Chartered Secretary

Chartered secretaries coordinate and direct the support services of a business. They need to have extensive knowledge of various aspects of business administration and management. Their major responsibility is to ensure that a company is legally constituted, economically viable and properly organized. This is a pivotal and senior position in a company and is very often the route to a directorship.

Chartered secretarial work is very wide-ranging in its activities. Chartered secretaries are familiar with company law and the various aspects of the labour law, including employment conditions and thus, are responsible for ensuring that the affairs of the company are carried out in accordance with the Companies Act.

Chartered secretaries regularly communicate with people across a wide range of authority levels within and outside the company. They call shareholders to annual general meetings, for which they draft agendas and at which they take minutes. They also arrange directors’ board meetings and take minutes. They negotiate with government officials, shareholders, and customers and are sometimes required to travel.

When new tax laws come out, chartered secretaries assess the impact of the new legislation on their companies. Those who have a technical background in computer systems may also analyse proposals for changes to computer systems. They need to be familiar with manufacturing regulations and may be expected to give advice on matters such as planning, purchasing, staff matters, controlling and reports of various kinds.

Chartered secretaries’ main objective is to ensure their companies operate in the most economically viable, cost-effective and productive way, while staying within the legal boundaries.

They are usually members of the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (ICSA) and must “observe the highest standards of professional conduct and ethical behaviour in all their activities”.

Employment prospects for chartered secretaries are fairly good because of the wide range of business skills that are covered in their training.

Personal Requirements

  • high level of literacy and numeracy
  • well-organised and self-disciplined
  • good people-handling and managerial skills
  • excellent communicator and negotiator at all levels
  • pay meticulous attention to accuracy and detail
  • think objectively
  • initiate solutions to problems
  • able to cope with stress and adapt to changing environments

How to Enter

Schooling & School Subjects

National Senior Certificate meeting degree requirements for a degree course
Each institution has its own entry requirements.


What to Study

The traditional route to the top management has been the 4-year CIS training course. Study is on a full-time, part-time or correspondence basis. Full-time and part-time studies may be undertaken through various educational institutions such as universities of technology and most correspondence colleges.

BCom students (degree obtainable from any of the major universities) who choose the right combination of subjects may, on completion of their degree, apply to write the graduate qualifying examination set by the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators.

The Institute of Business Studies (IBS) provides training in Commercial, Legal and General Accounting. A certificate equivalent to a Grade 10/11 Certificate and a diploma equivalent to a Senior Certificate are offered - this has proved to be a very useful bridge for those who do not have a Senior Certificate. The IBS Diploma, being equivalent to a Senior Certificate, guarantees acceptance into the CIS course of study


  • all large corporations
  • self-employment, a skilled and entrepreneurial chartered secretary can work for companies on a contract basis

Further Information

The Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (ICSA)
Riviera Road Office Park (Block C)
6 – 10 Riviera Road
Killarney, 2193
Johannesburg, South Africa
Tel: (011) 551-4000

Getting Started

  • write to the Institute of Chartered Secretaries for more information
  • make an appointment to speak to a chartered secretary about this type of career

Programmes by Study Institutions

Related Occupations

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