Home / Career Guides / Personal Assistant

Personal Assistant Career Guide

Personal assistants take on important administrative tasks for a specific organization or person. They are typically the first point of contact, meaning they take a lot of phone calls or are responding to various emails on behalf of the individual they work for. They are in charge of organizing meetings and appointments for the manager or executive, along with reminding them of their assignments and deadlines. 

Do you enjoy running errands and completing a variety of different tasks? Do you like talking with others to coordinate different events? Are you interested in helping others with their time management? If that’s the case, working as a personal assistant may be a good career for you. 

Sample job description

A promising candidate for our personal assistant position can carry out the basics of administrative work on behalf of the managers and executives of our company. Ideally, you like to keep everyone on their toes as you work within the company’s schedule and remind people of their important events and meetings. You need to have the ability to communicate professionally since you will most likely be the first point of contact for our customers and business partners. It is also important to have the necessary technical skills to manage specific databases and filing systems to keep the company’s information secure and organized. Most importantly, we want someone who is passionate about their job and is willing to work with others to create a positive, yet efficient working environment. 

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Schedules meetings and various events while managing a company calendar
  • Answers phone calls and emails and takes messages for other employees
  • Runs various types of errands when asked
  • Makes sure the manager or executive is on task and managing their time well
  • Plans travel, including booking flights, taking care of other accommodations, and ground transportation
  • Pay close attention in meetings in order to take accurate and useful notes for the future
  • Files, copies, and organizes important documents
  • Prepare and coordinate upcoming events
  • Orders office supplies and keeps track of the mail

Education and experience

  • High school diploma or GED
  • One to two years of experience working in an administrative environment

Required skills and qualifications

  • Exceptional organization and time-management skills
  • Strong communication and interpersonal skills
  • Active listener to understand people’s needs
  • Ability to multitask
  • Good with adaptability and flexibility
  • Willing to take a proactive approach to solving problems
  • Advanced typing and note-taking skills
  • A high level of trust 

Preferred qualifications

  • Experience as a personal assistant or similar role
  • Experience in the certain industry you’re working in i.e. business, healthcare, public relations
  • Previous experience with shadowing administrative personnel
  • Proficient in Microsoft Office, Photoshop, and web editing 
  • An associate or bachelor’s degree in communications or business administration

Typical work environment

Personal assistants work in various different environments since they work in nearly every industry. Most personal assistants work in professional offices or residential homes and spend the majority of their day at a desk accomplishing a variety of tasks. Personal assistants may also leave the office for a little while to run different errands or may be required to travel.

Typical hours

The hours for personal assistants vary based on the employer’s needs. Some personal assistants will work part-time, while others will work full-time. Hours will vary greatly depending on who you’re working for and what their schedule is.

Available certifications

Personal assistants work in many different industries. Here are some of the most popular certifications for personal assistants:

  • Certified Administrative Professional (CAP). The International Association of Administrative Professionals’ Certified Administrative Professional certification is designed for any future administrative professionals that’s looking to go into their job with extra knowledge and skills. The program covers six topics, including organizational communications, business writing and document production, technology and information distribution, office and records management, event and project management, and operational functions. 
  • Personal Assistant Certificate. The Personal Assistant Certificate offered by the International Association of Professions Career College is a useful certificate to earn since it will guide you step-by-step on how to become a proficient personal assistant. The course begins by teaching the students how to prepare for a career as a personal assistant, including how to become a good communicator, an effective problem-solver, and an overall organized person. The course also teaches and prepares the student to perform specific tasks that will be asked of them on the job and how to find job openings. 
  • Microsoft 365 Certified: Fundamentals. This Microsoft 365 Certified: Fundamentals course offered by Microsoft is valuable to most any professional. Personal assistants need to understand the basics of the Microsoft 365 services, including Word, Powerpoint, and Excel to succeed in their position. This course helps students learn the basic services and concepts that Microsoft 365 has to offer.

Career path

The first step to becoming a personal assistant is to earn your high school diploma or pass the GED. Students interested in becoming a personal assistant should consider getting a higher education in an administrative program that will help strengthen your resume when you apply to future jobs. 

To land your first job as a personal assistant, you will need previous experience working in an administrative role. This could be various forms of volunteering or event planning or working as a receptionist as you finish school. After getting your first job as a personal assistant, you will gain and improve on your communication, organizational, and planning skills.

US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook

SOC Code: 43-6011

2020 Employment538,800
Projected Employment in 2030438,200
Projected 2020-2030 Percentage Shift 19% decrease
Projected 2020-2030 Numeric Shift100,600 decrease

Since many employers need a personal assistant to keep on top of things, there are still personal assistants needed throughout various industries. However, as many people begin managing their own calendars, the role of personal assistant and secretaries is diminishing in quite a significant way. Still, there will be over 400,000 positions in 2030, so this isn’t a completely dying field. With an ever increasingly busy world, personal assistants will be able to be lifesaver to many as they accomplish various assignments and errands throughout the day to keep the person or company on top of things.