what is a personal assistant (PA)?

A personal assistant supports an executive or manager in an administrative capacity. However, unlike other admin assistants, you also complete personal tasks on behalf of the senior-level manager. As a personal assistant, you focus on one individual and help them with their routines. Personal assistants are managers' first point of contact with other employees. They relay information from managers to the team.

As a personal assistant, your role is to handle repetitive tasks for managers so that they can focus on strategic duties. You deal with phone calls and respond to emails on behalf of the manager. You also relay information and prioritise correspondence. You manage diaries and organise meetings and appointments to control access to executives and managers.

As well as working for a company, a personal assistant can work for a private individual to help them organise their schedule. When you work for an individual, you plan their professional and personal routines. Your duties extend to maintaining your employer's home and personal life, like ensuring their taxes are paid, hiring cleaners and home employees and ensuring they attend appointments.

Whether you work for an individual or a company, the role requires irregular work hours, depending on the level of support the manager needs. Working as a personal assistant requires excellent time management and organisational skills.

Would working as a personal assistant suit your time management skills? Then read on to find out what competencies and qualifications you need to thrive in a personal assistant role.

personal assistant jobs

average PA salary

According to National Careers, the compensation package of a personal assistant ranges from £18,000 to £35,000 per year. Entry-level positions pay a lower salary of £18,000 annually, while personal assistants with experience take home over £35,000 yearly. Apart from salaries, some employers provide benefits and allowances to incentivise workers.

what factors affect the salary of a personal assistant?

Personal assistants' salaries depend on various factors, from the industry to credentials and work experience. You will probably earn more when you have experience working in a specific industry. For instance, if you work in financial services, law firms or consultancies companies, your compensation package is higher due to the complexity of the role. Your credentials, skills and experience also influence your earnings. Your confidence in your role grows with experience. If you demonstrate the ability to alleviate administrative pressures and anticipate the needs of executives, you can demand a higher salary.

Your location also influences your earnings. For instance, personal assistants in London have higher salaries due to the higher demand and cost of living. Working in rural areas attracts lower compensation packages.

woman sitting by a window while writing
woman sitting by a window while writing

types of personal assistants

Some of the personal assistants include:

  • administrative assistant: as an administrative assistant, you provide administrative support to managers. However, your role focuses on managing office workers or the administrator's team. You handle phone calls and complete clerical tasks to ensure the executive's office runs smoothly.
  • executive assistants: an executive assistant role is a personal assistant with a more complex role. Unlike a personal assistant, who organises schedules and meetings, an executive assistant has additional responsibilities, like hiring and firing employees. Executive assistants are also involved in developing strategies for running the office and managing other administrative assistants.
  • chief executive assistant: a chief executive assistant is like a personal operations officer for an executive. They know all the players in the business and advise managers on the best strategies to pursue. They also take meetings on behalf of senior-level executives and have more authority.

working as a personal assistant

If you're interested in a dynamic career working with senior management in the top echelons of a company, you should consider becoming a personal or executive assistant. Your decision-making skills will be challenged as you juggle keeping your employer on schedule and working with company staff, clients and suppliers on multiple projects and events.


education and skills

To become a personal assistant, you need the following educational qualifications:

  • university and college courses: consider completing a business-related foundation degree or a higher national diploma. The course imparts knowledge of business operations and administrative tasks. College qualifications are also useful for personal assistants. Some pursue Level 2 or 3 Diploma in business support or administration or T Level in management and administration.
  • work experience: to advance to a personal assistant role, you require work experience in administrative functions or an office environment. Many personal assistants start with entry-level jobs in reception or as admin assistants.

personal assistant skills and competencies

In addition to administrative experience, specific skills, talents, and natural abilities help you become a successful PA.

  • organisation: most PAs are required to multitask. Multiple projects in various stages of completion require organisational ability. Being able to prioritise is an important asset.
  • flexibility: things rarely go as planned. This is true in business as well as in life. As a PA, you should be able to think quickly and make decisions to keep projects on track.
  • tact and discretion: not all managers are easy to work with. It is tempting to vent frustrations to co-workers or on social media. However, it is always best to refrain from discussing the negative aspects of your job, except with the most trusted individuals.
  • oral and written communication: any instructions you provide to junior staff, clients, and suppliers should be clear and concise, whether the instructions are spoken or written.
  • time management: to be a successful personal assistant, your manager must trust that any assignments are completed on time and efficiently. One of the main reasons managers employ PAs is to avoid getting bogged down with administrative duties.


two smiling males looking at mobile phone
two smiling males looking at mobile phone


FAQs about working as a personal assistant

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