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Employment Outlook for Stenographers and Secretaries

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One of the most important considerations in choosing a vocation is the probability that jobs will be available when the training necessary for entering the job is completed. A person has only to look at the openings for stenographers and secretaries in the help-wanted columns of the daily newspaper to see that there is a great shortage of such personnel. For instance, even when New York City was experiencing 7.7 percent unemployment during 1980, on a "light" day there were more than 100 openings advertised for secretaries versus twelve advertisements for typists and forty for bookkeepers.

A periodic check of this sort will indicate local needs, but even more reliable is the work of the U.S. Labor Department in studying where jobs will be found in the next ten years. Its 1980 publication, Occupational Projections and Training Data, unveils employment estimates in 240 occupations. This study estimates that of the more than 16.6 million clerical jobs estimated to exist in 1978, more than 3.5 million were in the stenographer-secretary classification. This compared with about a million typists and about 1.8 million book-keeping workers. But more important than these employment figures are the estimates of job openings for stenographic-secretarial workers every year up to 1990- approximately 305,000 new workers will be needed! No other group of clerical workers has as large a percentage of increase (45.5%) in openings as secretaries-stenographers. The percentage of increase for bookkeepers, for example, is 11.8 percent, while for typists it is 19.4 percent.

It is significant that, with the exception of systems analyst and programmer which are usually classified as professionals, secretary A and B lead the salaries of the office force and stenographer is in the first eleven groups of office workers in terms of salary.

What Secretaries Say About Their Jobs

Comments by two secretaries attest to their convictions that secretarial work is a rewarding career.

Clare Jennings, past president of the Professional Secretaries International puts it this way:

"Only a little more than fifty years ago, the young women who mastered a machine just coming into wide use and who ventured into the then almost entirely male world of business were known as "typewriters." Perhaps that is why many people still have the impression that a secretary's main task is a machinelike turning out of perfect letters from nine to five and why so many others use the title "secretary" to mean anyone employed in any stenographic or clerical position.

"True, typing and shorthand are two of the basic skills of the secretary, but her duties cover a much wider field than the work of such valuable specialists as the typist, stenographer, file clerk, and receptionist. The secretary, as we use the title today, often fills all of those positions. In addition, she is an assistant who knows many of the confidential matters of her office and of her employer's business dealings. She uses this knowledge to protect [the employer] from unnecessary interruptions, delays, and confusions, and to clear decks in a score of other ways.

"She knows which calls to route to [the employer] immediately, which to delay until she can supply needed reference material, which she can best deal with herself. She sits in on conferences when a trusted witness is needed. Her manner over the telephone and to visitors sets the mood of the office. She is a daytime hostess rather than a receptionist.

"One secretary may handle a great volume of letters; another does very little typing. Under any circumstances, there is little machinelike about their work. No machine has the tact to soothe the ruffled feelings of an important caller who must cool his heels while an equally important one overstays his time. No machine has the judgment about what information may be released in a boss's absence, which requests must be smoothly sidetracked. No machine can act as a boss's memory by combined use of intelligence, filed material, and a carefully kept appointment book.

"A secretary's career can have enormous personal rewards. Her working hours and conditions are pleasant. Her office is certain to be comfortable. In a big office, she has opportunity to meet many new friends. Her work puts her in touch with men and women of achievement in many fields. And no field of special interest is closed to the young [person] who chooses secretary ship as a career."
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