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What Does an Executive Assistant Do?

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become an executive assistant. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about schooling, job duties and required experience to find out if this is the career for you.

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Essential Information

Executive assistants provide high-level administrative support to executives in a company or corporation. Like secretaries or personal assistants, they conduct clerical work. However, executive assistants also perform duties that can have an effect on the success or profitability of a business, such as helping with marketing research, training staff and scheduling important meetings.

Educational requirements range from some completed coursework to a bachelor's degree, and these assistants usually receive more training on the job. Prior work experience in an administrative assisting position is usually required.

Required Education Completion of some college coursework or a bachelor's degree; additional on-the-job training
Other Requirements Previous work experience in administrative assisting
Projected Job Growth (2012-2022)1% decline for all executive secretaries and administrative assistants*
Median Annual Salary (2013) $49,290 for all executive secretaries and administrative assistants*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Duties of an Executive Assistant

Provide Administrative Assistance

In many aspects, the role of executive assistant is similar to that of secretary or administrative assistant. They perform clerical tasks, like accepting and making phone calls, setting business meeting agendas, sending memos, accepting visitors, reviewing incoming reports and setting the executive's daily schedule.

Conduct Research

Executive assistants are sometimes asked to conduct market research and prepare statistical reports that are used by executives to make business decisions. Since the reports can potentially impact the direction of a company, executive assistants must have a keen understanding of business concepts.

Executive assistants are usually required to hold a degree in either general business or the field in which they work; for example, an executive assistant to a financial officer might hold a bachelor's degree in finance. Some executive assistants even possess a Master of Business Administration (MBA).

Act as a Gatekeeper

Company executives are usually well-known public figures with a great deal of influence in their communities. As such, the time and attention of an executive are constantly in demand. The role of 'gatekeeper' usually falls to the executive assistant. He or she controls which phone calls and reports go through to the executive, as well as what meetings are scheduled. To fulfill this responsibility, executive assistants must clearly understand the goals, values and needs of both the company and the executive.

Supervise and Train Clerical Staff

In the hierarchy that is a company executive's clerical team, the executive assistant is at the top. However, executive assistants often work closely with lower-level administrative assistants to complete certain tasks that require collaboration. In many companies, executive assistants supervise the work of other administrative assistants and coordinate tasks. Because they have the most comprehensive understanding of the needs of the executive and the operation of the clerical staff, executive assistants often train incoming administrative assistants.

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics