How to Become an Executive Assistant

3 minutes   |  CAREER ADVICE, EXECUTIVE EDUCATION

An Executive Assistant is the proverbial right hand of their employer, providing individualised support to high-level Executives.

getsmarter executive assistant getsmarter executive assistant

The daily role of an Executive Assistant might include:
  • Handling all incoming and outgoing communication
  • Managing schedules and travel arrangements
  • Maintaining complex filing systems and databases
  • Preparing and reviewing documents and presentations on an Executive’s behalf
  • Assisting Executives with ever-changing strategic projects
  • Managing project-based tasks to ensure Executives meet their deadlines
  • Assisting with tracking priorities and metrics within the Executive team
  • Preparing agendas and taking minutes for board and Executive meetings

As an Executive Assistant, you’re the primary point of contact for everything connected to your Executive, responsible for managing their schedule and easing their workflow.

What are the key responsibilities of an Executive Assistant?

If you want to become an Executive Assistant, you need to be organised and forward-thinking. Excellent listening and communication skills are useful soft skills to build alongside experience, as well as good interpersonal skills. Computer proficiency is an absolute must, as you will need to work with documents, spreadsheets, and emails on a regular basis.

getsmarter executive assistant georgie wheeler getsmarter executive assistant georgie wheeler

Key responsibilities of an Executive Assistant include:
Communication and Office Management
  • Perform professional communication tasks efficiently
  • Implement information technologies to improve the speed and accuracy of practical office functions

Want these skills?

Public Relations
  • Strategically manage a business or individual’s reputation across key stakeholders
  • Develop and implement crisis management plans

Want these skills?

Business Writing
  • Writing professional and effective emails
  • Producing comprehensive reports and legal documents

Want these skills?

 

Communication and Office Management
  • Perform professional communication tasks efficiently
  • Implement information technologies to improve the speed and accuracy of practical office functions

Want these skills?

Public Relations
  • Strategically manage a business or individual’s reputation across key stakeholders
  • Develop and implement crisis management plans

Want these skills?

Business Writing
  • Writing professional and effective emails
  • Producing comprehensive reports and legal documents

Want these skills?

What is the career path of an Executive Assistant?

As an Executive Assistant, you have a unique perspective of the business or industry from an executive level. You’ll learn the inner workings of an organisation across all areas, and interact with high-level stakeholders on a daily basis. The role has built-in opportunities for networking and skills development – because you learn the company from the inside out, you can choose which area you’d like to be more involved in, and you have the connections to make the move happen.

What is the potential salary for an Executive Assistant?

Earning potential in Executive Support will depend on your professional designation, work experience, and your additional training in supporting skills that add value to your role.

Click on a country to see what you can expect to get paid as an Executive Assistant in either South Africa, the United Kingdom or the United States of America:

  • RSA
    Entry-Level R191,000
    Mid-Career R262,000
    15 Years Experience R304,000
  • UK
    Entry-Level £27,000
    Mid-Career £33,000
    15 Years Experience £35,000
  • USA
    Entry-Level $42,000
    Mid-Career $50,000
    15 Years Experience $56,000

Source: payscale

What are the education and training requirements for an Executive Assistant?

If you’re aiming for a future in Executive Support, you won’t need any university degree – with some basic skills under your belt, you’ll be on your way.

Find an entry-level post

With only a high school diploma, along with working computer skills and a good grasp of the English language, you can accept a job as an Assistant or Secretary. Take an online short course to equip yourself with the unique skills employers are looking for.

Earn job experience

Executive assistants are often required to have a number of years’ experience in a secretarial or junior assistant role. If you put in the years, it’s just a matter of time before you qualify to move into an executive post.

Add value to your portfolio

Build your skills to increase your hiring potential. With additional training in skills like Professional Communication, Business Writing, and Public Relations, you can build your portfolio to make yourself an indispensable resource for any executive.


Which skills do you need next?

Download a course prospectus to find out how one of these online short courses can help you become an Executive Assistant.

UCT Executive Support GetSmarterUCT Professional Communication and Office Management GetSmarterUCT Public Relations GetSmarterUCT project management foundations GetSmarterUCT Brand Management GetSmarter UCT Business Writing GetSmarter