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Virtual Assistant: Job Description, Income & Salary, & How To Become

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Do you feel like you’re living to work instead of working to live?

You’re not alone.

A recent survey conducted amongst working Americans showed that 90 percent of respondents most valued work-life balance in their careers.

The good news is that most employers are willing to meet this desire as it also benefits them in many ways.

Many businesses are meeting this need by hiring virtual assistants.

Let’s discuss everything there is to know about working as a virtual assistant, including job duties, salary, and how to become one.

What is a Virtual Assistant?

A virtual assistant is a person who supports a business’s daily operations remotely.

With that said, virtual assistant roles require strong communication and computer skills.

Most virtual assistants are independent contractors who market themselves for a unique niche, such as bookkeeping, customer service, or even sales support.

Independent virtual assistants can set their own hours and work from anywhere.  

Despite the nature of their role, most virtual assistants work from a home office equipped with everything they need to fulfill their responsibilities, such as a computer, high-speed internet, telephone, scanner, and more.

What Does a Virtual Assistant Do?

A virtual assistant remotely supports a company’s day-to-day operations.

No business is the same. Therefore, duties can vary by client.

For example, one employer may need you to answer and transfer phone calls, while another client needs help with data entry.

Most virtual assistants act as as-needed administrative or executive assistants.

What Does a Virtual Assistant Usually Focus On?

Virtual assistants usually focus on administrative tasks.

Although they do not work in the office, their job is to make the office run smoother by bringing some order to the typical business process.

This can look like a combination of the following:

  • Providing customer service
  • Sorting emails
  • Assisting with accounts receivable efforts
  • Helping the sales team stay organized
  • Contributing to marketing efforts
  • Keeping important data organized
  • Acting as a personal assistant to an executive
  • Maintaining multiple schedules

Virtual Assistant Job Description

A virtual assistant job description typically includes the following tasks:  

  • Answer and transfer phone calls
  • Send and respond to emails
  • Organize and manage filing systems
  • Schedule meetings for executives
  • Maintain executives’ calendars
  • Make travel arrangements for executives
  • Create presentations for meetings
  • Transcribe meetings
  • Prepare and update spreadsheets as assigned
  • Assist with accounts receivable through billing and reconciliation
  • Maintain and update the client database

Creative or academic virtual assistant job postings may also include tasks like:

  • Conduct research
  • Fact check
  • Source images
  • Schedule social media posts
  • Analyze social media metrics
  • Edit blog posts

A virtual assistant job also requires soft skills, such as written and verbal communication, time management, attention to detail, self-initiative, and problem-solving.

They will likely require computer and typing skills and familiarity with popular business software like Microsoft Office.

Top Virtual Assistant Jobs and Careers

There are various types of virtual assistants.

However, certain jobs are in higher demand than others. Some of the top virtual assistant careers include:

  • Administrative virtual assistant: Administrative assistants complete versatile tasks to support the office, such as answering phone calls and emails, reconciling accounts, or creating a template for a social media post.
  • Legal virtual assistant: A legal assistant may work for a single lawyer or law firm. Tasks include sorting emails, editing legal documents, managing the lawyer’s schedule, transcription, and more.
  • Social media virtual assistant: 80 percent of business owners rely on social media for marketing, establishing this as a highly-lucrative job. Social media assistants manage social media accounts, interact with followers, conduct market research, and track metrics.

Where Can a Virtual Assistant Work?

A virtual assistant typically works from home.

They can choose from countless industries to work for, depending on their experience.

A few options include law firms, marketing agencies, small businesses, start-ups, information technology (IT) firms, and more.

What’s It Like To Be a Virtual Assistant?

Like any job worth having, virtual assistant roles are challenging but also fulfilling.  

Is Being a Virtual Assistant Hard?

Being a virtual assistant is not hard, but because it’s such a versatile role, it comes with unique challenges.

When a company hires an independent contractor, they expect them to quickly and smoothly adapt to their business processes.

One company may ask that you follow a strict scheduling protocol, while another bases the schedule on its relationship with stakeholders.

Small details like this take full-time employees months to learn, but you’re expected to catch up within a few hours.

With that said, there’s more to being a virtual assistant than flawless communication and organization skills. Virtual assistants must also be flexible and resilient.  

The good news is that once you gather enough experience assisting various clients, more potential clients will begin to trust you.

Is a Virtual Assistant’s Job Stressful?

Although a fulfilling job, virtual assisting can also be stressful.

The role takes the pressure off a business by bringing order to operations.

