An executive assistant is a highly skilled administrative professional who provides a wide range of support services to an executive such as a CEO or COO of a company. The executive has a very demanding schedule and the job of the assistant is to ease the workload by taking on most of the administrative duties, leaving the executive to focus on decision making. This helps to make the executive’s job easier, which is the goal of the executive assistant position. The executive assistant must keep the office of the executive running smoothly.
The primary responsibilities of an executive assistant will include such tasks as preparing reports and presentations, screening calls, and managing budgets and other financial matters. You will be responsible for coordinating projects that may involve working with all levels of internal management and staff. The executive assistant will also be responsible for managing the executive’s calendar and meetings. If travel is a part of the executive’s job the executive assistant will be responsible for making arrangements including airline, hotel, and rental cars. Another responsibility of an executive assistant may be to conduct internet research to keep the executive up to date on things that are important to the company. In addition to these duties, an executive assistant may also be responsible for supervising lower level staff such as receptionists or secretaries.
The skills required to be successful as an executive assistant include being extremely efficient, organized and resourceful. An executive assistant must also be flexible and able to function well in a fast-paced environment. An executive assistant will need to have great interpersonal skills to deal with many personalities. Strong decision making skills, verbal and written communication skills and attention to detail are also all important traits for an executive assistant to possess.
Training and Education Requirements
The training and education requirements to enter the executive assistant field can vary greatly, depending on the company and the industry. Many executive assistants start out as secretaries or administrative assistants and learn on the job to work their way up. You can also qualify for this position with a diploma from a secretarial school along with experience. Another option is to earn an executive assistant certificate. The executive assistant certificate program usually takes less than 12 months to complete and is offered at certain business schools and community colleges. Although there is no particular degree requirement for executive assistants, some executives may prefer assistants with an associate or bachelor’s degree in their field of business.
As an executive assistant there will also be a constant need to learn new computer programs or office technology. An executive assistant will be expected to engage in continuing education to keep ahead of advances in technology. Continuing education that the executive assistant may also participate in includes management techniques, and organizational skills training.
Executive Assistant Salary and Wages
The salary and wages of executive assistants can vary greatly based on education and experience. Other factors that can affect the salary and wages of executive assistants are type of industry, size of company and geographical location. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median wages of administrative assistants and executive secretaries was $40,030 in May 2008. The lowest 10 percent of these professionals earned $27,030 while the highest 10 percent earned $62,070.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Testing and certification for proficiency in office skills are available through many local and national professional associations in the administrative field. As the executive assistant or secretary gains experience they can earn the designation of Certified Administrative Professional (CAP). This designation is given by the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP) and requires two years of experience and the passing of a four part, one and a half day exam. Another designation is the Certified Professional Secretary(CPS). Also given by the IAAP, this certification requires four years of experience with no degree, three years of experience with an associate degree, or two years of experience with a bachelor’s degree. The CPS exam takes one day and is given in three parts.
Certification is not necessary to become an Executive Assistant. However, the executive assistant who earns these voluntary designations will stand out as someone who is dedicated to advancing their career, making them more attractive to employers.
The association of executive and administrative professionals (AEAP) is a professional association dedicated to providing executive assistants and other administrative support professionals a wealth of essential career advantages. With this association you can advance your career by learning about advances and changes in professional practice and technology. You can also network with other administrative professionals on the online forums. Another professional association available to executive assistants is the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP). This organization helps to advance the success of administrative professionals by providing opportunities for development through education, community building and leadership growth.