Go ahead and bury all your secretary stereotypes. Virtual Assistants aren’t just paper pushers with an email address. Modern-day virtual assistants are turbocharged with analysis, research, marketing, and technology skills. Plus, many virtual assistants work at home as their own bosses — taking on clients how and when they choose. If you want to be your own boss, work remotely, and balance life and career, virtual assistant jobs could be right for you.
What Do Virtual Assistants Do?
Virtual assistants combine multiple remote jobs into one. Actual duties depend on each client’s needs, but here’s a list of duties and tasks that virtual assistants regularly perform:
Virtual assistants schedule meetings, send out reminder emails with agendas, and set up virtual meeting links and invitations through third-party services. They also take minutes, answer logistical questions, follow up with attendees, and publish meeting recordings. These same task expectations apply to other events such as trainings, conferences, and onboarding.
Bookkeeping responsibilities include logging payments, tracking invoices, reconciling accounts, and categorizing expenses for tax purposes.
3. Travel Arrangements
Virtual assistants often book flights, hotels, rentals cars, and modify travel arrangements for their clients. Also, they may help organize travel expense reports and receipts.
4. Project Coordination
Instead of hiring a project coordinator, employers may delegate administrative tasks to virtual assistants. Project coordination tasks include facilitating correspondence among team members, attending project update meetings, compiling and emailing weekly project reports, and serving as a liaison between managers, team members, and stakeholders.
5. Email Management
Checking and responding to email is a huge time drain for management. Virtual assistants monitor inboxes, filter through messages, send responses to questions and queries, and modify or check on orders and payments.
6. Ordering and Shipping
Snail mail is still alive and a viable way to connect with customers and clients. Assistants might send brochures, welcome packets, gift cards, or birthday mail to employees and customers. They may also coordinate and order holiday gift baskets, sympathy flower arrangements, and wedding registry gifts.
7. Customer Service
Virtual assistants may receive forwarded calls and emails regarding client accounts, orders, and questions. They may help customers renew memberships, confirm shipments, and remind them of upcoming payments.
8. Social Media and Website Management
Employers may forgo hiring a social media marketer or webmaster and have their virtual assistants build and maintain an online presence. Social media and website management responsibilities include posting company news, product promotions, and seasonal messages to Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and other social accounts, publishing articles on internal and public blogs, modifying knowledge bases with current how-to information, and updating websites with new team member bios, company accolades, and press releases.
Executives don’t have time to read through every industry newspaper and magazine. Assistants often browse headlines and forward relevant articles to keep clients up to speed on current events. They also help clients understand target audiences by researching news, statistics, and trends, then compiling information into a report.
10. Data Entry
Virtual assistants enter information, such as customer contacts, prospective client data, and online research, into databases and other documents. Clients may even text or email pictures of business cards, event brochures, or advertisements for their assistants to extract and enter into the right database or calendar.
11. Launch Support
Virtual assistants provide invaluable administrative support during the launch of a new product or service. Launch support involves planning, marketing, sales, customer care, and ongoing maintenance.
12. Human Resources
Companies with few employees may not have a human resources department. In which case, Virtual Assistants may help process payroll, onboard new team members, track required training, create and collect forms, and help employees troubleshoot issues.
How Often Do Virtual Assistants Work?
Virtual Assistants usually work as independent contractors and have multiple clients with the flexibility to work as many or as few hours as they want. Part-time assistants may work for one client at a time, or they may offer seasonal services during tax filing time or at the end of the fiscal year.
Work hours depend on client needs. One client may request 20 hours of work per week, while another client may only need 20 hours per month. A client in a fast-paced, dynamic industry may delegate daily tasks, but a client in a relatively fixed environment may just need one or two days of help per week. The key in choosing virtual assistant gigs to work with is finding one that can offer you regularity and consistency.
Tip: Before committing to clients, clarify their needs and firmly communicate your availability. Set clear expectations up front to avoid making work arrangements based on assumptions.
