Education and Training: Bachelor’s degree, MBA and specialized training preferred
Average Salary: $183,000 per year
Job Outlook: Good
The company secretary, also called a corporate secretary, is responsible for maintaining important records for shareholders and a Board of Directors. This person often has legal experience and is responsible for advising the board on legal requirements for the company as well as for signing legal records.
Typically, the company secretary has some administrative duties, as well, including recording Board of Director meeting minutes, ensuring that legal records are maintained, organized, and available to the proper people, and organizing meetings for the Board of Directors and, if necessary, shareholders of an organization. The secretary also acts as a signing officer for many important legal documents, correspondence, contracts, checks, and applications necessary to the basic functioning of an organization.
Education and Training Requirements
Company secretaries must have at least a bachelor’s degree, and many benefit from having an MBA as well. To study for this job, one should take business, administration, and legal courses. Many company secretaries actually have a law degree, and companies whose secretaries deal primarily with legal issues often prefer this.
Professional organizations for corporate and company secretaries offer some continuing education seminars and courses, as well as introductory courses for those interested in entry-level company secretary positions. Most company secretaries have at least ten years of experience in the field, and many are hired from within the company out of other management-level positions.
Getting the Job
Because so many different tasks fall under the company secretary’s list of duties, they are often people who have years or even decades of experience in their field. Many companies hire from within their own management level for these jobs, so working your way up to management in a position that requires record keeping, legal knowledge, and administrative tasks is a good entryway for a company secretary job. Continuing education such as legal coursework and an MBA can boost your chances of getting a company secretary job.
Job Prospects, Employment Outlook and Career Development
As legal requirements become stricter for companies on many levels, company secretaries with knowledge of industry legalities and best practices are becoming more necessary. Job growth in this field is steady, though not booming, since only very large companies need multiple company secretaries.
The company secretary reports to the top tier management in a company, and many company secretaries maintain their positions for the rest of their careers. Some, though, may advance to higher level management or vice president positions within their company.
Working Conditions and Environment
The company secretary position is primarily office-based and may involve some travel if a company’s offices are spread out. The position can be stressful, since it deals with often touchy and ever-changing legal issues, though an organized person with excellent communications skills may find it more challenging than pressure-filled. Company secretaries work at least a forty hour week and may work more when crises arise or when board or shareholder meetings are impending.
Salary and Benefits
Because this is a high level position, company secretaries normally start out around the $90,000 per year salary range, and a few make almost $300,000 per year. The average company secretary makes $180,000 per year.
This position typically comes with all the benefits, including health care, paid vacation, and personal days. If the company offers bonuses and profit sharing to upper level management, the company secretary will typically have a share in these benefits, as well.
Where to Go for More Information
One of the best places to find out more about becoming a company secretary is the national and international organizations for company secretaries. Check out these organizations here:
Corporate Secretaries International Association
C/O The Hong Kong Institute of Chartered Secretaries
3/F Hong Kong Diamond Exchange Bldg.
P.O. Box 5647
+852 3426 3865
The Society of Corporate Secretaries and Governance Professionals
521 Fifth Ave., 32nd Fl.
New York, NY 10175