Executive Assistant Education Requirements and Job Duties

Sep 10, 2019

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

Executive assistants provide administrative support to presidents or chief executive officers of an organization. Some positions in this field only require completion of individual courses, while others may require a degree. Here are the job duties, requirements and outlook for executive assistants.

Essential Information

Executive assistants primarily work in an office environment, supporting high-level officials within a company. Completing a formal education program in administrative support can help prospective assistants prepare for their career. Programs lead to the award of 2-year degrees or certificates, or 4-year bachelor's degrees; for entry-level positions, completion of individual coursework in the field may be sufficient. Overall employment growth for executive assistants is not projected to be strong in the coming years, but opportunities will become available with the job turnover of such professionals.

Required Education Varies by position; individual courses, certificates, associate's and bachelor's degree programs in administrative support and related fields are available
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028) 7% decline for secretaries and administrative assistants*
Median Salary (2018) $59,340 for executive secretaries and executive administrative assistants*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Executive Assistant Education Requirements

Candidates obtain executive assistant training through a variety of means. Some high school or vocational courses provide the skills necessary for an entry-level position. Alternately, upper-level positions, such as those with a chief executive officer or a vice president, may require at least an associate's or bachelor's degree, preferably in a field relevant to the executive's business or organization.

Prospective executive assistants may receive educational training through a 2-year associate's degree program in office administration or office management. These programs include coursework in basic business and instruction in office computer applications used for record keeping, accounting, schedule planning and document preparation, as well as project management and research.

Because communication is integral to work as an executive assistant, many programs emphasize business writing, professional human relations and interpersonal communication. Executive assistant certificate programs are also available through continuing education and provide similar technical and administrative skills in a shorter period, without general education requirements. Some programs also include a cooperative work experience.

Executive Assistant Job Duties

An executive assistant provides comprehensive administrative support to a president, chief executive officer or other high-level officials within an organization. Excellent communication skills, experience with computers and familiarity with the executive's business or organization are a universal requirement for executive assistants.

Executive assistants may also be responsible for developing board or committee meeting agendas, managing and updating an executive's schedule, booking travel arrangements, handling logistics and representing an executive in meetings. Additionally, assistants often perform research, fill out invoices and prepare correspondence on behalf of an executive. Executive assistants may also supervise members of a clerical staff and train new employees.

Career and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates a major decline in employment opportunities for executive secretaries and administrative assistants in the decade from 2018-2028. These workers earned $59,340 as a median annual wage in May 2018.

Communication and computer skills are fundamental proficiencies needed to work as an executive assistant. While required training varies depending on the organization, most executive assistants take courses or earn certificates, associate's or bachelor's degrees. This is a decline field, as jobs are expected to decrease by only 20% through 2028.

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