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Personal Assistant / Secretary
Personal assistants (PA’s), also known as personal secretaries, personal assistants or, on the highest level, as executive secretaries,.keep their employers’ offices running smoothly and efficiently and perform routine tasks so that their employers can attend to more demanding duties.

Personal assistants:

- take dictation and type letters and documents
- handle incoming and outgoing telephone calls
- keep record of office stocks and place orders when supplies run low
- receive, open and distribute mail
- file copies of letters sent out and correspondence received.
- may be required to make bank deposits and book
- arrange lunches and/or dinners for management
- make travel and hotel reservations

Appointments are made for those who wish to consult the employer directly. PA’s update and consult their employer’s dairy and remind them of appointments. They also furnish the employer with all the necessary information that might be needed for telephone calls, visitors and business trips.

Some personal assistants in smaller firms keep personnel files and arrange interviews between employees and management. Book-keeping and the
reception of clients are other tasks that may have to be undertaken.

Some personal assistants also undertake personal tasks, such as sending birthday cards and flowers to their employers’ spouses and children on birthdays and anniversaries, the dropping off and collecting of dry cleaning, and typing private and confidential letters for their bosses on personal matters.

Although this occupation is traditionally female, men are also employed as personal or executive assistants.

Satisfying Aspects
- keeping things running smoothly
- working with people
- steady employment and good job opportunities
- enjoying the confidence and respect of your employer
- variety of tasks

Demanding aspects
- working under pressure
- having to work long hours and overtime on occasion
- dealing with difficult people
- performing routine tasks, like filing
- sitting for long periods
- having your work interrupted and, in some cases, closely supervised

A private secretary should:
- work well with all types of people;
- be friendly, confident and tactful, competent and professional;
- be able to communicate well in speech and in writing;
- have good judgement and common sense;
- be dependable;
- remain composed in stressful situations;
- have the ability to concentrate;
- have a well groomed appearance.

School Subjects
National Senior Certificate

Compulsory Subjects: None
Recommended Subjects: English, Computer Applications, Business Science

Basic training for certificates and diplomas is offered at various universities of technology, Colleges for FET - eg Boland, Northlink, South Cape, and private secretarial colleges, eg Academy of Learning, Rosebank College, ICESA, Varsity College.

Experience and knowledge are gained through in-service training.

- Banks, insurance companies, real estate firms
- Department stores
- Government departments
- All types of businesses and industries
- Educational and research institutions
- Self-employment, as a freelancer or start own business offering secretarial services.

South African Secretaries and PA’s Association
P O Box 2517
Bedfordview, 2008
Tel: (011) 454-5505 Fax: (011) 454-5501