How Much Do Virtual Assistants Make?
Compensation for virtual assistants is comparable to all administrative assistants, whose median salary is $44,080 per year ($21.19 per hour), based on data compiled by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). But the more experience you have, the more leverage you have to set your own rates and bring in more income, whether as a side hustle or full time!
What Education and Experience Do Virtual Assistants Need?
Employers usually want to see a high school diploma or associate’s degree and some business experience. However, as you inch toward executive assistant jobs or specialize in a particular industry, you need more expertise. For example, some employers look for candidates with a bachelor’s degree in business administration or human resources along and at least five years of experience as an executive assistant. So, if you’re a newbie, you’ll likely have to pay your dues before landing the top-notch gigs. Some employers, however, might require one or more certifications as evidence of your competency, instead of a four-year degree.
Certifications aren’t usually required for entry-level virtual assistant jobs. However, extra training or certifications can make you stand out from other candidates. Furthermore, certifications can provide you with the additional knowledge you need to become a more effective virtual assistant, and potentially, to earn more money. If you’re an aspiring freelancer, these added credentials are even more important to landing your next client. Because no certifying body is industry-recognized, you may have to do some research to find the courses and certifications you need. Some places to look include:
What Skills and Character Traits Do Virtual Assistants Need?
Before applying to any virtual assisting jobs, make sure your skills are up to par with market expectations. Compare your traits against the following list of basic hard and soft skills needed to perform well in a virtual assistant job.
- Organizational skills
- Time management skills
- Listening skills
- Effective written and verbal communication skills
- Ability to self-assess
- Problem-solving skills
- Prioritization skills
- Strong computer proficiency
- Intermediate to expert knowledge with Office Suite and Google Workspace
- Skilled at using other standard office equipment like a multi-line phone, fax machine, scanner, postage meter, and copier
- Fast, accurate typing
- Appointment coordination and schedule management
- Strong writing skills
- Basic math and accounting abilities
Keep in mind that these aren’t the only skills necessary to land a virtual assistant job. You may also need skills that are relevant to the particular industry you’re working in. Some roles may also require specific skill sets as dictated by your employer, especially if you’re reporting directly to a manager, CEO, or owner of a particular company.
Equipment Needed for Virtual Assistant Jobs
Similar to other types of remote jobs, a dedicated home office is a necessity to become a successful virtual assistant. This will likely require a number of features, including:
- Reliable, high-speed internet
- Laptop or desktop computer
- A headset or headphones
- A cell phone or landline phone
- Copier and scanner
- Possibly a fax machine
Deciding on Your Expertise
Some virtual assistant jobs are basic in terms of job roles and responsibilities. Others may require you to have specific knowledge of a particular industry. This might include understanding industry-specific terms and jargon, how the business operates, or the ability to prioritize specific tasks ahead of others. Some of the most popular industry-specific virtual assistant jobs include:
- Accounting and finance
- Marketing and social media
- Healthcare and medical
- Teaching and tutoring
- Human resources
Virtual Assistant Jobs vs. Executive Assistant Jobs
When you’re searching for virtual assistant jobs, you will undoubtedly come across job listings for executive assistants. In many ways, these jobs are identical. However, several distinctions between the two can help you decide which one is the better option for you. The differences between the two roles often hinge on three specific aspects:
- Employment type (full-time vs. part-time, 1099 vs. W-2, etc.)
- Salary requirements
- Education and industry-specific knowledge
In most cases, an executive assistant is a full-time employee rather than just a freelancer or contractor. Furthermore, executive assistants are more likely to have an associate’s, bachelor’s, or master’s degree, as well as higher salary expectations than a virtual assistant. The higher salary reflects the higher education and more knowledge required to successfully master the role and work independently without constant assistance or direction from an employer.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Being a Virtual Assistant?