In other words, you willingly take on the company’s unwanted stress.

However, once you master doing so, virtual assisting is less stressful than administrative work in an office.

You get to work from the comfort of your home, meaning you can foster the working environment that best suits your needs.

It also removes the stress of a commute.

You don’t have to sit in exhausting traffic, worry about being late, or be too tired to spend quality time with your family at the end of the day.

Common Virtual Assistant Work Day

Virtual assistants wear many hats.

While the tasks they complete across jobs may be similar, no day looks alike.

Tasks & Duties

Virtual assistants can expect to complete tasks that support the overall business flow.

Depending on the type of industry they assist, that can consist of answering and making phone calls, sorting emails, scheduling customers, planning meetings, making travel arrangements, gathering and entering data, editing documents, or managing social media and websites.

Virtual Assistant Work Hours & Schedule

Virtual assistants typically work during regular business hours.

However, some employers may only need you for three hours while another needs you for nine.

There’s a lot of flexibility in virtual assistant gigs and plenty of room to create a schedule that best fits your life.

Does This Career Field Embrace Work-Life Balance?

Virtual assistant jobs gained popularity with the rise of gig economy work and the newfound value placed on work-life balance.

A virtual assistant career embraces work-life balance, as you can set your hours and work from wherever you want.

The state of remote work, as a whole, promotes quality time with friends and family and self-care.

Do Virtual Assistants Make Good Money?

Virtual assistants make a decent living, similar to administrative and executive assistants, with a median annual wage of $45,760. 

However, experience, industry, and clientele can affect how much virtual assistants make.

Let’s delve a bit deeper into a virtual assistant’s salary.

How Much Do Virtual Assistants Make?

Several job boards gather information from their databases to estimate how much virtual assistants make across the United States.

Indeed lists the national average salary at $74,664, while ZipRecruiter lists the national average at $58,991.

Such drastic differences in pay are attributable to different industries, states, and niches.

For example, a virtual assistant who works solely for the CEO of a large corporation will likely get paid much more than a virtual assistant that works for a start-up.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics also reflects this for full-time in-office positions.

The job board sites list hourly rates more in range of one another. Indeed reports that the national average is $24.78 per hour, and ZipRecruiter lists the national average as $28 per hour.

How Do Virtual Assistants Get Paid?

Virtual assistants are responsible for invoicing clients.

Apps like PayPal make invoicing, tracking payments, and tax season simple.

They also can choose how they get paid.

Some virtual assistants set hourly, monthly, or even yearly rates, while others charge flat rates for specific tasks.

Requirements, Skills, and Education Required for Virtual Assistants

Technically, no formal education or training is required to become a virtual assistant, but the role isn’t for everyone.

It takes patience, self-discipline, and flexibility.

Who Should Consider a Virtual Assistant Career Path?

Anyone with experience in an office environment should consider a virtual assistant career.

People who have served in roles requiring interpersonal, time management, organization, computer, and attention to detail skills will also fare well as virtual assistants.

Anyone with experience working in a specific industry should also consider starting a virtual assistant business.

For example, those with a background in marketing, law, or the medical field can market themselves for a specific niche to get hired faster and paid better.

The virtual assistant career path is also an excellent choice for stay-at-home parents. The hours are flexible, and you can work from anywhere.

Who Should NOT Consider a Virtual Assistant Career Path?

A virtual assistant career may not be for you if you’re energized by other people’s presence, enjoy collaborating with colleagues, or prefer to work with your hands.

Virtual assistants often work independently on routine tasks.

The role can sometimes grow monotonous and requires strong self-discipline to be successful.

Is it Hard to Become a Virtual Assistant?

Securing clientele is the hardest part of becoming a virtual assistant.

To do so, you will need to figure out what makes you unique.

  • What skills do you have that make you stand out?
  • What industry experience do you have that you can make a niche?

Once you figure out what makes you unique, you must practice communicating how your skills and experience can be valuable to a company.

Sometimes this looks like utilizing a job board, and other times it’ll look like cold emailing.

After a few rejections, it’s easy to grow discouraged, but persistence is key to becoming a virtual assistant.

What Do I Need to Become a Virtual Assistant?

While no formal training is necessary for a virtual assistant career, there are skills and basic knowledge you will need.

Additionally, many virtual assistants make themselves more competitive by niching down – this requires experience in a specific field.

Requirements for Becoming a Virtual Assistant

Most employers will require at least a high-school diploma and some background in administrative work or in the field you’re applying for.  

