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Personal Assistant Training Programs and Requirements

Busy executives, politicians, celebrities and other professionals hire personal assistants to manage their personal and professional affairs, such as running errands, screening phone calls, scheduling appointments and making travel arrangements. They may also be asked to prepare presentations and maintain files. There isn't a specific training program required for personal assistants, but individuals interested in this career may find an administrative professional certificate program helpful.

Training Requirements and Recommendations

Since a lot of the responsibilities of a personal assistant involve administrative tasks, prospective personal assistants may find it helpful to earn an administrative professional certification to prepare for the role. The abilities to multi-task, communicate, remain calm under pressure and use computers are common requirements for this job, as are time management skills.

Most employers hiring entry-level personal assistants request a minimum of five years experience in a similar role, excellent organizational skills, good telephone etiquette and the ability to prioritize assignments. Candidates who speak a second language and have experience in event planning and accounting are preferred.

Formal Education

High school graduates with some experience in an executive support role may already have the skills needed to become a personal assistant, but completing a certification program in a related field may increase their chances of employment.

Administrative Professional Certificate of Completion

The role of an administrative assistant is broad and combines technical, secretarial and personal support responsibilities, which mirror the responsibilities of a personal assistant. The administrative professional certificate program covers accounting, computer applications, business etiquette and management, in addition to basic office administration.

The goal of the certificate program is to prepare graduates to pass the administrative professional certification examination offered by the International Association of Administrative Professionals (www.iaap-hq.org). Graduates finish the certificate program with the skills needed to pursue a job as an assistant, including decision-making, business writing, scheduling and problem solving.

Job Experience

Previous experience and completion of a degree or professional certificate program are common prerequisites for personal assistant positions. Aspiring personal assistants may gain experience in junior support positions before moving up the ladder to an executive-level job. An executive-level personal assistant is typically trained to fit the needs of the employer before being assigned independent duties that require the highest levels of trust, such as babysitting and managing finances.

With more experience and a strong relationship with the employer, a personal assistant may be asked to plan events, read and answer mail and manage staff. Networking parties, placement by a personal assistant agency or word-of-mouth are common paths to landing a personal assistant job.

Licenses and Certifications

In order to become a Certified Administrative Professional (CAP), an individual must have some administrative experience. Applicants with no college degree will need to have four years of experience, while those with an associate's or bachelor's degree only need 2-3 years. The examination is divided into four parts, testing office systems, management, office administration and organizational management. Recertification is required every five years by taking 90 points worth of approved courses in education, leadership and experience.

Workshops and Seminars

Career-minded personal assistants can build their knowledge base and performance skills by attending seminars that teach leadership skills, office technology, problem-solving and negotiation skills. Half- and full-day workshops are generally available through employment agencies and business training schools. Sessions may include topics in resume preparation, job opportunities, confidentiality and media relations.

Additional Professional Development

Personal assistants may increase their exposure to potential employers by belonging to a personal assistant or concierge organization or registering with a job placement agency. There are professional forums for personal assistants seeking answers to questions about job duties, qualifications, interviews and training. Assistants who choose to work for a medical or legal executive likely need additional training in the form of a degree or specialized certificate to learn terminology and protocol.

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