The position of school secretary is available in elementary, secondary, and middle schools, and it is one of the top occupations in terms of numbers. In essence, school secretaries provide secretarial and administrative support, perform multiple technical tasks, and they are front-row communicators.
Administratively, school secretaries do a lot more than keeping records, dealing with general clerical duties, and handling correspondence. They also become best friends, confidantes, pseudo-counselors, and unofficial advisors to and for pupils, parents, and staff members – often even the principal of the school.
While duties clearly do vary in terms of specific school requirements, people always come into the picture, which is why communication skills are so important. School secretaries, sometimes called administrative assistants, have been described as the “heartbeat” of a school.
When you enter a school building, the secretary is likely to be the first and last person you see. They literally see it all… and they generally know exactly what’s going on.
If you need to know something, ask the school secretary!
Resume objective for school secretary
When you write an objective for a school secondary resume, it might help to focus on the fact that, in reality, school secretaries do a lot more than the duties detailed in their job brief.
Of course, you’re going to have to make sure that you can do what is required. But don’t hesitate to add objectives that might be needed. School secretaries really are the glue that keeps a school together. Think of the jobs you’ve done in your previous job that weren’t in the initial job description. Add these to your objective in your proposal for your new position.
Never forget that you – the school secretary – is key to ensuring that the school runs smoothly, even if you aren’t going to gain official recognition. But be sure to focus on the requirements that are specified in the job advertisement, and then, later, you can back these up with information about education and experience.
Secretary with experience providing top-level administrative support. Adept at handling payroll, personnel budgets, work and classroom schedules. Empathetic, enthusiastic, and an excellent communicator. Has all the necessary admin and computer skills needed for the job.
Resume skills for school secretary
Secretaries need to have excellent admin and organizational skills. But school secretaries need additional skills including the ability to work with children – and their parents.
So, when it comes to listing the skills you have to meet the needs for a job as a school secretary, think laterally. Why will you be a better secretary in a school environment than other people punting for the same job?
If you have already been working as a school secretary, you’ll be able to show valuable experience. But if you have had some other kind of secretarial job (or jobs), and you haven’t specifically had school secretary experience, you will need to get your head around what is important for this role.
Certainly, you’re going to have to be well organized and you will need to have the ability to keep a clear head. Deadlines will be important every day of the working week. Pupils have to be at school at a certain time and they need to deliver work in time. So do you!
While there is no denying that you’re going to have to tackle mountains of paperwork, much more erudite skills will also be necessary. Apart from anything else, you’re going to have to build trust and show kindness to pupils. Confidentiality is also vital.
Every school secretary also needs to have a good business telephone etiquette. At the end of the day, while you aren’t teaching the kids, you are the one who is putting in enormous time and effort to ensure that the school runs efficiently.
Microsoft Office | Typing and shorthand | Elementary bookkeeping | Literacy and numeracy | Strong human relations skills | Good communication and interpersonal skills | Confident telephone manner | Negotiation | Assertiveness | Tact, discretion, and diplomacy
School secretary work experience
It doesn’t really matter what job you are applying for, the fact is that employers generally prefer people with experience.
It’s the same for school secretaries, though if you have more general secretarial experience it might be more than enough for you to get the job. Just be sure to show you have the required experience when you compile your resume.
Interestingly, some job advertisements combine skills with experience. So, if you are able to demonstrate certain abilities, literally from being able to use computer software for word processing, spreadsheets, emails, and databases to be able to communicate well and maintain confidentiality, you might meet their needs in terms of experience.
Of course, feet-on-the-ground stuff is invaluable, and if you can give real-life examples, that would be a lot better. It doesn’t matter if the experience you show varies from job to job. It might even include one or more internships in either the public or private sector.
Sample Work Experience
Prince George Public School
School Secretary, 2018 – 2019
Acted as receptionist and secretary to the principal. Processed a wide range of administrative information and data. Collected and compiled the principal’s reports. Issued book, office, and school supplies.
- Gained respect from the school and parents for professionalism in issuing tardy passes
- Trained and supervised 23 student assistants
- Worked closely with school counselors and monitored student guidance records
- Introduced the use of remote terminals to streamline and make data entry more efficient
Atlanta Public School
School Secretary, 2016 – 2018
Undertook a wide variety of admin and clerical jobs from writing/typing and editing letters to compiling staff calendars. Responded to ongoing routine inquiries. Responsible for payroll and other records.
- Instituted active and regular testing based on state processes and policies
- Reduced bad debts by 60%
- Maintained the student first aid station when the full-time nurse was absent
- Devised an effective communications process to be used in emergencies
School secretary education
US Bureau of Labor statistics show that most employers of school secretaries are happy with a high school diploma and proven office skills like typing and computer proficiency. However, jobs advertised for “administrative assistants” at schools often require a diploma or an associate degree, although the work they do is basically the same.
There are many vocational and business schools, as well as community colleges, that offer short six- to nine-month office assistant and secretary certificate programs. These normally cover computer applications, basic management practices, business writing skills, and good interpersonal communications.
More advanced training can be undertaken at community and technical colleges that offer associate degrees that include courses to prepare for certification exams (see below). Coursework will usually include office management, document formatting and business writing, electronic publishing, and Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, and so on).
