Duties and responsibilities
An executive assistant is an administrative support professional who specifically supports business executives. They may also perform various office management duties. The responsibilities and duties of an executive assistant will vary slightly, depending on the size of the organization they work for and how many executives they support. However, they can typically expect to do the following:
- Take calls on behalf of the executive, respond to emails and receive faxes
- Manage the executives calendar and diary (e.g., manage meetings, travel, appointments)
- Prepare and maintain important corporate documents
- Interface directly with clients and act as the point of contact between executives and internal/external clients
- Monitor office supplies and research advantageous deals or supplies
- Produce reports, presentations or briefs
To become an executive assistant, you will need a high school diploma and experience in the administrative support field. Other qualifications, such as a personal assistant certificate or a certificate from a secretarial school, is likely to be considered an advantage when applying for jobs.
Skills and relevant work experience
As executive assistants have a lot of responsibility, they will need proven experience in the administrative support role, ideally in supporting senior business employees. This experience will give them the interpersonal, organizational and technology skills (e.g., in MS Office) that are required to be an executive assistant. Executive assistants should also have skills such as:
- Organisation skills are essential as executive assistants are responsible for keeping on top of diaries, calendars and paperwork of the executive
- Technology skills are essential as executive assistants will need to use different software programs, such as Microsoft office, fax machines and multi-line telephones
- Communication skills are also essential as executive assistants act as the point of contact between clients and the executive. Therefore, they must have excellent written communication skills to answer emails and excellent verbal skills to communicate clearly over the phone or in person
- Decision making skills are key as executive assistants will need to prioritize tasks and make decisions, meaning that good judgement is absolutely essential
- Interpersonal skills will be required as executive assistants are required to interact with clients, customers and other employees
Executive assistants tend to work normal full time hours (Monday to Friday, 8am to 5pm). However, they may sometimes have to work additional hours when supporting the executive on meeting deadlines or if they have to travel with them to attend meeting or go to other offices.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for secretaries and administrative assistants in the United States was $39,850 in 2019. The lowest 10% earned less than $25,720 and the highest 10% earned more than $65,510. Out of all administrative support professionals, executive assistants earned the highest salary, with a medium annual wage of $60,890.
Executive assistants progress from lower level administrative support roles, such as general office clerks. An executive assistant is a senior administrative support role, but those in this position can sometimes progress to get more responsibility, such as for training new administrative support staff or managing a small team of administrative support staff.