what is a virtual assistant?

If you enjoy an organized workspace, are intelligent, and enjoy helping others, being a virtual assistant might be the job for you. As a virtual assistant, you work behind the scenes to keep a company running. You handle a lot of day-to-day administrative tasks, so your coworkers can focus on their jobs. A virtual assistant does most of the tasks that a standard office assistant does. You do things like answer the phone, schedule appointments, place orders, and make travel arrangements. Your job may also include some specialized tasks, such as data entry or bookkeeping.

virtual assistants vs. traditional assistants

The detail that makes virtual assistants stand out from traditional administrative assistants is the flexibility of their role. Virtual assistants work remotely, so they can choose to work from home or work while traveling. Some virtual assistants are permanent employees, but it's more common for them to be independent contractors. Depending on your role, you may end up working part-time for multiple employers at the same time.

industries that use virtual assistants

Virtual assistants work in a variety of industries. Just about any company in any industry will benefit from a virtual assistant. If you're creative and artistic, you might enjoy working as a virtual assistant for a film company or fashion designer. Meanwhile, if you're interested in medicine or healthcare, you can work as a virtual assistant for a doctor's office. This job lets you gain firsthand experience in a variety of industries.

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

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average virtual assistant salary

For the most part, virtual assistants make the same salary as traditional assistants. However, the hours you work will affect your salary, so if you work part-time, you make less than a traditional full-time assistant. Assistants have an average salary of $19.75 per hour. If you work a full-time job of 40 hours per week, you make an average annual wage of $41,080. There is some variation depending on the job. Some virtual assistants make as little as $20,000 while others make upwards of $60,000.

factors that impact pay

The biggest factor that will affect your salary is the industry you work in. If you work in a field that requires specialized knowledge, you make more money. The top-paying industries for virtual assistants include:

  • law
  • medicine
  • government
  • information technology
  • scientific research
  • education

Your salary also depends on the role you play in the company. Assistants who do basic duties, like answering phones, make a lower salary. Those who perform more complex tasks, like bookkeeping, receive a higher salary. The location of your job also affects your salary. Though you still work remotely, companies in areas with a higher cost of living tend to pay more.

Wondering what you can earn as a virtual assistant? Find out immediately with the Randstad salary checker! You can quickly and easily see what the average salary of a virtual assistant is.

two smiling females working using laptops
two smiling females working using laptops

types of virtual assistant

Assistants are usually divided into different types, depending on the tasks they perform and the people they assist. Here are some common types of virtual assistants.

  • administrative assistant: You take on a fairly broad role. This general category of assistants can end up handling a variety of tasks, and they often have the ability to make decisions on their own.
  • executive assistant: This is often considered the highest level of a virtual assistant role. You assist the CEO or other types of upper-level executives, which means you're responsible for very important tasks.
  • personal assistant: A personal assistant focuses on helping a single person with daily life instead of focusing on workplace assistance. You can end up performing tasks, such as making online grocery orders for your boss or helping to plan a birthday party.

working as a virtual assistant

Being a virtual assistant is a very interesting job that lets you explore a wide variety of responsibilities. Here are some examples of what you can expect when you start working as a virtual assistant.


virtual assistant skills and education

Being a virtual assistant can be an excellent way to get work experience without having extensive training or education. However, the qualifications you need to have will greatly depend on the job posting you're applying for. If you're a part-time virtual assistant at a small, local business, you don't always need any specific education. Meanwhile, if you're applying to be an executive assistant at a major company, you may need more training. Depending on the job, you might need to have one of these levels of education.

  • no high school degree: Virtual assistant jobs are one of the rare jobs that are sometimes open to people without a high-school diploma. Though rare, you can find jobs you don't need a GED or high-school degree to apply for.
  • high school degree: This is the most common level of education required for virtual assistants. For a typical job, you need a high school diploma or GED.
  • associate's degree: For higher-level assistant jobs, you may need some college. This is especially common in technical fields. For example, a virtual assistant at a medical facility might need an associate's degree in some form of business or communication.

skills and competencies

To do well as a virtual assistant, you need to be confident in managing a wide variety of tasks. Exact skill requirements tend to vary a little based on the job, but most postings will require you to have expertise in these areas.

  • technological skills: Since you will be performing almost all of your tasks on a computer, you need to be very comfortable working with technology. Virtual assistants need to be proficient in both office software, like Excel and Word, and in communication software, like Zoom and Teams. You also need to know how to handle job-related software, such as accounting software or phone answering software.
  • communication skills: As a virtual assistant, you need both written and verbal communication skills. You need to be able to express ideas clearly and accurately, and you also need to be able to interact with others professionally.
  • organizational skills: Organizational skills include details, such as managing calendars, filing documents, and sorting emails. The virtual assistant position requires you to have the capability for sorting vast amounts of data into clearly organized categories.
  • customer service skills: Many virtual assistants are in customer-facing roles. You'll need to be comfortable talking to a lot of people in a welcoming and friendly manner. You'll also benefit from the ability to defuse tense situations and satisfy grumpy customers.
smiling female, bookshelves in the background
smiling female, bookshelves in the background

FAQs about working as a virtual assistant

Here you will find answers to the most frequently asked questions about virtual assistants.

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