How to become a personal assistant

The role of a Personal Assistant is exciting and varied; as a Personal Assistant, you’ll work with senior managerial or directorial staff dealing mostly with secretarial tasks. You’ll often work closely with one senior member of staff in particular, so PAs are required to have a strong understanding of the needs of this individual and have good knowledge of the company and its values.

Average salary

£17,000 – £25,000 (dependent on experience and location)

Required qualifications

There are no formal qualifications required to be a PA, but a degree in Business or Management, or a Higher National Diploma (HND) are advantageous. Personal Assistant roles are still achievable without a degree or HND to those who have proven office experience and strong administration skills.

Key skills

The below transferable skills are essential if you are to to well. Fortunately, you can teach yourself these!

  • Excellent IT skills
  • Strong communication skills
  • Excellent organisation skills
  • Honesty
  • Reliability
  • Attention to detail
  • Flexibility
  • Discretion
  • Ability to work under pressure

Useful work experience

Most Personal Assistant positions ask for at least two years of relevant experience in an administrative role. Generally, PAs must work their way up from a more junior role and even those with a degree or HND will still need to demonstrate previous experience. It’s always a good idea to try and do some work experience whilst studying if you are getting a qualification.

A typical working day…

The role of Personal Assistant requires you to be good at multi-tasking, and very organised. Typical working hours will be 9-5 depending on the organisation, but overtime may be required during peak times. General responsibilities are likely to include:

  • Organising travel and accommodation
  • Meeting and greeting visitors
  • Arranging and keeping appointments
  • General administrative tasks such as answering the phone, responding to emails and maintaining diaries
  • Preparing the manager for meetings
  • Liaising with clients
  • Working closely with management
  • Delegating work on behalf of the manager
  • Keeping an eye on accounts and budgets

Where could you be in five years’ time?

There are a number of ways you can progress your career as a Personal Assistant. As you gain more years of experience and training there is the chance to move up to work with more senior members of staff. PAs can also progress to become Executive Assistants, whereby they are not only responsible for the organising their managers business, but their personal life too.

The salary for an EA is generally higher than then that of a PA, but the hours tend to be longer.

Best part of the job…

One of the many perks of being a Personal Assistant is that it’s a very interactive role. PAs often build strong relationships with managers and clients and are entrusted with a variety of important tasks. The word ‘assistant’ can be deceiving; PAs are extremely important for keeping their manager and the business running smoothly.

What to prepare for…

The role requires a lot of communication whether face-to-face or over the phone, and the needs of the manager must always be met. The hands on nature of the role means you may have to deal with difficult or demanding people, often at a much more senior level than yourself.

Key qualities

It is important that a Personal Assistant is well organised and able to predict and fulfil the needs of the manager. An ability to multi-task is a must as the role is very varied and you will often be chasing up a number of tasks at any one time. You’ll need great interpersonal skills as the role involves a lot of interacting with both managers and clients.

Here are a list of our Personal Assistant jobs. See what it takes!