The Training of a Secretary:
Filing Room And Library
Overlapping With Other Officers
The Private Secretary
The Social Secretary
The Building And Loan Association Secretary
For Any Secretary
Famous Secretaries And Their Careers
Read More Articles About: The Training of a Secretary
( Originally Published 1922 )
When I determined to write a chapter on the financial compensation of the Secretary, the publisher of this book remarked that payments for the same secretarial service were so variable that definite statements could not be made with respect to them. I replied that I could make sufficiently definite general statements and that I believed I could write an interesting chapter on the subject without transgressing the proprieties, perhaps the only interesting chapter in this book.
In childhood I was taught not to tell "names and tales ". I am not obliged to in this case. The data with respect to the less conspicious positions are matters of fairly common knowledge, while the salaries of the better paid members of the secretarial profession are mostly published and may be found upon the printed page by those who will take the trouble to seek them. I do not intend therefore to mention names in connection with particular positions, nor to give an inkling as to the specific organizations to which they refer, except perhaps where the facts are easily accessible to the public.
The salaries of the most highly paid secretaries have not, I believe, been greatly advanced during or since the World War but more modest ones have been increased in a majority of cases, since 1914.
Twelve hundred dollars a year was considered fair compensation for an able woman business secretary before the German nation put the world out of joint ; now the same woman receives $2100 and is no better off. The average salary of the woman social secretary would be approximately 75 per cent. of this figure, though I know of several who are making and doubtless earning $3000 a year.
The leading woman social secretary is the one who occupies that relation to the wife of The President.
The leading private secretary in the United States is the Secretary to The President whose salary is $7500. Private secretaries in business houses, in positions of responsibility, are likely to receive from $5000 to $10,000. One I know of receives $10,000 plus a bonus which sometimes equals his salary. He has an assistant with a salary of $7500, and a stenographer. The salary depends entirely on the value placed upon the secretary's services by the employer, which is a variable quantity.
The salaries of the secretaries of the Young Men's Christian Association vary in amount according to the quality of the work they do, that is to say according to the education, experience, training, responsibility and power of initiation possessed by the individual. There are, roughly speaking five divisions coming within the list below.
$1,200 to $1,500
Since the War, the lower salaries have been increased from 25 per cent. to 40 per cent. to meet changed conditions.
In some Building and Loan Associations the secretary receives a fixed amount for each meeting at which he officiates—say $50; in others he receives a certain amount for each share of stock represented; in others, so much for each member who owns stock. The latter is perhaps the most equitable method of compensation, as the labor of recording is practically the same, no mat-ter how many shares of stock a member owns.
Secretaries of Chambers of Commerce and of similar organizations in large communities receive yearly from $6,000 to $15,000 depending upon the size of the organization, its location and activities, and the ability and personality of the incumbent of the office. The range of compensation in the national scientific and technical societies is perhaps 20 per cent. lower. It must be borne in mind that the position of secretary in certain organizations, generally of a technical nature, does not preclude the performance of lucrative work in the way of writing, speaking and the publishing of books, on the contrary, such work is often expected of the individual and it adds to the prestige of the organization with which he is connected.
The Secretary of State, the seven Depart-mental Secretaries, the Attorney-General and the Postmaster General, comprising the Cabinet at Washington each draws a salary of $12,000. The prevailing opinion is that it is entirely inadequate for the responsibilities which the incumbents assume and the plane upon which they are expected to live. In Great Britain they do these things bet-ter. The salary of each of the Secretaries for Home Affairs, Foreign Affairs, Colonies, War and India is £5000. In public positions there are allowances in many cases, which enhance their emoluments.
The great corporations pay higher salaries than the Government. In most Govern-mental positions the duties are clearly de-fined and do not permit the exercise of initiative in the same degree as in the private corporation. The officers of the latter by intellectual power, initiate, produce and con serve wealth. Yearly compensation of their secretaries varies from $6,000 to $25,000. There are not many $25,000 salaries, and important responsibilities rest upon those who earn them.
Mr. J. T. Wickersham of the New York Shipbuilding Corporation, suggests that secretaries may be divided into say five groups. I quite agree with him and have endeavored to meet his views in the following classification:
1. One who takes down and records the acts of an organization; little beyond routine. Salary $1200-2000.
2. One who absorbs and records the acts of his organization, who administers the ideas of a superior officer and manages affairs on a small scale under direction. Salary $2000-3000.
3. The official who accomplishes these du-ties in a larger way, who shows executive capacity, thinks for himself, makes useful suggestions, directs some individuals as well as affairs and perhaps has a slight financial responsibility. Salary $3000-6000.
4. The person who in addition to the qualities indicated above, has a very apparent influence on the welfare of his organization, who does many of those things which are referred to in Chapters VI and XIV, whose judgment is sound, who directs many others and who has a mastery of every detail of his specific business. Perhaps he has some legal knowledge, at any rate he knows when to seek legal advice; and whose duties involve financial matters of importance, particularly where the activities of the secretary and treasurer are merged in an individual. Salary $8000-15,000.
5. Men of great administrative, executive, business and financial capacity, such as the Secretary of the Treasury, or the secretary of a great banking institution, who direct the activities of hundreds, perhaps thousands of men and women. A single error of judgment of such an official might cost his company many times the amount of his salary. To occupy such a position to the satisfaction of those who employ him, no one can be too highly trained or have too much natural ability. Salary $15,000-25,000. Yet the Secretary of the Treasury, who must be a man of commanding ability, receives but $12,000 a year, say one half the emolument of the secretary of the bank, the railroad or the insurance company.
It must be remembered that the size and scope of an organization, upon which its wealth depends, have much to do with the salaries which may be paid to its officials. In a very small company, the capital involved, the amount of business transacted annually and its profits are so comparatively little that salaries have to be in proportion to them; that of the secretary, for example, although he might have, and generally does have, executive and financial as well as routine duties, would naturally be meager in comparison with the amount paid to the same official in a many million dollar corporation where the duties are onerous and mistakes extremely costly. It is responsibility assumed capably that is paid for, and so it should be.
Compare the highest salary mentioned above with that of a scribe of the time of Nebuchadnezzar, and it will be seen that secretaries are looking up. Micah's private chaplain, a Levite, who was doubtless his secretary, received the princely sum of ten shekels a year, about two-hundred dollars in purchasing power, and as I suppose rates were approximately the same in all countries which boasted scribes, the 'wages of the secretary have improved about 12,500 per cent. since the time of Micah or of Nebuchadnezzar, twenty-five hundred years more or less. What are a few hundred years in a comparison like this? Perhaps the secretary has appreciated that much in public estimation. Let us hope so.