- PAs and VAs provide general administrative support to managers in organisations or those running their own business
- This can be a great way of gaining experience or a route into an organisation you'd like to work in
- You'll need excellent organisational and time-management skills, and great communication skills
As a personal assistant, you'll be responsible for organising your employer's diary and events, ensuring they are accurately planned.
Virtual assistants (VAs) are a growth area in this field - as a virtual assistant you would work remotely, normally via telephone, email or online, but provide many of the same services as a PA.
- Screen telephone calls and handle enquiries
- Organise your manager's diary and make appointments
- Deal with letters and emails
- Arrange meetings
- Organise and maintain office systems
- Take notes at meetings
- Make travel arrangements
- Look after visitors
Many managers rely heavily on their PA and give them a high level of responsibility, so in some jobs you may have extra tasks like standing in for the manager in their absence, acting as office manager and supervising other administrative staff, dealing with accounts and budgets taking on project work, like research or producing reports and presentations.
To be a PA, you'll need administration skills, thoroughness and attention to detail, the ability to work well with others, flexibility and openness to change, patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations, knowledge of English language, excellent verbal communication skills, and active listening skills.
There are no set requirements to become a personal assistant (PA), but you'll need proven experience of administrative work.
Temporary work (temping) can be a good way of getting administration experience and can lead to a permanent job. If you're already working as an administrator or secretary, you could become a personal assistant through company training and promotion. Employers will usually look for a good standard of general education, including GCSEs in English and maths.
You could do a business-related foundation degree, higher national diploma or degree could help you find a job.
You could also take a college qualification such as in business support or business administration, which would help you get a job as a junior personal assistant.
You could get into this job through an intermediate or advanced level apprenticeship in business administration before working your way up to a personal assistant position.
Alternatively, you could do training courses with a private training provider or through a professional body like the Institute of Administrative Management.
With experience, you could move to a larger company or work for a more senior manager. You could also move into an executive assistant (EA) role with more responsibility.