California Occupational Guides

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Detailed Guide for

Medical Secretaries in Santa Clara County

May also be called: Dental Secretaries; Medical Administrative Specialists; Medical Office Receptionists; Medical Office Secretaries; Medical Receptionists

What Would I Do?

Medical Secretaries provide administrative or clerical support to physicians or other health professionals. They schedule appointments and make sure the office runs smoothly. A good understanding of grammar, punctuation, and spelling is important because Medical Secretaries may assist physicians or medical scientists with reports, speeches, articles, and conference proceedings. Medical Secretaries' work involves knowledge and use of medical terminology and hospital or laboratory procedures. The job duties of a Medical Secretary vary depending on the size of the office. In smaller offices, Medical Secretaries may greet patients, schedule appointments, keep records, answer phone calls, and order supplies. In larger establishments, Medical Secretaries could work in the medical records department or as a personal secretary to the department head. Additionally, Medical Secretaries may handle correspondence, bill patients, complete insurance forms, and transcribe dictation. They may keep financial records and handle credits, collections, and other bookkeeping duties. They also record simple medical histories and arrange for patients to be hospitalized.

Tools and Technology
Medical Secretaries may use a variety of computer software, such as medical, accounting, and scheduling programs. They may also operate multi-line telephone systems, credit card machines, scanners, and fax machines.

Important Tasks and Related Skills

Each task below is matched to a sample skill required to carry out the task.

View the skill definitions
TaskSkill Used in this Task
Greet visitors, ascertain purpose of visit, and direct them to appropriate staff.Customer and Personal Service
Interview patients to complete documents, case histories, and forms such as intake and insurance forms.Medicine and Dentistry
Operate office equipment such as voice mail messaging systems, and use word processing, spreadsheet, and other software applications to prepare reports, invoices, financial statements, letters, case histories and medical records.Computers and Electronics
Compile and record medical charts, reports, and correspondence, using typewriter or personal computer.Reading Comprehension
Prepare correspondence and assist physicians or medical scientists with preparation of reports, speeches, articles and conference proceedings.Writing
Schedule and confirm patient diagnostic appointments, surgeries and medical consultations.Time Management
Transcribe recorded messages and practitioners' diagnoses and recommendations into patients' medical records.Oral Comprehension
Maintain medical records, technical library and correspondence files.Information Ordering
Perform various clerical and administrative functions, such as ordering and maintaining an inventory of supplies.Clerical
Source: U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Information Network (O*NET)

Working Conditions

Medical Secretaries work in hospitals, insurance companies, doctors' offices, local or State health departments, clinics, medical research offices, and other medical facilities. They communicate with patients, doctors, or medical insurance companies by phone or in person. Medical Secretaries usually work 40 hours a week. If they work in a physician's office, they may work evenings and weekends. Medical Secretaries may sit for long periods using the computer to schedule appointments, process medical insurance claims, and write correspondence for physicians. To avoid eyestrain, stress, and repetitive motion ailments, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, Medical Secretaries must make sure their monitor is at eye level and their chair and desk are at the appropriate height.

Medical Secretaries working in University of California hospitals may join the America Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Local 3299. Medical Secretaries who work in other hospitals sometimes join the Health Care Workers division of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

Will This Job Fit Me?

The job of Medical Secretary will appeal to those who enjoy activities that are organized, clearly defined, and require accuracy and attention to detail. This type of work frequently involves discretion and good judgment while following set procedures and working independently. The ability to use medical terminology and write correspondence is desired. Individuals considering this occupation should enjoy dealing with people in person and on the phone.

What Wages and Benefits Can I Expect?

Salaries vary a great deal, often reflecting differences in skill, experience, and level of responsibility. Certification in this field may be rewarded by a higher salary.


The median wage in 2021 for Medical Secretaries in California was $45,355 annually, or $21.80 hourly. The median wage for Medical Secretaries in San Benito and Santa Clara Counties was $55,898 annually, or $26.88 hourly. The median is the point at which half of the workers earn more and half earn less.

Change to Hourly Wages
Annual Wages for 2021Low
(25th percentile)
(50th percentile)
(75th percentile)
San Benito and Santa Clara Counties$42,622$55,898$66,092
Source: EDD/LMID Occupational Employment Statistics Survey, 2021 Wages do not reflect self-employment.
View Wages for All Areas


Employers may provide health and life insurance, sick leave, vacation, and retirement plans.

