How to Become a School Secretary

Always be nice to secretaries. They are the real gatekeepers in the world. Anthony D'Angelo
School secretary wears glasses and sits at a desk

A school secretary is often the unrecognized heartbeat of a school. The secretary for school is typically the first person you will see when entering the building and will also be the last you see as you leave or sign out. The secretary is the person behind every schedule, meeting, record, bill and file contained in a school building. Most school personnel will gladly tell you that if the information is to be found, the secretary will know how to find it.

Qualities of a School Secretary

The type of person who will fare best as a school secretary is one that is people oriented, can multi-task, understands secretarial duties and is highly organized. The school secretary has to complete work in a timely manner to meet deadlines while keeping schedules for teachers, principals, and events. This same secretary must greet all visitors, answer the school phone to direct calls, make announcements and complete billing.

Job Growth for School Secretaries

A secretary can move up in the realm of secretaries as many schools have two or more secretaries to perform the duties described. A select few secretaries may move into the board office, but these positions are limited.

How Do I Become A School Secretary?

School secretaries are not normally required to hold a bachelor's degree. However, this is required in some school districts so specifics should be determined prior to application. A secretary is hired based on ability and experience, though an associate's degree in office management or vocational training as a secretary are preferable. Previous experience in a secretarial position may take the place of any formal training for some schools.

Though little to no formal training is required to become a school secretary, the person taking the job should be proficient in computer use, printer use, using a photocopier, fax machine and in basic bookkeeping and billing tasks. School secretaries work the typical school year and hours for most schools.

What Does A School Secretary Do?

A school secretary works in the school office, typically right out front so that he or she is the first and last person you see when entering or leaving a school. In some schools, the secretary must buzz you into the building after official school hours have started or ended. This is just one of the many duties of a secretary. A secretary is responsible for entering the lunch information into the billing system as well as keeping track of attendance, verifying bus notes and doctor's excuses, keeping schedules for their supervisors and keeping supply orders up to date.

The secretary may also have to serve other duties as needed or required in a particular position. School secretaries are the go to people in a school if a teacher is low on supplies, if a meeting needs to be scheduled or if paperwork needs to be filed or located. The school secretary is expected to keep confidentiality in all matters as he or she will have access to student files, meeting notes and employee records.

The school secretary can have a positive impact on everyone in the school. A secretary has the ability to help create a well organized school that runs smoothly. However, a secretary does much of this with little official recognition. The school secretary is the face of the school since he or she is the first person most parents and students will speak to in the building.

School Secretary Job Description & Job Duties

Known as the hub of the school, the school secretary is an integral part of the smooth operation of the facility, staff and students, ensuring that the school and its resources and agendas dovetail in order to provide excellence educational opportunities to each student while functioning as a resource for the community. While tasks are somewhat similar between elementary and high school roles, the accompanying information outlines the job requirements for each section.

Elementary School Secretary Job Duties

Both challenging and rewarding, the position of elementary school secretary is crucial to the smooth running of any elementary school. The elementary school secretary will:

  • Provide clerical and administrative support to the principal, vice principal and teaching staff as directed
  • Ensure that the school operates in a consistently organized manner every day
  • Act as liaison between the community, the school and other internal and external stakeholders
  • Coordinate appropriate documents for communication with the district office
  • Maintain all recordkeeping for students and staff
  • Maintain student and staff confidentiality in all circumstances
  • Track attendance and absences; use reporting software and generate reports for internal and external use
  • Communicate effectively with a variety of district and community officials
  • Manage multi-line phone systems and public address systems
  • Perform payroll, benefit, petty cash and school funds transactions and recordkeeping, data entry, reconcile payroll and benefits liabilities accounts, etc.
  • Perform general office duties such as answering telephone inquiries, filing, mail, spreadsheets and journal entries on a daily basis
  • Provide services for teachers, administrators and students like typing, proofreading, editing, processing daily mail
  • Maintain the integrity of information systems, databases, and office files
  • Coordinate internal and external meetings appointments, events, workshops, seminars and special events
  • Purchase departmental resources like materials, computers hardware, software and office equipment

High School Secretary Job Duties

Much like their elementary school counterpart, the high school secretary performs a diverse set of tasks under the pressure of timelines and confidentiality. Jobs do vary depending on the size of the school, but generally, high school secretaries:

  • Provide clerical and administrative support to the principal, vice principal; support teaching staff as policy directs
  • Ensure that the school operates in a consistently organized manner every day
  • Act as liaison between the community, the school and other internal and external stakeholders
  • Maintain and oversee all recordkeeping for students and staff
  • Act as first point-of-contact to callers, relay messages, and transfer calls as appropriate
  • Arrange conferences, meetings, and travel reservations for administrative personnel both using school resources and out-of-school arrangements
  • Complete forms in accordance with school and district procedures, following education legislation
  • Compose, type, and distribute staff and department meeting notes, routine correspondence
  • Generate and distribute reports as appropriate
  • Handle visitor inquiries, and direct them to the appropriate person according to their needs
  • Locate and attach appropriate files to incoming correspondence requiring replies.
  • Open, read, route, and distribute incoming mail and other material and prepare answers to routine letters
  • Set up and maintain paper and electronic filing systems for records, correspondence and other material
  • Collect and disburse funds from cash accounts; keep accurate records of collections and disbursements
  • Record attendance and absences; make phone calls as appropriate
  • Establish work procedures and schedules, and manage workflow of other clerical staff members; manage projects from a clerical perspective, and contribute to committee and team work
  • Order, track and dispense supplies
  • Review work done by others ensure that school formatting and content policies are followed; revise as necessary

Where Can School Secretaries Work?

If a secretary has received training or has the appropriate work experience to be hired into the school system, than he or she can work at any public, private or charter school after a background check has been completed. A school secretary can work at any level with the same training. As with any public school, the number of students and the diversity of students may be greater. Secretaries tend to have more students at the middle and high school levels in public school as well. In private school, where tuition is due, secretaries could see a slight increase in pay, but more training may also be necessary. Charter schools may also need the services of a secretary for similar job duties.

A secretary's job does not change much due to type of school or grade levels served. The secretary will usually be the person who keeps the records, appointments and schedules straight for the school in its entirety.

School Secretary Salary and Job Benefits

The 2019 median annual salary for a school secretary was $39,850 per year in 2019, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Similar to other state jobs, working in the same position for several years could mean a slight increase in salary each year.

School secretaries in public and private schools earn roughly the same salary, with public employees earning near the higher end of the wage range on average. Experience is the most important factor governing increase in salary. Wages increase yearly to a set maximum. School secretaries do not require formal post-secondary training to be considered for candidacy. Level of education is a minor factor in determining salary for this demographic.

(Salary data for secretaries reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in May 2019. Figures represent state data, not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Information accessed March 2021.)

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