Behind every great manager, director or CEO you’ll normally find a hard-working, super-efficient personal assistant planning their life effortlessly. Take a look behind closed doors and see what life as a PA is like...
So, what will I actually be doing?
As a personal assistant you'll be helping out your boss with whatever they need, from managing a diary to typing up reports or planning meetings. Basically, you help organise their life so they'll always know where they need to be and what they're doing.
Your duties as a personal assistant will largely depend on your experience, the length of time you’ve worked in the company and the level of trust you have with your boss. Personal assistants will be expected to carry out tasks such as:
- Typing up minutes
- Organising diaries
- Fielding calls
- Managing junior office staff
- Organising travel arrangements
But as your experience grows and if you take on more training, you'll soon earn more responsibility such as researching projects, writing reports or managing budgets.
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The nitty gritty
This is an office-based role and most PAs will work regular hours (9 - 5.30, Monday to Friday) so you can still maintain a happy work/life balance. Looking for more flexible work? No problem, there may be part-time or even job sharing opportunities available for you.
People who have worked in a personal assistant job for a while often progress to similar roles within bigger organisations or find themselves working with a more senior boss. Fancy stepping away from the PA world? Get enough experience and training you could look at stepping up into management or becoming a company secretary.
Money, money, money
Personal assistants just starting out can expect to bring in anything from £15k to £19k per year. Experienced PAs earn between £25k and £35k, and those based in London can expect even higher wages.
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The good points...
Lots of responsibility, a variety of jobs and being awarded high levels of trust within the company...what's not to like?
With almost every sector needing a PA, there's opportunities to work for a range of businesses, from the music industry to finance to the NHS.
...and the bad
While you'll be given some amazing and responsible jobs, there's still some menial ones to be done. Working as a PA means you can go from writing reports to being asked to make the coffee in the blink of an eye.
Is there study involved?
There are no formal entry criteria to becoming a personal assistant. However, most PAs have a minimum of five GCSEs (A to C) and many will also have a business-related BTEC, HND or degree. Qualifications that are guaranteed to give your career a boost are include an NVQ in business and administration (Levels 3 and 4).
This course includes units on:
- Working in a business environment
- Managing a diary
- Research and report writing
- Business software such as Word and PowerPoint.
You could then progress to take an OCR Higher Diploma in administrative and secretarial procedures.
- Organising business meetings and appointments
- Researching and presenting information
- Contributing to financial planning
- Supervising and developing staff
Need additional qualifications? Find a course at our Learning Zone
OK, I'm interested... But is it really the job for me?
Great organisation and interpersonal skills are an obvious must-have for this role. Can't organise yourself? Then you might struggle when you're put in charge of someone else's life too. PAs should also have:
- Polished communications skills – both verbal and written
- Multi-tasking skills
- The ability to prioritise tasks and delegate when necessary
- Great planning skills
- Accurate reporting skills (get that wrong and you could be in trouble)
Above all, personal assistants need to be well-organised, capable of turning their hand to a variety of tasks and unflappable, no matter how stressed your boss is getting.
Also, it's not a job for someone that isn't interested in their company or even their co-workers names, as you’ll need to have a thorough knowledge of the business to do your job effectively.