What Do Local Employers Say About Benefits?  Of the 19 employers in San Benito and Santa Clara Counties, almost all provide medical insurance, and most provide vacation and sick leave benefits to Medical Secretaries who work full-time.

Percent of Employers Who Provide
Specific Benefits by Time Base
Benefit TypeFull-TimePart-Time
Medical Insurance84%0%
Sick Leave63%16%
Retirement Plan42%0%
Dental Insurance37%0%
Vision Insurance32%0%
Life Insurance26%0%
Paid Time Off Bank26%0%
Disability Insurance16%0%
No benefits0%32%
Source: EDD/LMID Local Occupational Information Survey.

Of the 16 employers surveyed who responded in San Benito and Santa Clara Counties, who provides medical benefits, most reported that they pay half or more of the cost of medical insurance for full-time, and none reported that they pay half or more of the cost of medical insurance for part-time Medical Secretaries.

Percent of Employers Who Paid Medical
Insurance by Portion Paid by Time Base
Portion Paid by Employer:Full-TimePart-Time
Half or more44%0%
Less than Half25%0%
Source: EDD/LMID Local Occupational Information Survey.

What is the Job Outlook?

As a result of the growth in the health care industry, Medical Secretaries can expect a positive job market. A sizeable number of openings will occur as workers leave the occupation to retire, change careers, or for other reasons. Opportunities should be very good for those with knowledge of medical terminology and computer skills.

Projections of Employment

In California, the number of Medical Secretaries is expected to grow much faster than average growth rate for all occupations. Jobs for Medical Secretaries are expected to increase by 19.0 percent, or 18,900 jobs between 2018 and 2028.

In San Benito and Santa Clara Counties, the number of Medical Secretaries is expected to grow much faster than average growth rate for all occupations. Jobs for Medical Secretaries are expected to increase by 16.3 percent, or 1,080 jobs between 2018 and 2028.

Estimated Employment and Projected Growth
Medical Secretaries
Geographic Area
(Estimated Year-Projected Year)
Total Job
San Benito and Santa Clara Counties
Source: EDD/LMID Projections of Employment by Occupation
View Projected Growth for All Areas

How Do I Qualify?

Education, Training, and Other Requirements

Most employers require Medical Secretaries to have a high school diploma or the equivalent. Some employers will train workers with good office skills to become a Medical Secretary. However, most employers prefer candidates with knowledge of medical office procedure and medical terminology. Community colleges, vocational programs, and business schools offer associate degrees or certificates for Medical Secretaries.


The experience required for Medical Secretaries differs for each employer. However, prior health care employment, knowledge of medical terminology, medical office procedures, or knowledge of health care operations will give job seekers an advantage.

Early Career Planning

High school students interested in this field may obtain valuable office skills and medical terminology experience by working part time or volunteering in a medical facility. California offers Regional Occupational Programs (ROP) for Medical Secretaries. To find an ROP program near you, go to the California Association of Regional Occupational Centers and Programs Web site.

Continuing Education

While continuing education is currently not a requirement, some Medical Secretaries increase their chance of promotion by keeping up to date with the latest developments in medical terminology and software applications. Those who are certified by the International Association of Administrative Professionals must obtain 60 points every five years which includes continuing education among other activities.


There are no certification requirements for a Medical Secretary. However, for purposes of career advancement, and higher salaries, Medical Secretaries may obtain the Certified Professional Secretary and Certified Administrative Professional rating from the International Association of Administrative Professionals. Applicants must meet the required education and experience level, pass an exam, and pay the fee for a five-year certificate. For more information, go to the U.S. Department of Labor's Career InfoNet Web site and scroll down to "Career Tools." Click on "Certification Finder" and follow the instructions to locate certification programs.

Where Can I Find Training?

There are two ways to search for training information:

  • Search by Field of Study to find what programs are available and what schools offer those programs. You may use keywords such as: Executive Assistant, Medical Administrative, and Medical Secretary.
  • Search by Training Provider to find schools by name, type of school, or location.

Contact the schools you are interested in to learn about the classes available, tuition and fees, and any prerequisite course work.