Hudson Valley Community College, 2016 – 2017
Associate degree in Administrative Management and Technology
- Internship completed at Lower Manhattan Community Middle School
LaGuardia Community College, 2017
Administrative Assistant Certificate
Global Human Peace University (online), 2016
Certificate in Secretarial Practice
- Course completed in six months
Not all school secretaries have any sort of formal education for the job, let alone a degree or diploma. However, you’ll stand a better chance of getting jobs if you have general office skills. While these can be acquired on the job, if you feel uncomfortable about your level of knowledge in any area, consider taking a course or two at a college or online.
Examples of courses to look out for include administrative skills training courses and courses that will teach you how to work with Microsoft Office.
An admin skills training course will help you to improve your organizational skills, write letters, documents, and emails more efficiently, learn about priority management, improve your telephonic skills, and understand data management techniques. A good course will help you to become a master of time management techniques and improve your stress endurance skills.
- Administrative Skills Training Course
- Computer Practise Course (Windows 7, Microsoft Excel, word processing)
- Business Writing Skills
Probably the most common certifications that attract school secretaries are Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) certifications like MOS on Microsoft Office 2016. There are training courses to prepare for the five exams involved that test your knowledge of MO Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, and Outlook.
If you want to up your act and be noticed, consider certification offered by the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP), a professional association dedicated to providing admins (including secretaries) with the skills, knowledge, and insights to improve their careers.
There are two options, the Certified Administrative Professional (CAP) and Certified Professional Secretary (CPS). Both these exams cover office systems, admin and management, and elements of office technology and have minimum requirements in terms of education and/or experience.
You don’t need to have a degree to be certified, but then you will need to have at least four years of related work experience to qualify for the certification.
- MOS on Microsoft Office 2016
Complete school secretary resume sample
Now we’re going to look at an advertisement for a school secretary and consider how to craft a superior resume that will stand out from the crowd. You can follow the same process when you adapt your resume to fit the job opportunity you are chasing.
The position of administrative assistant at Birch Family Services School entails all the duties we have discussed including liaison with the various school departments that deal with payroll, accounts, human resources, and so on.
Responsibilities and requirements are detailed and, again, they include the usual scheduling of appointments, secretarial and bookkeeping support, interfacing with families, maintaining reporting systems, and maintaining nice, clean work and common spaces.
The school caters for children who are at risk of having developmental delays and other special needs, so the requirements to be able to self-evaluate, solve problems, and supervise are particularly important.
Caring and committed administrative assistant with strong secretarial skills. Experience with payroll, attendance, reporting and record-keeping. Certified secretary. Thrives working with children and families. Good team player and committee role-player. Full range of admin and computer skills.
Microsoft Office | Bookkeeping | Record-keeping and reporting | Knowledge of typical school policies and procedures | Excellent communication skills | Good problem-solver | Supportive and understanding | Willing to learn new skills
NY Independent School
High School Campus Secretary, 2018 – 2019
Ensured the efficient operation of the school’s administrative office. Provided clerical services for the administrative school. Functions included typing, word processing, file maintenance, basic accounting, and developing databases and spreadsheets.
- Commended for my effective interpersonal, communication, and effective organizational skills (letter of reference available)
- Volunteered to function as the fire marshall during fire drills
- Helped to track and distribute school supplies and effectively reduced loss significantly
- Initiated an after-school program for students
Plainfield Community School
Secretary for Main Office – High School, 2017
Worked with school staff, students, and parents. Greeted and checked in visitors. Answered phones and carried out a wide range of office tasks using Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.
- Commended for being highly organized, dedicated, and flexible
- Participated in as many team building strategies as I could
- Assisted other staff members if they were unable to cope with certain duties
- Took responsibility for payroll and reduced bad debts by 25% in two months
- MOS on Microsoft Office 2015
New York Career Institute
Secretarial Certification, 2016
- Studied for CPS
Administrative Assistant Certificate, 2015
- Course completed online in five months
- Microsoft Office Applications Certificate Program
- Accounting With Microsoft Excel
- Excellence in Service: Basic
Considered to be the hub and face of the school, school secretaries play a vital role in the smooth operation of schools and colleges. They need to be good administrators, but they also need to be kind, willing, and masters of communication.
- School secretaries work in the offices of elementary, middle, and high schools. They provide support services for students, parents, teachers, and administrators to keep the school running without unnecessary problems.
- The type of person who is likely to succeed as a school secretary will generally be people-oriented, will be able to multitask, will understand secretarial duties, and will certainly be highly organized.
- School secretaries must be able to complete their work in a timely manner, meet deadlines, and keep schedules for teachers, principals, and school events. This same person also needs to greet all visitors, answer the school phone, direct calls to other people and departments, make announcements, and complete billing.
Tips from Experts
“High school graduates who have experience using computer software applications usually qualify for entry-level positions. Executive secretaries usually need several years of related work experience.” – US Bureau of Labor Statistics
“Always be nice to secretaries. They are the real gatekeepers in the world.” – Anthony J. D’Angelo, author
“Every day at school is a different day.” – Barbara Ross, secretary to the counselor of a US middle school
School secretaries and admin assistants can have a positive impact on everyone at schools, from the students to the principal. They keep the school running smoothly and often get minimal official recognition for what they do.
Typically, school secretaries are up-front and both visible and accessible to everyone. They need to be tough admin gurus who care about people.
Most school secretaries don’t have bachelor’s or even associate degrees, though when the title changes to administrative assistant, this prerequisite is more likely. If they have the skills, they make the grade. It’s really that simple.
And when you want to climb the school secretary ladder, experience is key.