Learn About Being an Executive Assistant

September 18 2020

CATEGORY: Executive Assistant

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What does an executive assistant do?

An executive assistant is an administrative professional who supports an organization’s executive or another high-level administrator. They perform various office management duties, provide clerical support and often handle tasks that have a direct effect on the success of the business, such as training staff.

Duties will depend on the particular office, but an executive assistant might also do the following:

Take calls, respond to emails, and receive faxes
Provide general administrative or clerical support
Interface directly with clients
Prepare important corporate documents
Schedule appointments
Manage travel
Average salary

Most executive assistants work full-time, but some may work on a part-time or temporary basis, depending on the needs of their employer. Their salaries are affected by years of administrative experience and length of time in a particular position. Salaries can also vary depending on the geographic location of the job, the company size and the job title of the executive they are assisting. 

Common salary in the U.S.: $54,658 per year
Some salaries range from $14,000 to $121,000 per year
Executive assistant requirements

Executive assistant positions require specific skills and certifications: 

Education

The minimum requirement for an entry-level executive assistant position is typically a high school diploma, but many executive assistants have an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. Some professionals choose to take general business, administration and computer proficiency courses to develop foundational skills and knowledge. Some employers may accept years of experience over education requirements.

Training

Executive assistants usually receive training on the job in the first few weeks or months of employment. At that time, they may be trained in specific software or computer programs, as well as processes and procedures specific to their employer. They may shadow another assistant or be closely supervised as they get started.

Certifications

It can be helpful for executive assistants to obtain certifications to improve their skills and increase their earning potential. The following certifications are common and can benefit executive assistants in any industry:

Certified Administrative Professional: The International Association of Administrative Professionals sponsors this certification. It certifies you are an expert in all areas of administrative work. To earn it, you must have at least four years of experience as an administrative professional, an associate’s degree and three years of experience. Alternatively, a bachelor’s degree and two years of experience is acceptable. After your application and experience are reviewed, you sit for an exam lasting approximately three hours.

Microsoft Office Specialist: You can obtain this certificate to show you have expertise in one or more of the following Microsoft Office products: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, SharePoint, Outlook and OneNote. Exams take about 90 minutes and test your knowledge and capabilities with these programs.

Skills

Each executive assistant job will require slightly different skills, as executives assign a variety of duties to their assistants. Some may earn new responsibilities as they progress in their careers. However, there are many transferable skills that every executive assistant needs, including:

Interpersonal skills: These professionals often interact with clients, customers, the executives they serve, other office staff, and many other internal and external parties. To maintain a positive work environment, it is imperative executive assistants possess strong interpersonal skills, such as being kind and patient in challenging situations. 

Organization: From file folders to shared online drives, executive assistants must be masters of organization. To keep an office or a company running smoothly, the best executive assistant has efficient filing systems and uses task management tools. They keep schedules and budgets and manage a large amount of information, phone messages, emails or files. 

Writing: An executive assistant is often expected to write emails, memos, documents, reports and other pieces of writing. They must have a strong understanding of grammar and use a professional tone. College writing classes or continuing education courses in business and professional writing can help bolster an executive assistant’s writing skills. 

Flexibility: Executive assistants are responsible for many tasks, and their schedules may change if the executive or administrator they support has urgent needs to address. They often need to multitask and should be comfortable switching tasks, stopping in the middle of an assignment and taking on new responsibilities as they arise.

Computer skills: Basic computer skills are important to have in any executive assistant position, including the creation of documents, spreadsheets and presentations. Expertise in word processing software, research and general troubleshooting are often vital to an executive assistant’s success.

Executive assistant job description example
Customer Service
Bookkeeping
Administrative Assistant
Marketing Assistant
Technical Support
Virtual Assistant


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