The executive assistant job description makes such a professional a combination of secretary, project manager and liaison between executive management and others. While executive assistants share certain job duties and characteristics with administrative assistants, the executive assistant’s work is focused toward top-level managers and officers. As such, the executive assistant occupies a position requiring the tender handling of information and a courteous relationship especially with those outside the organization.
Job Overview: What Does an Executive Assistant Do?
The executive assistant supports the work of the executive management team of an organization. Within the executive assistant job description lie functions such as maintaining contact with the public and others in the organization. Other tasks consist of scheduling, typing or having inputs in the preparation documents; and planning and preparing for organizational meetings.
Executive Assistant Job Duties
- Answer, screen and refer telephone calls to executive.
- Calendar appointments, interviews, meetings and appearances.
- Prepare correspondence, memoranda, reports and other documents as directed.
- Review incoming documents and explain significance.
- Plan and layout itineraries.
- Reserve hotel accommodations and transportation tickets.
- Submit requests reimbursements for travel, meal, hotel and other expenses.
- Arrange space, catering, sufficient equipment and communications for group meetings.
- Maintain records such as personnel, project and other files.
- Participate in or assist with job interviews held by management or executive staff.
- Supervise clerical staff and other administrative assistants.
Executive Job Essential Skills
Organizational. Executive assistants must be able to anticipate and schedule upcoming events and potential time conflicts. Organization includes familiarity with filing systems and contact information for various people, including directors and media members.
Multi-Tasking. As part of the executive assistant job description lies the ability to perform many tasks at once or in a short period of time. Executives may have multiple deadlines, tasks or issues to handle within a particular period of time. The executive assistant is tasked with having to assist the executive with or prepare for these situations.
Detail-Oriented. For effective group meetings, the executive assistant must know what items are needed to accommodate the participants. These details generally include reserving conference rooms, having refreshments and food available and making sure the phones and video conferencing equipment works.
Interpersonal. The executive assistant job description involves dealing courteously with reporters, media representatives and management and directors from within and outside the organization.
Ethical. Executive assistants may view, edit or otherwise be privy to confidential or sensitive information. For example, many documents are received and sent in connection with contract or other negotiations with other businesses or unions. Other papers may be covered by legally-recognized privileges or constitute trade secrets. Securities laws may prohibit or severely control insider trading by executive assistants and other corporate employees.
Becoming an Executive Assistant
Given the advanced level of services they offer, executive assistants generally must hold a bachelor’s degree. They also must have accumulated prior experience as an administrative assistant or in similar jobs. The knowledge base for executive assistants is formed from fields of study such as business, law and technology.
Qualifications and Training
Employers generally look for candidates with college courses or a bachelor’s degree. The classroom or majors normally include business administration and public administration. With this course of study, executive assistants learn principles of corporate organizations and the role of management. Assistants may take classes to acquire basic knowledge of federal, state and local laws, rules and regulations. These subjects may govern how certain types of reports are prepared or the documents management may handle.
Education and training also include computer skills, typing and using advanced office equipment. While not a prerequisite in most cases, certification from groups such as the American Management Association and the American Society of Administrative Professionals can enhance chances of being hired. Furthermore, these certification programs afford training in technology, interpersonal skills, communication and managing tasks and projects.
Executive assistants generally must have three to as much as ten years of work as an administrative assistant or similar job. Prior positions as administrative assistants in legal, medical or other offices of professional practices can provide valuable experience. Depending on the employer, the executive administrative assistant may need to demonstrate a history of working within budgets and with various people within and outside the organization.
Job Outlook & Advancement Opportunities
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a reduction of 44,600 jobs, or six percent, from 2014 to 2024. In fact, technology allows executives to perform tasks that executive assistants normally would be assigned. With mobile devices, executives can schedule their own itineraries or make their own reservations. Also, through emails and other technology, documents are transmitted directly to and can be reviewed by the executive. Further, a single executive administrative assistant may serve multiple top-level managers. Companies and nonprofits rely on technology and consolidation to reduce costs.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, colleges, universities and professional schools employed the largest number of executive assistants, at 51,240. Additionally, local governments filled 45,180 positions, good for second among employment sectors.
The average salary for executive assistants, as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, is $55,460 per year, or $26.66 per hour. Ten percent earn more than $79,500 annually, or $38.22 per hour.
In conclusion, the demand for executive assistants should trend downward through 2024. Companies and organizations seek to trim overhead by assigning a single assistant to multiple executives or managers. Technology such as the Internet, smart phones, tablets and computers allow these executives to assume the tasks involved in the executive assistant job description. Candidates for these jobs with prior experience in an office setting, performing administrative assistant duties and working on project teams, may have the best prospects.