Where Would I Work?

The largest industries employing Medical Secretaries are as follows:

Industry TitlePercent of Total Employment for Occupation in California
Offices of Physicians27.0%
General Medical and Surgical Hospitals20.2%
Offices of Dentists16.8%
Outpatient Care Centers15.5%
Offices of Other Health Practitioners7.8%
Source: EDD/LMID Staffing Patterns

What Employers Say...

The Employment Development Department surveyed 19 employers in San Benito and Santa Clara Counties which employ 81 Medical Secretaries. Here's what they had to say:

About Full-Time/Part-Time: Almost All of these firms employ full-time and many employ part-time Medical Secretaries.

About Work Experience:  Of the 19 employers surveyed in San Benito and Santa Clara Counties, almost all require new hires to have prior work experience as Medical Secretaries. In the table below, percentages may not add to 100% since employers may select more than one time period.

How Much Work Experience
Do Employers Require?
More than 5 years 6%
25 to 60 months 17%
13 to 24 months 33%
1 to 12 months 44%
Source: EDD/LMID Local Occupational Information Survey.

About Recruitment:  Of the 19 employers surveyed in San Benito and Santa Clara Counties, most indicate it is moderately difficult to find applicants with experience who meet their minimum hiring requirements, while many indicate it is moderately difficult to find applicants without previous experience who meet their minimum hiring requirements to fill vacancies for Medical Secretaries.

About Hiring:  Of the 19 employers surveyed in San Benito and Santa Clara Counties, almost all expect the number of Medical Secretaries they employ to remain stable during the coming year.

Hiring Expectations
Expect Employment to Increase 5%
Expect Employment to Remain Stable 84%
Expect Employment to Decline 11%
Source: EDD/LMID Local Occupational Information Survey.

About Vacancies:  Of the 19 employers surveyed in San Benito and Santa Clara Counties, 53 percent hired Medical Secretaries during the past year. Of the hiring firms, 90 percent filled existing vacancies, 30 percent filled newly created positions, and none filled temporary assignments.

Finding a Job

Direct application to employers remains one of the most effective job search methods. Medical Secretaries can also register with their school placement center for job opportunities. Classified ads, journals, and the Internet provide additional sources for job listings. Those interested in working on a temporary basis may also contact temporary agencies.  Online job opening systems include JobCentral at and CalJOBSSM at

To find your nearest One-Stop Career Center, go to Service Locator. View the helpful job search tips for more resources. (requires Adobe Reader).

Yellow Page Headings

You can focus your local job search by checking employers listed online or in your local telephone directory. Below are some suggested headings where you might find employers of Medical Secretaries.

  • Dental Offices
  • Hospitals
  • Medical Facilities
  • Physician Offices

Find Possible Employers

To locate a list of employers in your area, go to "Find Employers" on the Labor Market Information Web site:

  • Select one of the top industries that employ the occupation. This will give you a list of employers in that industry in your area.
  • Click on "View Filter Selections" to limit your list to specific cities or employer size.
  • Click on an employer for the street address, telephone number, size of business, Web site, etc.
  • Contact the employer for possible employment.

Where Could This Job Lead?

Medical Secretaries who work in clinics or hospitals can advance to administrative positions, such as senior Secretary, clerical supervisor, office manager, medical records clerk, administrative assistant, or unit manager.

Related Occupations

Below is a list of occupations related to Medical Secretaries with links to more information.

Billing and Posting ClerksProfile
Correspondence ClerksProfile
Credit Authorizers, Checkers, and ClerksProfile
File ClerksProfile
Insurance Claims and Policy Processing ClerksProfile
Legal SecretariesGuide
Procurement ClerksProfile

Other Sources

  • Association of Executive and Administrative Professionals
  • International Association of Administrative Professionals

These links are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement by EDD.

For the Career Professional

The following codes are provided to assist counselors, job placement workers, or other career professionals.

SOC - Standard Occupational Classification43-6013
O*NET - Occupational Information Network
   Medical Secretaries43-6013.00
   Interest Codes (RIASEC)CSE
CIP - Classification of Instructional Programs
   Medical Administrative/Executive Assistant & Medical Secreta510716
TOP - Taxonomy of Programs (California Community Colleges)
   Medical Office Technology051420