They will likely ask that you are familiar with the software they commonly use, such as Microsoft Office, Salesforce, Quickbooks, WordPress, and more.  

What Skills Does a Virtual Assistant Need?

A virtual assistant needs a handful of skills, including but not limited to:

  • Communication
  • Fast learning
  • Interpersonal
  • Organization
  • Multitasking
  • Time management
  • Self-initiative
  • Flexibility
  • Resourcefulness
  • Reliability

Certain industries will require specialized skills, but nearly every virtual assistant role requires the following hard skills:

  • Typing
  • Computer literacy
  • Administrative
  • Writing

What Education Does a Virtual Assistant Need?

Most virtual assistant jobs only require a high school diploma.

More specialized roles, such as a creative virtual assistant, may require a marketing degree.

Some executive virtual assistant roles prefer candidates with a degree in business administration.

But, more often than not, experience is what gets you hired.

What Experience Does a Virtual Assistant Need?

Virtual assistants typically have experience within an office environment, supporting or managing a team.

Many virtual assistants have an administrative or clerical background.

But, if you don’t have experience in an office environment, this doesn’t automatically disqualify you.

Some employers are willing to hire virtual assistants without experience as long as they demonstrate a self-starter attitude.

However, computer literacy seems to be a non-negotiable skill as you will serve multiple clients with unique databases and software.

 A demonstrated ability to navigate technology with ease will undoubtedly secure your clientele.

How to Become a Virtual Assistant

Now that you know everything there is to know about a virtual assistant career, let’s discuss how to begin one.

Where To Find Virtual Assistant Opportunities

Online job boards are an excellent place to find virtual assistant opportunities. Websites like Gig Worker, Upwork, Fiverr, Indeed, and ZipRecruiter are brimming with businesses seeking virtual assistants.

You can also directly contact the hiring manager of businesses looking for a full-time assistant.

You can sell yourself by telling them how you can help their company virtually and why you’re fit to do so.

Applying for the Gigs

When applying to gigs, you want to make your proposal as much about the employer as possible.

To do so, share how you can help them and why you’re the best person to fill the role, and then back it up with proof.

This may look like sharing how you would approach a task on the job description or sharing your past success as a virtual assistant.

Interviewing for the Gigs

So, your application stood out, and they’ve asked to interview you – how do you prepare?

Before the interview, gather stories that exemplify how your specific skillset and work experience is a good match for the role.

These stories can portray soft or hard skills.

During the interview, use these stories to back up your answers so that the hiring manager knows you’re qualified for the role.

How Do I Prepare for Virtual Assistant Gigs?

Congratulations, you got the job!

Is there anything you can do in the meantime to prepare?

We’re glad you asked.

Before your first day, do a deep dive into the company to learn about how they operate and the standards they hold its employees to.

Also, brush up on the software and applications they use.

Similar Careers to Check Out

If you desire the perks of a virtual assistant job but aren’t intrigued by the duties, consider the following careers.

  • Remote Data Entry Jobs: Data entry clerks transfer information from one source to another, such as a database. Remote data entry jobs also require attention to detail and computer skills and allow you to set your hours while working from anywhere.
  • IT Worker: IT workers assist companies with technology-related tasks by providing technical support, managing information systems, and more. Like virtual assistants, IT workers choose when and where they work, as well as which clients they serve.  
  • Freelance Data Analyst: Data analysts gather, organize, and review data to assist companies in making decisions or solving problems. Freelance data analysts also set their hours/rates, choose their employers, and work from the comfort of their homes.

Frequently Asked Questions

The following are some frequently asked questions regarding this career.

What is the highest paid virtual assistant job?

Creative assistants working for marketing firms, blog owners, and advertising agencies are amongst the highest-paid virtual assistants.

Virtual assistants that specialize in a specific skill set, like editing website copy or graphic design, are rare, making them highly sought after in an increasingly digital world.

Are virtual assistants in demand?

With 9 out of 10 employees expecting remote work to be an option, employers have quickly adjusted to meet these demands.

Because a large majority of the workforce is no longer willing to commute to and from an office, many employers have placed a high demand on virtual assistants.

Wrapping Up

Although a gig, a virtual assistant career is not very suitable as a side job.

It takes hard work to be successful in this career, but once you get your bearings, you’ll find that it is both lucrative and fulfilling.

Today’s workforce calls for it.

A recent shift to remote work has inspired businesses to cut costs where they can by relying on gig workers.

The popularity surrounding virtual assistants is a product of that.

If you enjoy your freedom but aren’t ready to let go of a sustainable salary, check out a virtual assistant career.

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