Executive Personal Assistant: Job Description and Requirements

Executive personal assistants require little formal education. Learn about the training, job duties and voluntary certification options to see if this is the right career for you.

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A high school diploma may be all that's required to begin a career as an executive personal assistant. Some employers may prefer some postsecondary training, and experience with computers, proficiency in typing, and strong writing skills are assets to those employed as executive personal assistants.

Essential Information

Executive personal assistants work closely with top executives of a business or other organization. They usually work in a corporate setting and spend much of their time on a computer. Although a college education isn't required for this position, employers increasingly prefer to hire executive assistants who have completed some postsecondary courses or hold a degree.

Required Education High school diploma at minimum; some college education may be preferred
Other Requirements Work experience
Certification Voluntary professional certification available
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 6% decline for executive secretaries and executive administrative assistants
Median Annual Salary (2015)* $53,370 for executive secretaries and executive administrative assistants

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Description

Executive personal assistants help executives run an organization or company smoothly. They perform mostly administrative duties and clerical duties. They might arrange conference calls and meetings, make travel arrangements, compose correspondence, review memos and reports, conduct research, create presentations and prepare statistical reports. They might have more general office duties as well, such as organizing and maintaining files, answering phones, purchasing supplies and operating office equipment. They also might train and supervise other staff members.

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Many employers require only a high school diploma or its equivalent, though a college education is becoming more common for executive assistants. These assistants must be familiar with word processing, database, desktop publishing, spreadsheet and presentation software. They should also have good typing skills, as well as proficiency in grammar, spelling and writing. Many vocational schools and community colleges offer 1-2 year programs in office administration, which can help those who would like to become executive personal assistants learn these skills.

Executive personal assistants should have good communication and customer service skills. They should also be able to work independently, exercise good judgment and take initiative.

Voluntary Certification

The International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP) offers the Certified Administrative Professional (CAP) designation. This designation can be earned by passing a 4-part examination, which covers topics in management, administration and office technology. Certification can improve an executive personal assistant's professional standing and might lead to an increase in salary.

Career Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that employment of executive secretaries and executive assistants will decline 6% during the 2014-2024 decade. According to BLS data, the median yearly salary for that same occupational group was $53,370 as of May 2015.

Executive personal assistants may be responsible for scheduling meetings, making travel arrangements, typing memos and reports and other documents, developing presentations, answering phones, and training other office staff. They need to be able to multitask. Executive personal assistants need a high school diploma, although a postsecondary award and voluntary certification may increase job prospects for those planning to pursue a career in this field.

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