How to Become an Executive Assistant

 In Business

Imagine the CEO of a Fortune 500 company and the work required to keep her activities running smoothly. Perhaps she has a team of administrative assistants, or perhaps she has one very knowledgeable executive assistant who manages that team and how the work is administered.

If you have worked in an office before, and have a high level of professionalism and a willingness to learn, then it may be time for you to make the jump to becoming an executive assistant.

What Does an Executive Assistant Do?

Executive assistants provide administrative support to high-level executives and other administrative staff. They schedule meetings, answer and return phone calls, draft documents, respond to emails, maintain records and files, and in general, keep the day to day office activities running smoothly.1

An executive assistant may also manage lower-level members of the administrative staff and be responsible for screening candidates before they’re hired.1

What Skills Will I Need as an Executive Assistant?

Executive assistants are often the first line of communication between higher-level executives and the rest of the staff or outside business. An executive assistant should be comfortable interacting professionally – everything from the way that they present themselves to the way that they handle bumps in the road.

It may help to “look the part” – be clean and well-groomed and dress professionally. Even more important is the ability to interact professionally, to be comfortable listening and following directions, paying attention to detail, and juggling many tasks at once without getting annoyed or stressed out.

An executive assistant should have excellent verbal and written communication skills.1 They should be polite towards the staff and with any outside persons via phone, email, and face-to-face, just like in customer service.

They may be asked to draft emails and documents, record meetings, and rewrite information. It is important that he or she have good writing and computer skills because errors in grammar and punctuation will give the impression that the company or executive is lazy or doesn’t care.

Check and Double-Check!

Finally, an executive assistant will need to have a bit of flexibility in their schedule in case they are asked to travel for the business. The schedule is dependent on whomever it is they’re working for so they must be able to go with the flow when the situation calls for it.

How Long Will it Take to Become an Executive Assistant?

Some companies will hire an executive assistant with only a high school diploma, but most of the time they require that you have a high school diploma and some higher level executive assistant training with either an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree.1

Executive assistants should be familiar with the different parts of their organization through experience or training.

How Much Money Will I Make as an Executive Assistant?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for an executive assistant in May 2014 was $51,270, or an hourly wage of $24.65.1 If you have the people skills to run a team and be the bosses’ right-hand man (or woman!) then it is certainly in your best interest to move up to an executive assistant position.

Please keep in mind employment and income cannot be guaranteed by any educational institution for students or graduates. Additionally, salary data cited in this article is based on median data provided by the United States Department of Labor, does not reflect starting or entry level salaries, and can vary widely based on geographic location.

1http://www.bls.gov/ooh/office-and-administrative-support/secretaries-and-administrative-assistants.htm

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