have two sources for statewide salary information with important distinctions. The BLS data is created by surveying companies, missing individuals who are self-employed or work for smaller companies. The ACS data is compiled from multi-faceted household surveys and may reflect the inconsistencies that people may have in reporting information.

Choose the metric to review
Location-adjusted median salary
Median salary
Use this data source
BLS
Location-adjusted median salary for Secretaries and Administrative Assistants (BLS)
The darkest shading corresponds to states in which secretaries and administrative assistants earn the highest salary when compared to other jobs in the state. We think this ratio might be a better indicator than the actual salary for your buying power as a state resident.
Select a state to see local area details
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$0$10K$20K$30K$40K$50K
Compare to similar jobs

If this job interests you, then use the tabs and education selector to find other careers that might be a good fit for you.

How should the career similarity be computed?

There are a number of ways to measure the similarity of jobs, here are a few we provide:

  • Interests: Also known as a Holland Code - Are you a thinker? A helper? What fits your personality?
  • Environment: Are there hazards? Will you be comfortable? Will it be stressful?
  • Knowledge: What do you need to know the most about?
  • Physical Abilities: Do you need to especially strong or coordinated?