Schools for Aspiring Personal Assistants: How to Choose

Dec 05, 2019

Academic programs for personal assistants who want to work in an office or legal setting are available at 2-year and 4-year colleges throughout the U.S. The curriculum commonly offers word processing and computer software courses, as well as additional study in a student's chosen area of interest.

Students have several educational options if they aspire to work as a personal assistant; they may earn a certificate, an associate's degree or a bachelor's degree in administrative assistance or legal assistance. These programs are offered through the business technology and administrative technology departments of community colleges, technical colleges and 4-year colleges.

Schools with Personal Assistant Programs

These schools offer training programs for personal assistants at the undergraduate level.

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Tuition and Fees 2018-2019*
Brigham Young University - Idaho Rexburg, ID 4-year, Private Certificate $4,118
Pennsylvania College of Technology Williamsport, PA 4-year, Public Bachelor's $16,740 in-state, $23,880 out-of-state
Lewis-Clark State College Lewiston, ID 4-year, Public Associate's, Bachelor's $6,618 in-state, $19,236 out-of-state
Bismarck State College Bismark, ND 4-year, Public Certificate, Associate's $3,992 in-state, $5,588 out-of-state
Northwest Technical Institute Springdale, AR 2-year, Public Diploma $2,326
Community College of Denver Denver, CO 2-year, Public Certificate, Associate's $4,750 in-state, $15,830 out-of-state
North Seattle College Seattle, WA 2-year, Public Associate's $4,461
Minneapolis Community and Technical College Minneapolis, MN 2-year, Public Certificate $5,396
Southwestern Illinois College Belleville, IL 2-year, Public Certificate, Associate's $3,660 in-district, $12,240 in-state, $15,870 out-of-state

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics

School Selection Criteria

Students interested in personal assistant programs may want to keep these considerations in mind when selecting their program:

  • Certificate programs usually qualify students to sit for the Certified Professional Secretary (CPS) exam, while associate's degree programs may also qualify them for the Microsoft Office Specialist credential.
  • Students should consider schools that offer their desired specialization, such as business communication, software specialist or secretarial work.
  • Students may consider how soon they want to enter the workforce when choosing a school since programs for personal assistants range from 1 to 4 years in length.
  • Students interested in working in a legal environment may want to look for schools that offer programs specifically focused on legal assisting.

Administrative Assistant Certificate

Certificate programs allow students to gain experience and credentials as personal assistants. These programs are designed for office assistants or secretaries. They focus on providing the essential knowledge needed in the profession and may include courses in word processing, office technology, communication and processing mail.

Associate's Degree for Administrative Assistants

Associate degree programs in administrative assistance and secretarial work are typically 60-70 credit hours and are designed to be completed over a 2-year period. The coursework for these programs may include mail and e-mail processing, phone skills and filing, business law, general psychology and advanced computer software.

Associate Degree for Legal Administrative Assistants

Graduates of a legal administrative assistant degree program possess the legal knowledge and practical secretarial skills needed for personal assistants of lawyers or those working in the legal system. Students are also trained to supervise staff and organize an office.

Bachelor's Degrees for Legal Administrative Assistants

This program is typically designed for students who already have associate's degrees in legal assistant studies and wish to increase their professional and academic standings. In addition to the qualifications for an assistant, graduates may have the credentials to apply to law school.

Prospective students should consider a program's specializations, in regards to their desired future career in the field of personal assisting, such as an emphasis on secretarial work or a program in legal assisting. Other considerations include program length and whether a program will prepare them for certification exams or other credentials.

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