How to Become a Personal Assistant
Personal assistants play a vital role in business, providing daily support to management in a variety of ways. This career is perfect for those who are organised, enjoy helping others and are keen to take on important administration tasks to support the daily running of a company.
If you want to find out more about this role, read on to discover how you can become a personal assistant.
What Does a Personal Assistant do?
Personal assistants work for senior staff, managers, company directors, celebrities, and other high-level individuals who need help with daily organisational and administrative tasks.
The ins and outs of the role depend a lot on what is needed, but in general, PAs will help by being the first port of call for all communications between the staff or clients and management, arranging meetings, writing up reports, and managing files.
Personal assistants are responsible for taking care of administrative and secretarial tasks to support office managers, company directors, and executives.
They carry out a range of duties such as answering phone calls and emails, arranging meetings, and filing documents and act as the first point of communication between the manager and their staff, clients, and other individuals.
The specific tasks of a PA will largely depend on the individual or company they work for, whether it is the director of an IT company, the manager of a small firm, or even a celebrity. Some of the main responsibilities of a personal assistant include:
How Much Does a Personal Assistant Earn?
According to the National Career Service, personal assistants earn an average salary of between £18,000 and £30,000 a year, depending on experience.
What Qualifications Are Needed to Become a Personal Assistant?
No formal qualifications are needed to become a PA; however, work experience in IT, administration, reception, or secretarial work will all be beneficial. Administration Courses can help you gain the practical knowledge you will need for a large part of the PA role, and there is a range of affordable courses you can do through distance learning.
If you want to work in a specific field, then you can explore online Business Administration Courses which offer more specific training in the use of digital business programs.
Employers often favour practical experience, IT knowledge, and industry-specific qualifications in this field, as the role depends on many practical abilities. Gaining a personal assistant qualification is one of the most valuable qualifications to have, which will put you ahead of the game when it comes to employability, and you can study.
Personal Assistant Courses online in your own time. You can study these courses either full-time or part-time, meaning that if you are currently employed or have other commitments, then you can study around them flexibly.
Some areas of higher education to explore are business management, event planning, English language/literature, and IT. You can also undertake a diploma or degree, which can help you get personal assistant roles. Most of these courses will require 5 GCSEs at grades A*-C and 3 A-Levels. However, specific entry requirements will depend on the individual courses.
What Skills Are Needed to Become a Personal Assistant?
The work of a personal assistant can vary a lot depending on the employer, and therefore the skills needed will largely depend on the specific role. However, there are some general skills that are good to focus on if you are looking to begin your career as a PA.
Many of these are also transferable skills that you may have developed during previous work, even if you have worked in different roles and industries. These include:
Excellent organisational skills
Initiative and problem-solving skills
Good English Language skills
Good IT skills
Excellent telephone manner
Attention to detail
Does Becoming a Personal Assistant Need Any Work Experience?
Personal assistants spend a lot of time working with computers using digital filing systems, organising meetings, and corresponding with others online, so experience in IT is highly desired for many employers.
If you have previous experience working with commonly used office systems such as Microsoft Excel, Word, and Powerpoint, then make sure to highlight this, or if you do not have previous experience with these systems, then explore training courses online to build up your skills.
Some personal assistant jobs also require you to be familiar with social media platforms, so using the most commonly used sites either in your working or personal life can also help you land a PA job.
Working in a team or with other co-workers is also useful, as communication and interpersonal skills are key to this role.
When writing your cover letter for PA vacancies, make sure you highlight the transferable skills you have from your working experience, whether you have more direct experience in an administrative role or have online worked in what appears to be an unrelated role.
You can draw on your previous experience in many ways to highlight your skills. For example, retail work can help you build verbal communication skills, whereas being a self-employed freelancer in any role develops your time management skills.
Career Prospects For a Personal Assistant
Once you have experience as a personal assistant, you can often advance to the role of an executive assistant. This role will require you to take on more responsibility. However, your earnings may increase.
You can also have more freedom over who you choose to PA for when you have some qualifications and experience under your belt, and you could be assisting senior managers, entrepreneurs, or celebrities.
You can also train junior PAs, become an executive secretary and take on higher-profile tasks, or sidestep into administration and work your way up to senior levels.
PA’s are essential to the smooth running of a company, supporting senior staff in pivotal daily activities from scheduling appointments with clients to writing up key reports.
For those with excellent communication and organisational skills, this could be a dream job, as it allows you to use your abilities in a range of ways every single day. With the potential to earn a higher than average salary and work for some very prestigious individuals, opportunities for career progression are always there.