Virtual assistance is a fantastic work-from-home career, but it’s not always a shoo-in. If you’ve never done assistant work before or if your availability changes frequently, you may have an uphill mountain to climb initially. Once you get a feel for it and develop a solid relationship with your clients, you’ll likely find the work enjoyable and the work-life balance unmatched. Here are some typical pros and cons of working as a virtual assistant:
- You work alone and are usually tied to your computer during work hours.
- You need a quiet space to answer phones and provide customer care. (Loud roommates and cartoon shows in the background don’t make for a professional environment.)
- You’re responsible for the security of your clients’ data, such as emails, documents, and databases.
- You may run into discrepancies between expectations and outcomes. (Sometimes clients don’t communicate their expectations clearly.)
- You may need to spend money on equipment and put in extra time in the beginning until you find your flow.
- You might experience “scope creep” if you don’t explicitly define your job description and set boundaries.
- As an independent contractor, you’ll need to budget for your own retirement and healthcare benefits.
- You ditch the daily commute.
- You work for yourself and on your own terms.
- You earn tax advantages for running your own business.
- You have flexibility in work attire, hours, and location.
- You can take your work with you wherever you go (e.g., waiting rooms, coffee shops, hotels, and airports), so you’re not bound to one desk or office.
- You can spend more time with family and doing things you love.
- You gain a sense of accomplishment and achievement for taking ownership of your career.
Tips to Improve Your Chances of Getting Virtual Assistant Jobs
Virtual assisting is a heavily saturated work from home field. However, you can boost your chances of getting noticed by implementing these quick and easy suggestions. The goal is to stand out from the dozens or hundreds of other workers that are vying for the same role. Here are a few tips on how you can do that:
1. Do your research.
In addition to researching a virtual job ad to verify its legitimacy, investigate your potential employer. Look for information on significant company achievements, recent projects, and positive, newsworthy stories that you can mention in your cover letter and job interview.
2. Follow directions.
Virtual assisting is a support role that requires you be able to follow through on instructions. Prove that you can follow directions on the job by doing so when submitting your application. When applying to virtual assistant jobs, look for special instructions in the job ad that request that you answer certain questions in your cover letter, or request specific details like “Only respond via email.”
3. Proofread your employment documents.
If you cannot ensure your own paperwork is error-free, how can an employer count on you to adequately maintain company files? Submitting a job application, resume, or cover letter with spelling, grammatical, and typographical errors is the fastest way to get canned as a candidate in this clerical role.
4. Demonstrate your ability to work from home.
If you’ve never had a remote job, the notion of working from home can feel daunting. However, you can take a few steps to shore up your abilities and resume. Learn industry-standard software such as Slack, Microsoft Office, Monday, or Asana. Each of these software programs has training modules that can make you an expert in just a few hours of study.
Ready to Launch Your Career as a Virtual Assistant?
Virtual assistant jobs represent a vibrant and evolving sector in the modern workforce. These roles offer not just a career but a lifestyle, one that balances professional growth with personal freedom. The digital age has created a demand for virtual assistants that is both a challenge and an opportunity for jobseekers. For those equipped with organizational skills, adaptability, and a knack for technology, the virtual assistant path offers a rewarding journey. The future of work is here, and it is bright for those ready to seize the opportunities that virtual assistant jobs provide.
Start Your Virtual Assistant Career Today with Virtual Vocations
Ready to embark on your journey towards remote freedom with a virtual assistant job? Join Virtual Vocations today! Whether you opt for a free membership or dive in with a premium membership, you’re taking a crucial step towards a fulfilling remote career. At Virtual Vocations, we connect you with a world of opportunities, resources, and support tailored to your career goals. Don’t wait any longer to transform your work life. Sign up now and start navigating your path to success in the world of virtual assistant jobs. Your future of work flexibility and freedom is just a click away!
What excites you about virtual assistant jobs? Is there a particular aspect you find attractive? Connect with Virtual Vocations on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and YouTube to share your thoughts and tips. We’d love to hear from you!
Content originally written by Rachael Pasini (2018) and Eric Schad (2021).
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