what is an executive assistant?

An executive assistant is a clerical professional who assists high-level employees within businesses. In this role, you work closely with the executives you serve and get to know their personal preferences. What sets executive assistants apart from secretaries or administrative assistants is the people you report to. Executive assistants work alongside CEOs, chairpersons and board members.

As an executive assistant, you are also a mediator, revising an executive's speeches, receiving phone calls and preparing publicity material. Your work enables your superiors to focus on the core requirements of their job rather than day-to-day management tasks. 

Although you hold a subordinate role, you are in the position to advise your executive on important issues. Your direct access to internal policies and memos gives you valuable insights. You're in a position to manage team leaders, guide board members and keep your executive updated with new data. This role is also personal, calling for an awareness of the executive's private life.

Would working as an executive assistant suit your strategic planning skills? Then read on to find out what competencies and qualifications you need to thrive in an executive assistant role.

view jobs

average salary of an executive assistant

According to ONS, the median compensation package of an executive assistant is £30,978 per year, which translates to £15.89 per hour. When you are new to the role, your income starts at £26,000 annually. The most experienced executive assistants earn over £44,405 per year.

how to increase your salary as an executive assistant

The compensation package of an executive assistant depends on the level of support they provide and the position the manager holds in the organisation. For instance, if you work for the chief executive officer, your take-home salary is higher than an executive assistant working for a finance manager or departmental head. That is because working for the CEO requires additional skills, and you handle sensitive roles critical to the company. Your experience also dictates your earnings. The more years you work with an executive, the more valuable you become to them. Executive assistants who are critical to the day-to-day operations of a top-level manager attract a very generous compensation package.

Two smiling female working on their laptop.
Two smiling female working on their laptop.

types of executive assistants

An executive assistant supports executives and senior-level managers in achieving business goals. In smaller companies, you support multiple executives, but in large organisations, you work with one senior executive. Apart from regular executive assistants, some companies' top-level leaders require chief executive assistants or a chief of staff. As the chief of staff, you handle lesser responsibilities on behalf of the executives. For instance, you attend meetings on their behalf and take charge of strategic planning operations. You also act as an advisor to the executive and supervise other workers to ensure the functions are running smoothly.


working as an executive assistant

As an executive assistant, you work in a fast-paced environment that requires flexibility and organisation to keep up with demands. Here is an overview of the tasks and typical work schedule of an executive assistant:


education and skills

To become an executive assistant, you require the following qualifications:

  • education: the minimum requirement of becoming an executive assistant is completing your A Levels or GCSEs, but many employers prefer candidates with an undergraduate degree. Useful qualifications include a degree in business administration and project management, which equips you with the skills to excel in the role.
  • training: to become an executive assistant, you receive on-the-job training to learn the company's procedures and policies. You also learn how to use various software applications.
  • work experience: before becoming an executive assistant for senior-level management, you need extensive work experience. Working as an admin assistant or personal assistant position prepares you for the role.

executive assistant skills and competencies

Some of the qualities of an executive assistant include:

  • time management skills: as an executive assistant, time management and organisation skills are valuable. These skills allow you to support your employer by organising their calendars, work schedules and travels. You need time management skills to create and keep deadlines, set milestones and prioritise tasks.
  • communication skills: as an executive assistant, you require strong verbal and written communication skills. The skills are valuable for proofreading documents and writing correspondence. Communication skills are crucial for phone etiquette, as you speak with many clients.
  • adaptability: the work of an executive assistant is dynamic and requires flexibility to adapt to various situations. Sometimes, you work outside standard business hours.
woman talking to colleagues
woman talking to colleagues


FAQs about working as an executive assistant

thank you for subscribing to your personalised job alerts.